06 July 2012

Four Favorite Southern California Homes - Dean Larkin

I’ve known Dean Larkin for more than 20 years. He’s one of my best friends. He’s also one of the best architects working today in Southern California. (And it’s not just me saying so; his work has been published in countless national magazines, a gorgeous coffee table book and numerous award citations!) 

Dean is also my go-to guy for architectural innovations and trends and the Architectural Contributor to Gold Notes. It was only natural for me to hit him up for a Fourth Anniversary guest post. It had to be Southern California-oriented because I think of him as the quintessential SoCal architect. He chose his four favorite famous houses. Enjoy! 


The recent debates surrounding the fate of many of the East Coast Architect Paul Rudolph projects has me pondering the fate of some of my favorite Southern California architect's creations. I often jest that I bought my house before they coined the phrase "Mid-century modern” -- back then they just called them "ugly." It’s safe to say, one person's ugly is another person's beauty. However, without getting into a debate on preservation vs. property rights, or in Star Trek terms, "do the needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few-or the one," I ponder these lost or nearly-lost homes by some of the greatest architects of our time. 

Moore House by Lloyd Wright

We just recently lost Lloyd Wright's Moore house. This light-filled home designed by Frank’s son seems to float above its site with its soaring eaves and extended floor plate. This is a trick Wright used to give all the major rooms of the house access to ocean views. This trick also leads to the "spaceship" comparisons often used by the home’s detractors. Sadly, this spaceship has departed to make way for a new home nearly twice its size. 

Credit: Stefano Paltera / For Los Angeles Times

Shusett House by John Lautner

A similar fate was met by the Shusett house by John Lautner, a personal favorite of mine. Here, Lautner’s typical connection of house to nature is demonstrated by the home spiraling around an existing pine tree. It seems ironic that the new owners demolished the house and decided to leave the pine tree. 

Credit: John Lautner Foundation 

Kronish House by Richard Neutra

Happily, Richard Neutra's Kronish house was saved from destruction by a last minute plea to Beverly Hills City Council. At nearly 7,000 square feet, it was one of the largest Neutra homes and featured many of his iconic indoor-outdoor walls of glass. The owners at the time gave up their fight to demolish the house and sold it last October to a preservationist vowing to restore it to its former glory-whew! 

Credit: Associated Press / J. Paul Getty Trust 

Hynes House by Harry Gesner

Finally, a personal success story. We are currently involved with the restoration and expansion of Harry Gesner's Hynes House. I have long been a fan of this under-appreciated Southern California genius. To have the chance to work on and save one of his homes from the wrecking ball is a dream come true. The house features 270 degree views sweeping from the San Fernando Valley to the Pacific Ocean and an iconic soaring wing-like roof. When finished, this home will be well-enabled to sail far into the Twenty-first Century for all of us to enjoy.

Image provided by Dean Larkin Design

Dean Larkin Design  rendering of firm's Hynes House restoration design


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