Tag Archives: Elrod

Celebrate John Lautner in Palm Springs this February!

Palm Springs Modernism Week is celebrating John Lautner this year, by dedicating a sidewalk star to him and offering several other Lautner-related events. Most of the events take place on Friday, February 17, 2017, the day after Modernism Week officially begins. Here is your itinerary, should you choose to attend:

Elrod Residence, Palm Springs

Begin with The Visionary John Lautner, a lecture by Alan Hess at the Annenberg Theatre inside the Palm Springs Art Museum.  The lecture is from 10 – 11 am; tickets are $12 each.

Appropriately following at 11:30 in the same place is Arthur Elrod = Diamonds are Forever, a lecture by Adele Cygelman. Cygelman will demonstrate that Elrod in his own right was a designer of lasting value. The event ends at 12:30; tickets are $12 each.

Next on what has informally become known as “Lautner Day” is the dedication of the star.  The star will be inset in Palm Canyon Drive outside the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center. There will be brief presentations by special guests and light refreshments afterwards. The event is free and there are no reservations.

Hotel Lautner

The star was one of the goals of Karol Lautner Peterson, who headed The John Lautner Foundation from its inception in 1995 to her death in August 2015. We of the Foundation Board are especially pleased that the architecture and preservation groups in Palm Springs worked so hard to make it happen.

Bette Jane Cohen, Roban Poirier, and Judith Lautner at the memorial celebration for Karol Lautner Peterson in 2015.

The final event of Lautner Day is the screening of Bette Cohen’s wonderful documentary, The Spirit in Architecture: John Lautner, at the Annenberg Theatre at 4:30 – 6:00 pm. Tickets are $10 each.  The film is the 25th anniversary edition, newly updated and remastered from the original 1991 film by Bette Cohen. The screening is dedicated to Bette, who died in October 2016. Bette’s co-producer, Evelyn Wendel, will introduce the film. (See an account of the making of the original film, written by Cohen.)

While this list of events completes Lautner Day, there is still more.

On Sunday, February 19, Hotel Lautner will offer tours of the remodelled Desert Hot Springs Motel at 10 am, 11:15 am, and 12:30 pm. Visitors will be able to tour two of the units. Tickets are $50 each, a portion of which will be donated to the John Lautner Foundation. Members of the Foundation Board of Directors and volunteers will be at a table at the event, offering DVDs of Infinite Space and Tributes for sale and answering questions about Lautner’s work.

That night is a party with a purpose: Hotel Lautner – A Night for Preservation. Hotel owners Tracy Beckmann and Ryan Trowbridge will host another tour of the hotel and will introduce founders Ron Woodson and Jaime Rummerfield of Save Iconic Architecture (SIA). Proceeds will benefit SIA. Tickets are $125 each, 21-and-over only.

And finally, on Wednesday, February 22, Tracy Beckmann, co-owner of Hotel Lautner, will present what she has learned from renovating the Desert Hot Springs Motel (original name). Beckmann will speak at the Palm Springs Woman’s Club  from 3-4 pm. The event is free but reservations are recommended.

Other lectures and tours include mention of Lautner, including, among others, some of the bus tours, California Modernism, and Claremont Modern.

Modernism Week has become a popular more-than-a-week event and some activities sell out early. Get your tickets now!

Nominations Approved by State Board

The “Multiple Property Submission” of eight Lautner homes to the State Historic Resources Commission was approved in Sacramento this morning, January 29, 2016.  The eight properties are the John & Mary Lautner House, the Foster Carling House, the Schaffer House, the Harvey House, the Harpel (Hollywood) House, the Pearlman Mountain Cabin, the Elrod House, and the Walstrom House.

The commission noted that seven letters had been received in support of the nominations.

The primary authors of the application, Lauren Bricker and Luis Hoyos, both teachers of architecture at Cal Poly Pomona, were present, as was Christine Lazzaretto of Historic Resources Group, who prepared the final revisions, and Judith Lautner representing the John Lautner Foundation. Students in the Cal Poly classes did the initial research and preparation of the application. Commissioners complimented the Cal Poly professors on their efforts in introducing their students to this process.

Staff offered a clip from the movie "Diamonds are Forever" in its presentation of the project.
Staff offered a clip from the movie “Diamonds are Forever” in its presentation of the project.

The multiple property submission will now be forwarded to the State Historic Preservation Officer for nomination to the National Register. The final determination is made 45 days after receipt by the Keeper of the National Register in Washington, D.C. As there have been no objections to the listing and the properties meet the criteria of the National Register they are expected to be listed.

