Tuesday, July 24, 2018

Architecture For Sale

One of my favorite houses is for sale. If only I had $23 million.

The 1924 Ennis house in Los Angeles, designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, is on the market. It is recognizable to many people from films, playing prominently in Bladerunner (the original) and Day of the Locust, among many others. It was even used in a Michael Jackson music video. The house is very noticable from the streets below its perch in the Los Feliz district of LA. The Ennis house, named for the original client, looms above Sunset Boulevard like a Mayan temple. It is one of several concrete block houses designed by Wright for Los Angeles clients in the 1920s. It is also the biggest.

The Ennis house was in danger of being lost to architecture afficianados due to earthquake and mudslide damage. For a time the city of Los Angeles owned it, but never found the resources to adequately restore it. The current owner and seller, billionaire Ron Burkle, has pumped a sufficient amount of money into stabilizing and restoring this classic design. By Los Angeles standards it is no doubt worth the asking price.

I don't know why this is one of my favorite houses. There is something very exotic -- almost decadent -- about it, even for Wright. I feel a little guilt for liking it. The decorative light fixtures and original furnishings have been attributed to Wright, but they don't look like his work to me. I believe they might have been designed or selected by  Lloyd Wright, his son and also an architect. Lloyd assisted his father on the concrete block projects and acted as his local representative. The younger Wright's work tended to Hollywood theatricality, so this makes sense. Other non-Wrightian features are beamed ceilings (Wright almost never used exposed beams), black-and-white ceramic tile in one of the bathrooms, red and black tiles in another, and white travetine in a main gallery. Wright's color schemes were normally earth toned. Perhaps an interior decorator co-opted some of these decisions.  Those design details are a mystery to me. It is no wonder that so many movies have used this Mayan palace as code for intrigue and mystery.

If you have the wherewithal to make an offer, click here for the realtor's website.