Iconic Perspectives: John Lautner’s Sheats-Goldstein Residence
Originally designed by the influential architect in 1961, it surely isn’t the same as it once was in the ‘60s. However, a unique collaborative relationship between the architect and the current homeowner has turned it into a one-of-a-kind masterpiece that recalls many of Lautner’s original intentions.
Watch this video to take a personal tour with James Goldstein—who has lived there for more than 40 years—and continue reading to hear more about how the collaboration took place.
After Lautner’s house had made its way through the ‘60s and ‘70s, the house had gone through multiple changes by the initial homeowners. In the meantime, as an architecture enthusiast himself, James Goldstein had been looking for the perfect contemporary house in L.A. for two years. When he walked into the house in 1975, he immediately saw the potential and knew he had to have it. Regardless of a number of possible drawbacks—including some outdated changes involving green shag and a bright turquoise bathroom—he lived in the house for a few years before embarking on a journey to bring the house to its fullest potential.
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In 1979, Goldstein got in touch with Lautner and approached him with the fearless idea of perfecting every inch of the house that had been neglected or changed. The two of them embarked on a collaborative, ever-evolving process that would last for 15 years—until Lautner passed away in 1994.
When we sat down with Goldstein, he explained that Lautner never outwardly offered his vision of the house. "He wanted to know my vision and never suggested any specific improvements. He would wait for me to say what I wanted to improve on, and then would suggest ways of implementing those ideas," he explains. They went from project to project while Goldstein was living there full-time.
"Good design is based on careful research of what’s been done before and where design is going in the future. It should be something that has never been done before—and should have no limitations." - James Goldstein
As we wandered around the house, we were shown a number of elements that have become known as "Lautner signatures" and that represent Southern California architecture. Along with a strong connection to the outdoors, the house consists of a substantial amount of seamless glass, triangles everywhere (with very few right angles to be found), an element of surprise and danger at every corner, tons of concrete, and no division between the interior and exterior.
Goldstein reminisced that when Lautner first saw the state of the house in the late ‘70s, he was shocked—and was excited work on reviving the house together. He told us, "The first official project I wanted to do was to replace the glass in the living room. I was inspired by another frameless glass house that Lautner was designing, and knew I had to do it here."
Goldstein recently announced that he’s donating the house, its contents, and the means to take care of it to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA). He decided a while ago to leave it in the hands of an institution that will keep it in the same condition and that will share it with the public—especially with up-and-coming architecture and design students.
Learn more about the 2016 International Iconic Houses Conference here—where we were given the chance to tour this incredible home.