Frank Lloyd Wright called him “the world’s second-best architect.”1 His spectacular homes have been the settings for commercials, Vogue fashion spreads, and dozens of movies. Most people have seen his astonishing work, but very few know his name. It’s John Lautner.
Lautner’s “Chemosphere,” built in 1960, looks like a flying saucer or the home of the Jetsons. It’s actually a 2,200-square-foot family home. The octagonal “saucer,” supported by eight steel beams, rests on a concrete post. The home was put together with epoxy—a material that Lautner was the first to use in home building.2
In Diamonds are Forever (1971), James Bond did battle with bikini-clad guards Bambi and Thumper in Lautner’s Elrod House (1968), a dramatic, circular concrete structure built into, around, and incorporating the jagged rocks of a Palm Springs cliff.3 Bond lost the fight and was thrown into the pool—an indoor-outdoor infinity pool—that Lautner invented and first used in the 1950s.4 . . .