Saturday, April 14, 2012

Part III: Architectural Mentors: LaVerne Lantz

LaVerne Lantz was always "clear headed" (his words) about the right (Wright) way to design a home. That meant that design decisions were based on a logical set of principals that wed architecture to nature in a practical and efficient manner. As seen in the previous post, that could result in elegantly simple designs that the average person could afford.
A curvilinear home designed and built by LaVerne Lantz. 
Somewhat surprisingly, such logical goals did not deter Lantz from exploring new building materials and non-rectilinear forms whenever presented by opportunity. Many of his projects were based on hexagonal themes, such as the second home on Moraine End built for the LaVerne and Molly Lantz family. The three-winged composition of thirty degree and sixty degree angles eventually expanded to a hexagonal guest house connected by a low-slung breezeway. The 30-60 geometry is as natural upon the landscape as a honeycomb in a beehive.
Another home was built on the same hill for adventuresome clients. It consisted of curvilinear walls with plexiglas bubble windows and an open plan with no separation between "rooms". The exterior of that project is illustrated here.
Other homes explored non-vertical exterior walls, cantilevered floors, and mitered-glass skylights. Always they used an earth-based color palette and undisguised finish materials.
This willingness to explore and experiment is, perhaps, Lantz's most important architectural legacy. His work encourages a spirit of adventure. Though anchored in the Usonian idealism of Frank Lloyd Wright, his residential designs were always original, inventive, and confident. The confidence came from his belief that "a well designed house [will] fit the site and become an integral part of the landscape as well as give the occupants a feeling of peace and contentment. Homes designed in this manner do not go out of style, but... are forever." (From The Well Designed Home by LaVerne Lantz.)

Illustration: M. Knorr


  1. I fondly recall a visit to the Lantz's house (maybe the one on Moraine End?) on a snowy March afternoon in 1972. Although I don't remember many specific details, what I do remember is an extraordinarily strong sensation of well-being and comfort, and a realization that this feeling emanated from the design of this space. How remarkable (and how unusual) it is to deeply "feel" a space, to have a sensation that is derived from the space one is in. Sadly, there aren't too many spaces in my life that I can say that about. But in the modest living room of the Lantz home, watching the snow fall in the forest through large windows, connected to but protected from nature, surrounded by warm materials and thoughtful design, I felt a serenity and sense of beauty that is rare.

  2. this home is for sale for just 325k dome one who loves and understands it must buy it so it remains in existence