he many structures
that Wright designed and built in the Los Angeles area attest to his masterful incorporation of indigenous traditions into a truly American architecture.
Buildings like the Ennis-Brown and Hollyhock homes exhibit Wright's uncanny ability to make essentially square blocks and straight lines into organic environments.
The truly remarkable fact about these two homes however is that they were conceived of more than 70 years ago, and yet their design continues to embody much of what we strive for in architecture.
|The Ennis-Brown House is nestled on a hillside overlooking Hollywood and the greater LA basin.This image depicts the South-facing wall constructed almost entirely of the square concrete blocks that have often drawn comparisons to the ruins of Mayan temples.The concrete blocks were originally designed to weather the elements on their own but a later resident decided to apply a thick layer of paint to the entire structure. This action prevented water from damaging the structural integrity of the house but the manner in which it has begun to peal is not exactly attractive (notice the lower-left corner).A restoration project is currently underway although sandblasting the entire exterior of the house is no small task.|
|Alas, where the exterior falters the interior shines. The home has remained in private hands since its construction and as a result the interior has been preserved very nicely. Intricately patterned stained glass adorns most of the windows, while the lighting fixtures and even the kitchen remain original. As you step through the very low front door into a cave-like entry hall, there really is a sense of being in an underground Mayan temple. (Wright was not exactly a tall man - a fact which is evident in many of the doorways and entry halls that he designed) Upon ascending the brief flight of stairs into the main house you leave all notions of clausterphobia safely behind. The main hallway opens into a vast expanse with twenty-five foot high wooden cielings discreetly lit from recesses in the walls - all in classic Wright style. The living room and dining room are perhaps the two most familiar areas of the Ennis-Brown House as they were prominently featured in Blade Runner - and deservedly so.|
|On a clear winter day you can stand in the Ennis-Brown living room and peer through stained glass at the Hollyhock House that sits atop Barnsdall Park in the middle of Hollywood. This was one of Wright's first California commissions in the early 1920s and is considered one of his finest despite its advanced state of decay. The structure is now maintained by the City of Los Angeles as the chainlink fencing and peeling paint will attest. Transcending the harmful effects of municipal management however are characteristics that are undoubtedly the touch of Frank Lloyd Wright.|
|The low entry hall immediately gives way to a spacious living room for which massive furniture items were specifically designed. One of the most exciting details of this room is the illumination. Lighting is concealed behind wood panels that circle the room where the walls meet the ceiling. This technique effectively gives the entire house a diffuse glow and permeating warmth. As with any Frank Lloyd Wright home, the way space is arranged is given special attention. Rooms seem to flow into each other by means of wide open hallways and elevation variation. It's too bad that the house ended up in public hands - a little private investment could probably go a long ways in restoring the Hollyhock complex to its original grandeur.|