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Chemosphere (1958-1960), Los Angeles,Calif. Photo: Joshua White/

Exhibit celebrates architect John Lautner’s 100th birthday

Chemosphere (1958-1960), Los Angeles,Calif. Photo: Joshua White/
Chemosphere (1958-1960), Los Angeles,Calif. Photo: Joshua White/
MARQUETTE, Mich. (AP) – An exhibit featuring architect John Lautner is open at the DeVos Art Museum at Northern Michigan University in Marquette. The exhibit celebrates what would have been Lautner’s 100th birthday and will be open until Nov. 13.

Lautner was born in Marquette and graduated from Northern Michigan University. He later studied with famed architect Frank Lloyd Wright.

DeVos Art Museum Director Melissa Matuscak said Lautner’s success proves that “because you’re from a small town, doesn’t mean that you can’t go on to do incredible things.”

John Lautner (1911-1994) is considered one of the visionary architects of the 20th century. He received a liberal arts degree from Northern Michigan before leaving to study with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin. He settled in Los Angeles where he became well known for designing innovative structures, particularly residential buildings that demonstrated a true sensitivity to location, space, structure and the wishes and needs of the clients he worked with. Lautner received the Gold Medal of the American Institutes of Architects in 1993.

This is the first exhibition in Lautner’s hometown and highlights a range of Lautner’s residential architectural styles through drawings, floorplans, models, photography and video. The exhibition will focus on eight of Lautner’s residential designs that span his career and highlight his ability to create a range of spaces, from intimate to grand. Buildings include Carling (1947, Los Angeles); Hatherall (1958, Shadow Hills, Calif.); Concannon (1960, Beverly Hills, Calif.; Chemosphere (1958-60, Los Angeles); Garcia (1962, Los Angeles); Sheats/Goldstein (1962-63, Beverly Hills, Calif.); Harpel #2 (1966, Anchorage, Alaska), and Marbrisa (1971-73, Acapulco, Mexico).

The exhibition includes sketches, drawings and plans created by Lautner’s firm, on loan from the Getty Research Institute and the John Lautner Foundation; models created by the Hammer Museum at UCLA and a new model of the demolished Concannon residence created by Hayke Zweede with assistance from Ko Jacobs, Tycho Saariste and Jan-Richard Kikkert; photographs by renowned architectural photographer Julius Shulman and contemporary architectural photographers Alan Weintraub, Zachary Cornwell, Francois Dischinger and Joshua White. There will also be excerpts from two documentary films on Lautner (Spirit in Architecture and Infinite Space) and previously unreleased audio of Lautner discussing his designs, provided by Sprit in Architecture director Bette Cohen.

Related events:

Sunday, Sept. 18, 3 p.m. / Tycho Saariste & Jan-Richard Kikkert: lecture

Jan-Richard Kikkert and Tycho Saariste are practicing architects based in the Netherlands. Since 2007 they have been researching Lautner’s buildings and developed a course about the architect at the Artez Academy of Architecture at Arnhem. The course included a research trip to Los Angeles with students to view over 80 Lautner buildings in 10 days.


Friday, Sept. 30, 7 p.m. / The Spirit in Architecture: John Lautner

Film screening & discussion with film director Bette Cohen

Bette Cohen is an award-winning filmmaker and film editor. She produced and directed the film The Spirit in Architecture: John Lautner, portraying the life and work of the architect.


Saturday, Oct. 22, 2 p.m. / Visual Acoustics: The Modernism of Julius Shulman

Film screening

Narrated by Dustin Hoffman, Visual Acoustics celebrates the life and career of Julius Shulman, the world’s greatest architectural photographer, whose images brought modern architecture to the American mainstream.


Thursday, Nov, 3, 7 p.m., Marquette Regional History Center / Infinite Space: The Architecture of John Lautner

Film screening

Renown architectural filmmaker Murray Grigor explores Lautner’s dramatic spaces with choreographed camera moves, as Lautner himself provides the commentary, speaking with insight and wit in recordings culled from archival sources.


Information from: WLUC-TV,

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