Many of the Los Angeles great mid century buildings have suffered strong transformation in time. John Lautner`s Garcia House, built in 1962, is one of them. Lautner sadly left our world in 1994, he was one of the geniuses of California modernism and his name will remain in the architecture history forever.
In most of his projects, he tried to create a strong connection, a connection established between the highly personal architectural language that bent to the needs of the owner, creating a symbiosis between the two.
We are glad to affirm that Lautner`s vision survived, the sculptural brio is still in shape and hopefully will remain that way, keeping the Garcia House an icon for his work. However the structure of this marvel has suffered transformations,rust, dry rot and water damage being on duty everyday. The house had a series of insensitive renovations that that militated against the transparent spaces, the vision of muscular forms flowing.
The Garcia House, happily met a couple of people that managed to see a spectacular promise beneath layer of dust and rust, the saviors were John McIlwee, an entertainment business manager and Bill Damaschke, an executive at DreamWorks.
They have enlisted the service of a premier restorer, Marmol Radziner, a firm well known for restoring classic midcentury houses.
“Our goal was never to do a but to create something that maintained the spirit of Lautner’s work and also made sense for the 21st century” , Ron Radziner relates. “We wanted to make the house livable for the next hundred years, so it would be much more difficult for people to make a case that it should be torn down.”
The expertise of Marmol Radziner managed to approach sensible problems and aspects of the renovation, such as the glass door that leads to an exterior staircase along the side of the curved shape structure.The original realized by Lautner, as every architecture project, needed improvements like setting a door within the complicated geometries, the restoration team and the contemporary resources managed to craft the perfect piece in it`s own shop easily, this act being proof of how far we`ve progressed in designing. Also in Lautner`s original design the entry sequence was not properly resolved, the entry progression led down an important staircase set apart the structure, one half being devoted to public spaces and the other being fitted with the intimate bedroom areas. Trough time and over the years the need of privacy and security drove the owners to enclose the stair with solid walls, solid walls that are would block transparency, the main attribute of the Lautner`s design. Marmol Radziner restoration team developed a system of glass walls along with semi-opaque limits that managed to return the central core to its intended status, as a part of the outdoor space.
“For the interior, we didn’t think it appropriate to do anything supercontemporary, but we also didn’t want a caricature of midcentury modern,” says McIlwee. A reference from a friend led the owners to New York decorator Darren Brown. “I wanted to give this house the feeling of a masculine bachelor pad with a 1970s vibe,” Brown says. “At our first meeting, I gave them a look book that included photographs of Halston and Bianca Jagger leaving Studio 54.”
The interior pulls together furnishing that covers a wide range of periods and provenances but the most important thing is that resonates attitude, masculine attitude forged in an eclectic mix which includes Charles Hollis Jones’ mammoth Lucite coffee table and four-poster bed,python pillows, a Warren Platner dining table, and a custom Edward Fields carpet.
“With modern architecture, there’s potential for it to feel cold, but this house is incredibly warm and cozy,” Damaschke says. “I don’t feel like I have to tiptoe around my own home.”