December 08, 2018

Photo Essay: The Lautner House Built for Jazz, Made of Rainbows and Tears

The Garcia House isn't as famous as its Hollywood neighbor, The Chemosphere, even though they were both designed by architect John Lautner.

But even though I didn't know it by name—or by its '70s-era nickname, the "Rainbow House"—I'm sure I'd seen at least parts of it before in a movie. (Scroll to the bottom to watch a pinnacle scene from Lethal Weapon 2.)

But I've learned by now that if its part of the Lautner oeuvre, I want to see it.

And the Garcia House did not disappoint.

Built in 1962 for jazz musician, composer, and arranger Russ Garcia and his wife Gina, the house leads you in a dizzying spiral of curves and teardrops that makes you question whether you're inside or outside at any given time.

Vacated by the Garcias in 1966—who sold all their possessions to buy a boat, sail the world, and eventually land in Fiji—it was famously occupied by actor Vincent Gallo and later sensitively restored for the greater part of the first decade of the new millennium.

The original and new terrazzo floors join together both distinctly and seamlessly.

The "Rainbow" nickname came not only from the curved shape of the roof (actually two distinct halves that unite as one)...

...but also the array of colored glass windows across the back facade.

Perched up high in the Hollywood Hills off of Mulholland Drive between Briar Summit Open Space Preserve and the north entrance of Runyon Canyon...'s one of those gravity-defying houses that are both an engineering marvel and a nailbiter to visit, especially while walking past those V-shaped supports in the house's undercarriage.

One of the later additions to the property was actually part of Lautner's original plan—a teardrop-shaped swimming pool that the Garcias couldn't afford to build at the time.

That's where you get the best view of the house—and of Hollywood below.

But inside (which I can't show you, as photos were not allowed and people live there now), Hollywood practically disappears.

The Hills, however, do not.

Since moving to LA, I've had the pleasure of touring lots of homes that would be a dream come true for lots of other people—but not necessarily me. I can barely envision a life outside of my apartment—or, really, any apartment.

But sitting on the L-shaped couch of the Garcia House, I could really imagine myself living there.

Maybe one day I will.

Related Posts:
Photo Essay: John Lautner's Sheats-Goldstein Residence, Before Private Becomes Public
Photo Essay: California Dream Homes
Photo Essay: A Modernist Desert Dwelling

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