Great Spaces' blog intern is in LA, so today we're covering what is possibly its most interesting house, the Chemosphere, by John Lautner. More
The Chemosphere was designed in 1960 by renowned California-Googie architect (and major favorite over here at Great Spaces,) John Lautner. Lautner also designed the Sheats-Goldstein Residence which was featured as the house of Jackie Treehorn in the Big Lebowski. The Chemosphere was designed for an aerospace engineer named Leonard Malin who had inherited the site from his father-in-law. Malin had been previously told by various engineers and land surveyors that due to the 45-degree slope of the land, it would be impossible to build on. Malin refused to take no for an answer, and eventually got in touch with a former student of Frank Lloyd Wright, John Lautner. Lautner's adept handling of the site problem led to the Chemosphere's incredible form. It is a one-story 2200 sf octagon sitting upon a long post mounted upon a concrete pedestal 20' in diameter. It has survived every earthquake and mudslide since its inception, including the terrifying 1994 Northridge earthquake.
However, after its owner was stabbed to death inside the home, it began to fall into disrepair until it was purchased in 2000 by Benedikt Taschen (owner of the Taschen book empire,) who swiftly saw the importance of the house and completely renovated it back to its former glory, even replacing the floor with the slate tile Lautner had specified in his original design, but that had been omitted during construction due to cost.
Today, the Chemosphere is one of Los Angeles' most striking houses. It was included in a list of LA's top 10 houses by the LA Times and was added to LA's List of Historic-Cultural Monuments, but has not yet received landmark status. It has also not yet been included in the National Registry of Historic Places as it is only recently eligible. Buildings must be at least 50 years old to qualify for the National Registry of Historic Places. In the meantime, you can swing by Torreyson Drive in Los Angeles, catch it in Body Double, or watch the Simpsons (character Troy McClure lives there,) to catch a glimpse of the infamous Chemosphere.
Photos from the fabulous LA architecture blog, Take Sunset, and Oliver Garrett Construction