Category Archives: About John Lautner

Information on John Lautner

Associates of John Lautner

The following architects worked in John Lautner’s offices for the number of years indicated. Many others worked for Mr. Lautner over the years, but it is difficult to verify the time spent in every case. The Board of Directors has confirmed these names and years, and from time to time may amend the list when more information is available.

Architect Address Notes
Helena Arahuete (23 years) Lautner Associates
8055 W. Manchester Ave. suite 705
Playa del Rey CA 90293
Tel 1 310 577-7783/Fax 1 310 577-7793
 Worked on Arango, Franklyn, Rumney, Fiorentino, Crippled Children’s Center, Familian, Curtiss, Cavalier Motel, Goldsmith, Hope, Elrod-Maloney, Walter remodel, Boli, Miles Davis swim lake and studio, Townsend, Marina Fine Arts,, addition to Bell-Worchell, Zahn remodel, Jordan remodel, Arango ranch house, J. Kirk Wood, Remodel Goldstein, Whiting, Lueck, JOrdan, Hurd, Beyer, Wolff cabin
Vaughan Trammell (12 years) Vaughan Trammell, Architect
1912 Benecia Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90025
Tel 1 310-277-1656/Fax 1 310-277-1699
Guy Zebert (12 years) Guy Zebert
Box 9483
Marina del Rey, CA 90292
Tel 1 310-823-8158
Julia Strickland (8 years) Julia Strickland and Jack Burnett-Stuart, Architect
1648 N. Coronado Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90026
Tel 1 213-483-4948/Fax 1 213-413-8481
Andrew Nolan (7 years:
Jan 82 – Feb 89)
P.O. Box 557
Avalon Beach
NSW 2107
Tel 02-9973-4355/Fax 02-9973-4366
Duncan Nicholson (5 years)


Nicholson Architects
3200 Airport Avenue, Suite 12
Santa Monica, CA 90405
Tel 1 310 313-1928/Fax 1 310 313-1906website:
 Died January 2015
Warren Lawson (4 years) Warren Lawson
25612 Isle of View Place
Calabasas, CA 91302
Tel 1 818-591-0646
email: warrenlawson@mac.comwebsite:
 Worked on Segel, Rawlins, Schwimmer.
Lynn Call (4 years) Lynn Call, Architect
7717 Hollywood Blvd., Suite #2
Los Angeles, CA 90046
Tel 1 323 876 0430
fax 1 323 876 7163
Andrea Simoncelli (4 years: Nov 71-Oct 75) ANDREA SIMONCELLI  Died August 16, 2010
Kay Marshall Henryson (4 years) Kay M. Henryson, AIA
7607 Eastmark Drive, Suite 245
College Station, Texas 77840
David Hertz (3-1/2 years) David Randall Hertz FAIA
S.E.A. 1920 Olympic Blvd.
Santa Monica , California 90404
John Caldwell (2 years: 1972 – 74) 3107 Washington Bl.
Marina del Rey, CA 90292email:
 Worked on Nature Center, Hurd residence
Louis Wiehle (1 yr, 7 mos) 2225a Hyperion Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90027
1-323-668-2225 Fax: 1-323-668-2228
Roger Bennett, Architect (1 year +/-) 453 S. Spring Street
Suite 639
Los Angeles, CA 90013

In his own words

In his own words…

For a slide show:

Notes written presumably for a class in the late 60s-early 70s. Found in a cupboard in Three Rivers, Lautner’s vacation home in California, in 2004. The notes are handwritten by Lautner, on 9-1/2 pages of 8-1/2 X 14 paper, transcribed by Judy Lautner in November 2004. Some words were illegible; these are indicated with question marks.

