John Lautner was born in Michigan to John E. Lautner, a teacher, and Vida C. Gallagher, an interior designer and painter. The Lautner’s were very interested in art and architecture and were a great influence to Lautner. He enrolled in the Liberal Arts program at his father’s college where he studied drafting, art, and architecture history. After reading Frank Lloyd Wright‘s autobiography, Lautner’s mother approached Wright and had Lautner admitted to Wright’s new apprenticeship program where Lautner worked and studied from 1933-1939. Wright became Lautner’s mentor for most of his life.
The Work of John Lautner
Lautner left the program and started his own architecture practice in Los Angeles while still working together with Wright. His first solo project was the Lautner House which gained him much recognition. His article on the Lautner House was published in the June-July edition of California Arts & Architecture. The House was also featured in Home Beautiful where architectural historian Henry-Russell Hitchcock named it “the best house in the United States by an architect under thirty.”
Following the Lautner House, his Bell House project earned him praise and recognition and was featured over the next couple years in the Los Angeles Times, Arts and Architecture, Architectural Forum, and House and Garden which called it “the model house for California living.” During the war, Lautner worked on wartime military construction and engineering projects in California. Lautner continued to design and collaborate with other architects for the next few decades. He designed domestic residences and also worked on grander projects such as 1984 Olympic Games in Los Angeles where he was chosen as the Olympic Architect.
Lautner’s earlier style was an influence of Wright, but later he developed his own personal style that showed a strong preoccupation with essential geometric forms, such as the circle and triangle. Lautner’s homes were often rooted in the idea of combining a house’s location with its surrounding natural aspects. He was best known for combining progressive engineering with organic design and dramatic futuristic style.