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John Lautner (16 July, 1911 - 24 October, 1994) was an influential Americanmarker architect whose work in Southern California combined progressive engineering with humane design and dramatic space-age flair.


Lautner was born in Marquette, Michiganmarker and attended Frank Lloyd Wright's Taliesinmarker Fellowship for six years in the 1930s as architectural training, with great artists and architects like E. Fay Jones, Paolo Soleri and Santiago Martinez Delgado, serving as construction manager on Wright's Johnson residence "Wingspread" and on two projects in Los Angelesmarker (including the Sturges Housemarker). He stands among the most successful of Taliesin graduates.

The Chemospheremarker house has become a Los Angelesmarker landmark that conveys both hope and folly. It was used in Brian De Palma's film Body Double, and also appears in Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas. In 2000 German publisher Benedikt Taschen purchased and restored the house with architects Frank Escher and Ravi GuneWardena. A Chemosphere copy is used as the set for Current TV.

Although mostly known for residences, Lautner also contributed to the commercial genre of Googie. Googie was named in derogatory reference to Lautner's 1949 design for Googie's Coffee Shop (at the corner of Sunset Strip and Crescent Heights) in a 1952 magazine article by Yale Universitymarker professor Douglas Haskell. The coffee shop itself was distinctive for its expansive glass walls, arresting form, and exuberant signage oriented to car traffic: an advertisement for itself. Other chains such as Tiny Naylor's, Ship's, Norm's and Clock's quickly imitated the look, which proves its commercial value.

Googie became part of the American postwar Zeitgeist, but was ridiculed by the architectural community of the 1950s as superficial and vulgar. Not until Robert Venturi's 1972 book "Learning from Las Vegas" did the architectural mainstream even come close to validating Lautner's logic. Lautner's reputation suffered as a result. Following some lean years in the 1950s and 1960s, he enjoyed something of a resurgence with his poured-concrete houses in the 1970s, notably the Bob Hope Residence and other houses in Palm Springsmarker.

Among Lautner's other works include the Arango Residence in Acapulco, Mexicomarker with its concrete sky-moat, and the landmark Desert Hot Springs Motel in Palm Springs. His dramatic and photogenic spaces are frequently exploited in films, notably the Palm Springs Elrod Residence used to good effect in the 1971 James Bond film Diamonds Are Forever. Lautner also designed a home on Malibu's Carbon Beach which was owned by Courtney Cox. The home sold for $33.5 million.

One of the few Lautner buildings regularly open to the general public is the Desert Hot Springs Motel, restored in 2001.

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