The success of this application opens the door for additional applications by Lautner building owners and others. Much of the base work has been done. The Foundation is happy to assist with research and other aspects of the process. Please contact the Foundation through this form if you would like more information: 

Elrod House to be Listed for Sale Next Week

Living room from pool. Photograph by Melaina Mace & Marco Recuay, use courtesy of Michael Kilroy

The Elrod House, one of the best known of the homes designed by John Lautner, will be listed for sale early this coming week, according to owner Michael Kilroy. Built in 1968 atop a ridge overlooking Palm Springs and the southern Coachella Valley, providing views also of the San Jacinto Mountains to the west and San Bernardinos to the north and east, this home has been featured in the James Bond movie “Diamonds Are Forever” and in many high-end advertising campaigns.  As well-known and high-profile as the Elrod House is, Kilroy has helped create different kinds of memories of it for many people.

entry stairs to guest house
Entry stairs to guest house. Photograph by Melaina Mace & Marco Recuay, use courtesy of Michael Kilroy

Judith Lautner first saw the house as a young woman working for her father, when the two visited Arthur Elrod soon after it was built and then later when he was working on the Hope residence.  Lautner and Elrod had become good friends during the design and construction of Elrod’s house. Judith says that she loved visiting it at different times of the day because it became a different house every hour. Arthur’s death was a great loss to all who knew him and to the broader design world. He was both a major design force — John Lautner once remarked that no house he designed was better furnished than when Arthur furnished the Elrod House — and a kind man who generously helped many in the various communities around him.

Kitchen. Photograph by Melaina Mace & Marco Recuay, use courtesy of Michael Kilroy.
Kitchen. Photograph by Melaina Mace & Marco Recuay, use courtesy of Michael Kilroy.

Judith Lautner didn’t see the house again until many years later, when she and her sister Karol Lautner Peterson first met Michael Kilroy after he bought the property in 2003.  Judith says, “Michael spoke highly of both the work of John Lautner and of the efforts of the John Lautner Foundation, then asked if Karol and I had ever stayed in a home designed by our father. Moments later, he offered to lend the house to us and members of the extended Lautner clan, so that we could all stay together in a home designed by John Lautner. It was a week-long stay which none of us will soon forget, one during which we drew lots for the privilege of spending the night in the main bedroom and cooked each night in the generous kitchen. I liked the guest bedroom so much I didn’t give it up all week.”

This generous sharing of the Elrod House with others became the norm under Michael’s ownership. When the Hammer Museum was organizing its landmark exhibition of the work of John Lautner, the first comprehensive exhibit of his work, and Michael learned that architectural historian Nicholas Olsberg and the other curators of the exhibit had never stayed in a Lautner house, he lent them his, his only caveat being that they stay for at least three nights, so they could “start to really get some of the subtleties of the design.”

As noted in the film “Infinite Space: the Architecture of John Lautner,” when the Dutch architects and students who were traveling to every known Lautner project arrived in Palm Springs and reached Michael by phone that morning, he asked where they were staying that night, then put them up in the house. Michael also provided the house to numerous groups for charity events, like the Palm Springs Preservation Society’s Retro Martini Party in 2010 (half of the profits went to the Foundation), and a series of TEDActive events in 2012, and opened it to the general public for multiple days of tours during Modernism Week 2012 with the proceeds donated to the Los Angeles Conservancy. Michael  continued to share the property while a dispute over lender manipulation of mortgage interest rates dragged on between a multinational bank and hundreds of property owners including himself; the dispute lasted more than seven years and involved more than four years of litigation in half a dozen legal venues before that bank settled with him last year.

Pool deck below living area. Photograph by Melaina Mace & Marco Recuay, use courtesy of Michael Kilroy
Pool deck below living area. Photograph by Melaina Mace & Marco Recuay, use courtesy of Michael Kilroy

Michael’s sharing of the Elrod House in a variety of different ways, for more than a dozen years now, has meant that many more people than would otherwise be the case have been able to experience first-hand one of the greatest works of John Lautner. We are fortunate that owners like Michael Kilroy have been so impressed by John Lautner’s work that they not only buy and preserve these wonderful properties but also go out of their way to share them with others in ways which can greatly spread the enjoyment and understanding of these great designs.

The Elrod House will be listed by Tyler Morgan, Keith Markovitz and Todd Monaghan of HK Lane/Christie’s International Real Estate in Palm Springs.

National Register Nominations to go to State

The Foundation is pleased to announce the submission of eight Lautner buildings,  a “Multiple Property Submission”,  to the National Register of Historic Places.  The application is to be heard on the State Historic Resources Commission agenda on January 29, 2016, in Sacramento.  Members of the public are welcome to attend. The meeting will start at 9 am at

Sacramento City Hall Council Chamber
915 I Street
Sacramento, Ca 95814

Carling Residence

The application was prepared by  two Cal Poly professors: Lauren Weiss Bricker and Luis Hoyos, with assistance from their students, and with revisions by Christine Lazzaretto of Historic Resources Group.  It was a joint project of the Cal Poly professors and The John Lautner Foundation, which provided information and funding where needed.

