As part of our gratifying preservation and restoration work at the Sheats-Goldstein residence (built in 1963 and designed by architect, John Lautner) we occasionally have the honor to give tours of the historically significant home to architecture and design students. The home is a prime example of organic modern architecture: designed from the existing site and for the individual family. When showing the house there is no need to spend lengthy amounts of time using academic language to embellish this architectural icon. As students are able to see it for themselves the architecture does the talking. The entrance sequence, with its intimate scale and natural flow, draws from Lautner’s apprenticeship under Frank Lloyd Wright. But as the low wood ceilings transition to the rising triangulated concrete coffered roof in the living room, the expansive view opens up with a soaring effect and the dynamic form thrusts the occupant's gaze out into the city beyond.
The owner, James “Jim” Goldstein, fell in love with this home when he first saw it and quickly purchased it in 1972. He understood the brilliance of Lautner’s intention and re-hired the architect to improve the home in a series of renovations that would eliminate all framed glass and bring the house to its full potential: pushing concrete and glass to the very essence of their material capabilities.
John Lautner passed away in 1994, but the owner continued to work on the property and home with former Lautner associate Duncan Nicholson. It was under Nicholson that the artist James Turrell's Skyspace "Above Horizon" was realized, as well as extensive landscape improvements and an entertainment complex ("Club James") adjacent to the home was begun. In early 2015 Duncan Nicholson passed away and Jim Goldstein hired former Nicholson project architects Kris Conner and James Perry, who had formed their own firm, Conner & Perry Architects to further the project. It was recently announced that Goldstein will be gifting the home to LACMA (Los Angeles County Museum of Art). The property is the first in what the museum hopes will become a premier collection of the renowned modern residential architecture for which Los Angeles has become famous.
One of the main goals of owner James Goldstein's gift to LACMA is that the home might inspire young architects to question the existing norms of what modern architecture is today and what it can be in the future. We recently took architecture students from Kent State through the home and, as always, we get to enjoy their reactions as they transition from one space to the next. It is our hope that many aspiring architects and enthusiasts for generations to come will have the opportunity to experience the epiphany that is the Goldstein Estate.