John Lautner is unquestionably one of the most original and imaginative architects of the twentieth century and, much to the delight of Angelenos, many of his most iconic and enduring projects are found throughout Los Angeles. Built for Russ Garcia, an arranger for jazz great Stan Kenton, the “Rainbow” house is a one-of-a-kind work of architectural art easily identified by the distinctive lines of its arched clear-span roof and its playfully colored stained glass windows. And yet despite the impressiveness of the structure when viewed from the street, it’s actually a modest-sized home designed with the practicality of everyday living in mind.
There is a distinct lightness and sense of fun to the Garcia House which rests upon two large V-shaped supports giving it the appearance of an aircraft hovering off the face of the hillside. The long span form of the steel roof piece was developed even further in future projects, becoming a signature of the Reiner Residence (“Silvertop”) in Silver Lake and The Elrod House in Palm Springs. From the front of the house on Mulholland Drive, on a clear day, one can see through the glass walls of the house all the way to the Pacific Ocean. However, nobody can be seen inside of the house thanks to the living room floor being about 10 feet below Mulholland Drive.
2011 marked the 100th birthday of John Lautner, who was as an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesen West. His brillaince was evident early on and even Wright himself boldly claimed that Lautner was “the world’s second greatest architect”. Like Wright, Lautner is recognized for creating dramatic architecture that blends naturally into the surrounding landscape and he does so while working with powerful geometric designs. “I love lakes, mountains,” Lautner is quoted as saying, “and none of them are square”.
With designs that are completely unlike anyone else’s (in fact, his designs are unique even among themselves), its no wonder at all that several of his houses have been made prominent appearances in Hollywood films. For instance, the Garcia Residence was featured in Lethal Weapon 2, where Mel Gibson used cables to attach the house to a pick-up truck and pull it down the side of the mountain.