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COMMENTARY

An L.a. Story

Lautner's designs were as unconventional as the city itself. It's time to embrace the legacy.

July 23, 2011|Alan Hess

But as usual, Lautner's daring leap beyond convention caused him problems. Many uncomprehending critics glommed onto this unconventional car-oriented design and turned the very name "Googie" into a definition for cheaply built commercial architecture. Lautner smarted over this for the rest of his career.

"Thorny with ideas" is how McCoy described Lautner's architecture. Few interpreted the fundamental if thorny urban truths of L.A. better. Living in a city shaped by these ideas, we should look at his architecture again and again to see ourselves more clearly.

For The Record
Los Angeles Times Saturday, July 23, 2011 Home Edition Main News Part A Page 4 News Desk 1 inches; 34 words Type of Material: Correction
Silvertop: A July 23 Home section commentary on architect John Lautner said the living room of the Silver Lake house known as Silvertop is 3,000 square feet. The living room is 1,000 square feet.

Lautner wrestled with L.A. his entire career. It wasn't easy, but the struggle resulted in great buildings that give us insight into our city. Like Lautner, Los Angeles shouldn't need to look over its shoulder to know when we're doing it right.

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An article and photo gallery on John Lautner's Chemosphere have been added to our Landmark Houses library online, latimes.com/landmarkhouses. Comments: home@latimes.com

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Lautner centennial celebration

The John Lautner Foundation and the MAK Center for Art and Architecture at the Schindler House report that their Lautner home tour on Saturday has sold out. But some other events remain, celebrating what would have been the architect's 100th birthday this month:

* Exhibition. The Art Catalogues Bookstore at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art displays an archival model and photographs of Lautner's Goldstein office through Sunday. Free. 5905 Wilshire Blvd., Los Angeles. www.lacma.org.

* Films. Three documentary films explore Lautner's work. The short "John Lautner: The Desert Hot Springs Motel" (2007) will be screened with the features "The Spirit in Architecture: John Lautner" (1991) and "Infinite Space: The Architecture of John Lautner" (2008). 7 to 10:30 p.m. July 30. $7 to $11. American Cinematheque's Egyptian Theatre, 6712 Hollywood Blvd., Los Angeles. www.american cinematheque.com .

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