House tour: Architectural homes in Los Angeles

Visit these important architectural homes from some of LA's pioneering greats like Eames, Gehry and Neutra.

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  • Photograph: ercwttmn

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Eames House

  • Photograph: John Morse

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Eames House

  • Photograph Courtesy Mak Center

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Schindler House

  • Photograph Courtesy Mak Center

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Schindler House

  • Photograph Courtesy Mak Center

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Schindler House

  • Photograph Courtesy Mak Center

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Schindler House

  • Photograph Courtesy Mak Center

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Schindler House

  • Photograph: Courtesy Historical Society of Southern California

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Lummis House (El Alisal)

  • Photograph: Courtesy Historical Society of Southern California

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Lummis House (El Alisal)

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Hollyhock House

  • Photograph: Jakob N. Layman

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Hollyhock House

  • Photograph: Courtesy Maloof Foundation

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Sam Maloof House

  • Photograph: Courtesy Maloof Foundation

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Sam Maloof House

  • Photograph: Courtesy Maloof Foundation

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Sam Maloof House

  • Photograph: Courtesy Maloof Foundation

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Sam Maloof House

  • Photograph: Courtesy Maloof Foundation

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Sam Maloof House

  • Photograph: Courtesy Maloof Foundation

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Sam Maloof House

  • Photograph: Courtesy Maloof Foundation

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Sam Maloof House

  • Photograph: Courtesy Greystone Mansion

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Greystone Mansion

  • Photograph: Courtesy Greystone Mansion

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Greystone Mansion

  • Photograph: Courtesy Gamble House

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Gamble House

  • Photograph: Courtesy Gamble House

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Gamble House

  • Photograph: Doncram

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Neutra VDL Research House

  • Photograph: Doncram

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Neutra VDL Research House

  • Photograph: Courtesy Avila Adobe

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Avila Adobe

  • Photograph: Courtesy Avila Adobe

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Avila Adobe

  • Photograph: Courtesy Avila Adobe

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Avila Adobe

  • Photograph: Courtesy Avila Adobe

    Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Avila Adobe

  • Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Frank Gehry House

     

     

Photograph: ercwttmn

Architectural homes in Los Angeles: Eames House

From tract homes to Case Study Houses, Southern California has always been at the forefront of residential home design (even Ice Cube knows it). Whether you’re interested in local history, celebrity digs or plain old house porn, we’ve got a spot for you. So get off the beaten museum track and check out these landmark architectural homes, all within a few mile radius and (mostly) open to the public.

Eames House

Designing couple Charles and Ray Eames were known for their intelligence and their joie de vivre, both of which are apparent at the Eames House nestled in the Pacific Palisades. One of Southern California’s most beloved examples of modernist residential design, with its Mondrian-style color-block exterior and environmentally-sensitive siting, this home was the Eames’ residence from the time they moved in—on Christmas Eve of 1949—until their deaths in the '70s and '80s, respectively. Visitors park a couple blocks away and walk up the hilly driveway for a self-guided tour of the exterior ($10, reservations required). Interior tours are more difficult to come by: Members are invited for an appreciation day, always scheduled near the Eames’ June 20 anniversary. Anyone can book a one-hour personal tour ($275; $200 for members), but if you’re a real Eames fan, you may want to splurge on the picnic for four in the meadow ($750; $675 for members) and recreate the opening shots of the duo’s popular Powers of Ten video.

  1. Pacific Palisades
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Schindler House

Sleeping baskets on the roof, communal kitchens and a revolving-door salon of artists. Nope, not a Burning Man camp: This is the Schindler House, designed by Austrian architect Rudolf Schindler, who built it as a dual-family residence in which his family cohabited for a time with his frenemy and fellow influential architect Richard Neutra. A quiet, Japanese-influenced concrete building hidden behind a bamboo grove on a street of condos, this experiment in living now houses the Mak Center, a Vienna-based institute that runs a fantastic program of events in the space, including experimental fashion shows, innovative performance art and concerts of new, original compositions. During the week, visitors can wander around the empty house and imagine themselves part of the freewheeling LA bohemia of the 1920s and '30s.

  1. West Hollywood
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Lummis House (El Alisal)

  • Free

Where would we be without those energetic civic boosters that built Los Angeles? The prolific Charles Fletcher Lummis founded the Southwest Museum, was an editor at the Los Angeles Times, and still managed to design this house (the name of which means “the Sycamore” in Spanish) on the banks of the Arroyo Seco. Its exterior is made almost entirely from river rock and the interior is heavily influenced by Pueblo Indian dwellings. Fans of today’s DIY movement will appreciate the rustic Craftsman charm of this home, which is furnished with hand-crafted wood pieces; it’s interesting to see how closely modern-day bohemian design mirrors that of Lummis House. The Historical Society of Southern California is now headquartered here, and it holds several Sunday afternoon programs a year, as well as an annual holiday open house in December.

  1. Eastside
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Hollyhock House

This 1921, Mayan-inflected Frank Lloyd Wright house was originally built as a “progressive theatrical community” space by activist and oil heiress Aline Barnsdall. Today it’s the centerpiece of Barnsdall Park and is open for tours during the park’s popular Friday night wine tasting events. Rudolf Schindler, a protégé of Wright’s, was the overseeing architect on this project (unusual for Wright, who typically was on-site for all of his buildings) and by all reports it was a contentious building process, with the same delays and cost overruns familiar to anyone who’s attempted construction. After it was completed, frequent flooding of the living room in the short yet destructive rainy season and seismic concerns prevented Barnsdall from living in the gorgeous but impractical concrete and stucco house for long—though she did spend the rest of her life in a smaller house on the property, which the family called Olive Hill.

  1. Hollywood
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Sam Maloof House

Master woodworker Sam Maloof and his carpenters designed and built this lovely, thoughtful home piece by piece in his on-site workshop; no two door openings are the same here, and each joint is a wonder of craftsmanship. A MacArthur Genius Grant recipient, Maloof has had his iconic rocking chairs shown at the Smithsonian; he also designed the chairs that were used on-camera at the history-changing Nixon/Kennedy debates. Visitors can see some of this furniture, as well as the wide-ranging collection of arts-and-craft pieces that he and his wife of 50 years, Alfreda, amassed together. The garden, which he tended, and the house are both open for tours; if you ask, you might be able to peek into the workshop, where he continued building until his death in 2009 at the age of 93.

  1. Rancho Cucamonga
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