Good news for architecture buffs and Southern California’s rich tradition of singular residential designs.
In a first for the LA County Museum of Art, it announced the acquisition of the iconic Sheats-Goldstein House designed by John Lautner, a very much original and, I think, an under-appreciated architect.
The striking house high in the hills of the isolated Beverly Crest community is distinguished by a triangular concrete exterior that appear to be pried apart by walls of glass, approached by a stone walkway past a pool.
The spectacular setting of the house with sweeping views of Los Angeles is further distinguished by lush landscaping that contain a prominent structure crafted by the sculptor James Turrell. It also is being donated by the current owner, James Goldstein, along with several singular art works.
The house is probably best known as the setting for various movies, including the Coen brother’s classic The Big Lebowski. It was built in 1963 for UCLA professor Paul and artist Helen Sheats, and sold to the eccentric Goldstein in 1972, which in the succeeding years retained Lautner to update it, until 1994 when the architect died.
A student of Frank Lloyd Wright, Launder’s loved to talk about his buildings, each a unique marriage between architecture and engineering. And I loved to listen as the architecture critic of the LA Times 30 years ago as he held court dressed always in a fashionable white suit in his studio atop the Roosevelt Hotel.
He had time, for his practice sadly was limited, which he explained to me,“ I’m afraid I am just not into the superficial facades with all its phony rationales that seem to preoccupy architecture these days. ”
And then I recall quite vividly he turned to me as a critic to snap, ’You people have let them get away with it; you and those sheep-like clients who want to be trendy, even if it doesn’t wear well or work.”
You had to love the guy, and I proudly wrote in support of his nomination for the coveted AIA’s Gold Medal 30 years. He didn’t get it. He was just not popular then.
But now one of his iconic designs will be a museum piece, which actually I believe is much more impressive than a title being tacked onto his name.
This report was aired on my arts and entertainment commentary on 97.5 KBU and radiomalibu, net everywhere.