Schaffer Residence
Schaffer Residence
Harpel Residence
Harpel Residence

The eight buildings are:

  • Lautner House
  • Foster Carling House
  • Schaffer House
  • Harvey House
  • Harpel House
  • Pearlman Mountain Cabin
  • Elrod House
  • Walstrom House
Harvey Residence
Harvey Residence



The application is the culmination of several years’ work, primarily by Bricker and Hoyos, and contains historical and architectural detail of each building, along with photographs.  If the state commission approves the nomination it will be forwarded to the Keeper of the National Register, who will approve or deny the application.

It is rare for a nomination to be denied after the state office has approved it. If the application is approved, the listing will pave the way for further nominations of Lautner buildings. The Foundation intends to pursue additional nominations either on its own or in collaboration with others and encourages all owners of Lautner buildings to look into the potential for listing their Lautner property. We are happy to assist.

John and Mary Lautner Residence







The application is expected to be on the “consent” agenda, which means that it will not be discussed separately. However, any consent item can be pulled from the agenda and discussed.  Bricker and Hoyos expect to be at the meeting, along with representatives from Historic Resources Group, and members of the Board of Directors of the Foundation.

Walstrom Residence

While not required, support in the form of letters is encouraged.  There is no required format for such letters. We have provided a sample letter (in Microsoft Word format) to get you started.

Letters should be sent to

State Historical Resources Commission
P.O. Box 942896
Sacramento, CA 94296-0001

Or you can send comments by email to calshpo@parks.ca.gov

Elrod Residence


The Foundation’s primary purpose is the preservation of Lautner buildings along with the education of the public on the value and importance of Lautner’s architecture. Listing of these eight homes will provide a level of protection for the buildings as well as increased visibility of this architecture.  We are therefore very excited about this application and mark it as a significant point in the Foundation’s history.

Pearlman Mountain Cabin

Purchase Tickets to Elrod Cocktail Party Now

Elrod House

Opening Night Cocktail Reception
Arthur Elrod House, 1968, John Lautner, architect

One of the most remarkable houses in America, the Elrod House on Southridge in Palm Springs, has panoramic views of the San Jacinto mountains. Its conical concrete roof hovers above the circular living room and provides a dramatic space from which to enjoy the desert below. The west glass facade opens electronically and bisects the pool, famous in a scene from the movie Diamonds are Forever.

John Lautner, the architect of numerous residences in Los Angeles, including the iconic Chemosphere House, conceived the Elrod House as a protective cave and controlled how the desert light and heat entered the space. The residence is a stunning location for the kick-off of Modernism Week.

Reception guests will be taken in shuttle buses from the Rim Rocks shopping center, leaving every 10 minutes.

Photo credit: Elrod House, 1968, photograph by Leland Lee

7-10 PM, Thursday, February 16, 2012
Rimrock Shopping Center, 4733 E Palm Canyon Dr.

Buy Tickets

San Francisco Interview with Grigor on Lautner

Kenny Caldwell, architectural writer, interviewed Murray Grigor, director of Infinite Space, after the screening of the film in San Francisco. The interview, with pictures, is published on one of Caldwell’s blogs, Design Faith. The perceptive questions reveal much about Lautner’s relationship to the earth and to his clients as well as offer insight into the making of the film.

Exhibit in Palm Springs Takes Different Approach

From Palm Springs Exhibit

The Hammer museum exhibit, Between Earth and Heaven: The Architecture of John Lautner, is ending its travels in the Palm Springs Art Museum. Because the exhibit space and lighting is different from what was available at the Hammer the exhibit is laid out differently.

There is an entrance area showing early influences on Lautner, as at the Hammer, then a spiral-shaped path winds its way through the center room, where many plans, sketches, and working models are displayed. The models are in glass cases, allowing close viewing. Finally, an outer ring contains the large-scale exhibit models with their photographic scenic backdrops. Film loops are shown on transparent screens rather than on the wall. Very little material from the original exhibit has been excluded from this smaller-sized version.

The exhibit continues through May 30, 2010. Get an idea of how the exhibit looks through the Foundation’s picasaweb album:

Update: Elrod House for Sale

Updated Feb. 1, 2010: added sales flyer link

Lautner’s Elrod House in Palm Springs is on the market again, after many years owned and cared for by its current owner. The sale price is over 13 million, and it is being sold along with two other properties in the same development, under the same ownership.

The house has been featured extensively in magazine articles and was, of course, the house used in the James Bond film, Diamonds are Forever. It is one of three buildings in the Palm Springs area designed by Lautner (the other two are the Hope house and the Desert Hot Springs Motel).

See more information in the curbed LA article, including realtor links. And this flyer from the realtor.

Martha Stewart Visits Elrod Residence

In the October 2009 edition of Martha Stewart Living is a mention of Lautner’s Elrod residence:

The Elrod house(1968), my favorite, was designed by John Lautner, an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright. A soaring poured-concrete ceiling punctuated with glass, took my breath away and the views from the retractable windows captured the landscape.

Find it on page 25, along with a nice photograph of the Elrod living room.