John Lautner

A Brief Biography

John Edward Lautner was an American architect who lived from 1911-1994. Lautner was born in Marquette, Michigan. In 1929, John Lautner enrolled in the Liberal Arts program at his father’s college — now renamed Northern State Teachers College — where he studied philosophy, ethics, physics, literature, drafting, art and architectural history.

His first significant solo project was his own Los Angeles home, the Lautner House, which was completed in 1939. It helped to establish his name and was featured in Home Beautiful where it was praised by Henry-Russell Hitchcock as “the best house in the United States by an architect under thirty”.

One of his famous quotes was:

To me, architecture is an art, naturally, and it isn’t architecture unless it’s alive. Alive is what art is. If it’s not alive, it’s dead, and it’s not art.

John Lautner designed over 200 architectural projects during his prolific career, but many designs for larger buildings were never built. His thoughtful application of the principles of Organic Architecture was profoundly influenced by his apprenticeship under Frank Lloyd Wright.

Richard Neutra died in Los Angeles, California, on October 24, 1994, at the age of 83.

Key works

The Chemosphere | Los Angeles, California [1960]
Garcia House | Los Angeles, California [1962]
Sheats-Goldstein Residence | Los Angeles [1963]
Elrod House | Palm Springs, California [1968]
Casa Marbrisa | Acapulco, Mexico [1973]
Turner House | Aspen, Colorado [1982]

Photo of the Chemosphere taken by Jeremy Sternberg, entitled “Chemosphere”
(CC BY-NC 2.0)