Many of us have seen architect John Lautner's modern, unusual work — we just didn't realize it. The bachelor pad that Charlie's Angels's villain Eric Knox inhabits is based on the design for the Chemosphere. This eight-sided home was built in the Hollywood Hills in 1960, and sits atop a 30-foot-tall concrete poll, which was Lautner's solution to building on the steeply pitched site.
A recent New York Times article, "Bonding Humanity and Landscape in a Perfect Circle," reviews a current exhibit on Lautner at LA's Hammer Museum. The exhibit attempts to remedy misunderstandings about Lautner's body of work, which some people interpret as space age-y and removed from the landscape. Instead, we discover through the exhibit an architect who possesses, according to the article, "a keen structural knowledge wedded to an environmental sensitivity — a seamless bond of nature, space and humankind."
While the Chemosphere may not be your cup of tea, it's undeniable that the building solution for this piece of property reflects Lautner's understanding of site-specific construction. My favorite Lautner home is probably the Mar Brisas House, which was built in 1973 in Acapulco, Mexico, and whose lines echo the beach and water below (seen in this photo).
To see some gorgeous images of Lautner's homes, and to find out how to visit one yourself,
Lautner, who trained with Frank Lloyd Wright, went on to influence numerous architects, including Frank Gehry. While the New York Times's review of the exhibit says that it errs on the serious side, and notes that "the curators have toned down the fantasy and sensuality that make his houses so intoxicating," I think that this show would be fascinating for architecture or mid-century design buffs. The exhibit is open through Oct. 12 at the Hammer Museum in LA, and you can also take a house tour of one of Lautner's LA-area homes.