Category Archives: Background

Infinite Space: Purchase Here

Cover of Infinite Space DVD


By agreement with the Googie Company, the Foundation is delighted to offer the DVD of Infinite Space: The Architecture of John Lautner.

Infinite Space, a new documentary feature film, traces the lifelong quest of visionary genius John Lautner to create “architecture that has no beginning and no end.”  It is the story of brilliance and of a complicated life – and the most sensual architecture of the 20th century. (90 minutes)


Architect/editor Frank Escher comments on eight spatial portraits of Lautner masterpieces: Marbrisa, Elrod, Pearlman, Walstrom, Turner, Silvertop, Schaffer and the Chemosphere. (3-6 minutes each)

Director Murray Grigor shares his thoughts on filming INFINITE SPACE with clips from the feature. (12 minutes)

Donation each: $25

Shipping: $4 ($15 outside U.S.)

Purchase from the JLF Shop.

Wolff house featured in 2007 magazine

California Home + Design, Sept 2007, features an article on Lautner’s Wolff house in Hollywood, built in 1961 (guest wing, also by Lautner, added in 1963). The article focuses on Michael LaFetra, who had just purchased the house (it now has a different owner), and the interior designer he has used on several of his homes, Kristin Kilmer.

Please send an email to us and we’ll send the article (pdf) to you.

Become a member

Your membership in the Foundation gives you certain privileges. More than that, though, it gives the Foundation the means to present educational events, to assist students and others in learning about Lautner’s work, to help preserve Lautner’s work and to assist owners in maintaining and remodeling Lautner buildings.

Membership levels

Memberships are now processed through our account with The registration process gives you the option to renew automatically (or not, in which case you will be sent a reminder about a month before your membership expires), and when the Foundation hosts future events, members in the regonline system will automatically be given a discount for the event.

Yearly Cost
Discounts on items for sale, events
Newsletter, discounts
Newsletter, discounts
Newsletter, discounts, gift item
Newsletter, discounts, gift item, one event or tour
Lifetime member
Newsletter, discounts, gift item, one event/year (when offered)
Mailing list only Free Email newsletter
Sign up online (–>) or print out the membership form, fill it in, and send it in with your check. Click Here for Online Registration

Where the JL Foundation is today

The foundation is headed by five directors, who all volunteer their time and expertise. All foundation board members have other work, and are not available full time for foundation work. With occasional assistance from other volunteers and contract help as needed, the board does all of the work of the foundation. There is no paid staff, no dedicated office.

Now that memberships in the foundation are offered (and the member list is growing monthly), the board intends to provide exceptional opportunities to visit Lautner buildings, to meet those involved in their construction, to meet other Lautner enthusiasts. The foundation also intends to assist Lautner building owners with preservation as the money becomes available for this purpose. To that end, we seek grant money and donations.

Frequently-asked Questions

1. What is the John Lautner Foundation?

The foundation is a nonprofit organization, founded by family members and interested associates, for the purpose of preserving plans and other materials and providing information and assistance to the public. See the Foundation for more information.

2. Can I see John Lautner buildings?

Not always. Lautner building home owners have asked that we not provide addresses and names without contacting the owners on a case-by-case basis. We cannot always reach the current owners, and requests are handled as time permits.

If you want to visit some of these buildings, please send us a request – to comments (at) johnlautner (dot) org. The request will be forwarded to members of the board and others who may be able to arrange a tour. Please give as much time as possible for us to arrange visits. Please also check for commercial tours that may be available. Look at the links page for some companies that specialize in these tours.

Because of the increasing demands on time, we now give priority to groups rather than individuals, and ask for donations to the foundation in exchange for the time and access given.

3. Can I get copies of plans or photos?

Yes.  The Foundation archive is at the Getty Research Institute, Special Collections. The archive contains plans for virtually every Lautner building, and photographs of most (although the foundation does not have the rights to many of the photographs). These materials can be copied or loaned under certain circumstances.

Start here:

Search to see if there are plans or photographs of the buildings you are interested in.  If you can get to the Getty you can request permission to see what is available. For more info on borrowing materials from the Getty:

You may also copy photos or plans on these web pages, for personal use only. Any other use must be approved by the Foundation (see the terms of use.). Be sure, even for personal not-for-profit use, that you give credit to photographers and the foundation.

4. Where can I get more information on Lautner buildings?

There are some books that can be of help. The bibliography lists magazines and movies. The links page offers additional resources. If you have a specific detail question, email the Foundation and we will do our best to answer it.

6. What movies are Lautner buildings in?

There is a list on the bibliography – film page. If you know of others or believe there is an error in the list, please write.

Biography of John Lautner

opening photo of Lake Superior by John Lautner
courtesy of John Lautner family private collection


John Lautner was one of last century’s important contemporary American architects. His work was concerned with the relationship of the human being to space and of space to nature. “Shelter,” he said, “is the most basic human need.”

Lautner practiced architecture for more than 55 years, designing unusual and unique residences in and near Los Angeles, including Silvertop, the Chemosphere, the Sheats/Goldstein residence, the Levy residence, and the Elrod residence (Palm Springs, CA), as well as many others around the world. He was also responsible for the innovative design of some restaurants (Henry’s, Googies, Tiny Naylor’s).

The beginnings:

Lautner was born in 1911, the older of two children. He was raised in Marquette, Michigan, graduating from high school and college there. The northern woods and the deep blue of Lake Superior remained in his soul throughout his life, and he was to return time and time again to bask in what he considered a heaven on earth.

His first building experience came when he helped his father and mother build a chalet-style retreat, designed by his mother, that looked out over the lake from a hillside high above it.

Rear entrance to Midgaard in upper Michigan

View from upper balcony over Lake SuperiorLeft: View of Lake Superior from Midgaard balcony

After graduating with a degree in English from the Northern Michigan University (then Northern State Teachers College), Lautner became an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright for six years, joining the first group of Taliesin Fellows. In 1937 he supervised the construction of two of Wright’s projects, and two years later established his own practice in Los Angeles. His first solo project was a house for his own family, which architectural critic Henry-Russell Hitchcock called “the best house by an architect under 30 in the United States.” Later Hitchcock remarked that “Lautner’s work could stand comparison with that of his master.” A comparison, incidentally, that Lautner himself would have been reluctant to make, given his lifelong devotion to Mr. Wright.

View of Middle Island Point, upper Michigan
View of Middle Island Point from Midgaard

Lautner’s work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions in the United States and abroad. His buildings have been featured in countless publications, in a documentary film on his life and work, in the James Bond and Diehard films, among others, and in commercials for television. In 1970, he was made a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects for Excellence in Design. He also received the Gold Medal from the Los Angeles AIA chapter in 1993 for his lifetime achievement.

At the time of his death on October 24, 1994, the 83-year-old Lautner was still working on several large projects.