I don’t believe the essence of Architecture has much to do with the techniques or styles or rationales of the moment. (Architecture occurs all thru the ages and still is Architecture.) I think we must more than ever seek and continually search for the real ideals and bases of Architecture – as Human Guides to wade through the morass of pressures to regiment – to expedite etc. The world’s richest nation should be able to produce a free – beautiful – Architecture for individuals – for people – to daily increase the Joy in life. Too much of what goes on today are “facilities” as announced in our papers and magazines. They are seldom Architecture but presumably practical, economic executions of so many square feet of floor with lots of machinery and very little for the whole human being – places where one can work until one can get out – when they should be places where one would like to stay and work better and more. Architecture being involved with everything is like life itself when it is real Architecture – alive, fresh, exhilarating – yet solid and enduring. In getting at basics right now, it is difficult to think clearly with the barrage of advertising and the promotions masquerading as progress. We must consider what is real progress – I think of my decision as a student to choose Architecture – I tried to approach from fundamentals – Food – Clothing – Shelter – I thought therefore Architecture one of three basic needs of man. Later in practice I found Food and clothing to be the most important, Architecture is rarely known so I guess still a luxury. I think unfortunately sometimes called that even by so called Architects. You either make money or do Architecture. Well, trying to see what progress is or isn’t – for instance I find an analogy in food today – The other day I visited a house where there were fresh ripe cantaloupe on the table – I could smell them – delightful – then I ate one – ripe – with real flavor – a real pleasure of life of course this is seasonal & now with the progress of merchandising we have refrigerated green melons – all year but not worth eating – this is called progress – So in building we have a lot of refrigerated green melons – One could reevaluate our whole civilization and should to get iat why to live – how to live – how to build to live. This is a lifetime treatise that can’t be done in one speech – but I am trying to give a clue to thinking to apply to all our technological development etc. and keep them in their best position for what I have been talking about is the thinking and bases to see and do what man really needs. No one manufactures or sells in this area (it is too intangible). This is for the Architect. Actually many of the new problems may not be new except in physical numbers as man as a human being hasn’t changed much. As handy as it would be to make man a statistic it is not valid. It might be done with dope and I guess it is even considered – but then its it worth living? I find we have achieved windowless air conditions environments. We have never considered all the possibilities of just natural light and ventilation – We seldom see a ventilated building so we must have air conditions – The banks require it – we forget what the people require – The basics. As far as structure is concerned I think we should continually experiment and discover every new material and method and use it. I have been working with tension structures and polyurethane foam – I believe one can design lightweight yet permanent buildings, free and fast to build. The techniques however are not pushed fast enough or far enough to have the freedom one should have right now. Finance is a real lag here where twenty or fifty year old techniques are required for safety of the investor. This is one of the toughest problems in real progress of building. Also almost out of the realm of any school – maybe it should be studied more as it could allow new ideas to actually be executed. I have worked with new ideas and had my neck out a mile ever since I started practice – fortunately I found a few individuals who believed and managed the cash as a subordinate factor. Otherwise I would have been able to do nothing. This may sound too idealistic for now but we need it more and more to make Architecture rather than facilities. The space age is progressing because it is right from scratch with no precedents. The idea Go to the moon – tech. & sim(?) – We should do this with Architecture.

Theoretically our technology can give us a society in which the material needs of man can almost automatically be generated – leaving man free to rise to new intellectual, cultural, and spiritual heights, which we skip | For immediate facts(?). Also technology can annihilate our whole society. Also with nuclear energy we may eventually control weather – and maybe need no buildings? Technology will give us more command (communication?) more knowledge of information but if we do not concentrate on the social and human values the world will be better for the machines than for human beings. I think we need more philosophers to help guide the use of sciences which are so far advanced by themselves. The Architect as an artist for human environment must see what produces and constitutes the essential greatness of our civilization – or man will be a statistic.

After being a little padrous (?) & grim – Architecture is tough here are a few more clues to what it is – Eliz.

As far as New Theories and processes in Architecture is concerned – There is no escaping conceiving a whole idea First – from all the knowledge and information you can correlate simultaneously. To create Architecture and Planning. As a practitioner I try to use and think of new and better ways all the time – This is a lifetime process. Unfortunately there are so many forces against new ideas you must fight all the way – a building code can stop an idea for twenty years alone etc. I think the best way is by doing and in school you should build actual mock-ups or building to really learn and understand. I didn’t used to believe in talking at all there is so little real communication so I have been doing what I could by building. So now with some slides I will try to show some of the new things actually executed over a period of 27 years – Frank Lloyd Wright said you can’t begin to be an Architect until you are forty years old – you don’t know enough – I feel as though I am still beginning, I think if you do not you are dead. There is no end – so you can stay alive all your life in Architecture – well here are some pictures –

Note in JL’s handwriting, found in Three Rivers:


  1. Arizona sky – air – landscape
  2. Michigan – seasons & Lake Superior – best
  3. French films
  4. New architecture & building – space
  5. Infinity
  6. Beauty

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.