Dissertation/Thesis Abstract

Building from Within: The Architecture of John Lautner
by Safari, Ida, M.A., California State University, Long Beach, 2019, 96; 13814561
Abstract (Summary)

John Lautner is one of the most significant and innovative American architects of the post-war period. Nevertheless, aspects of his work have been largely misunderstood and he has only recently begun to receive the attention that he deserves. While many of his contemporaries aimed for a quasi-universal aesthetic through the use of minimal steel-and-glass structures, Lautner embraced formal variety through site-specificity and a keen sensitivity towards nature as inspiration. An apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright, Lautner also adopted his mentor’s resistance to rationalist universalism. However, whereas Wright often approached site as a set of preexisting givens, to which each structure more or less conforms, Lautner approached site as the source for novelty and innovation, with each structure emerging as if organically from the earth.

This thesis explores the development of Lautner’s idiosyncratic approach to architecture. At the crux of the architect’s practice, I will demonstrate, is a conception of nature as process, according to which the growth of organic forms becomes an operative analogy for the architect’s own response to the conditions of each site. Growth, therefore, will be the key term for understanding Lautner’s reliance on nature for guidance and the specificity of his architectural practice across a sequence of exemplary projects. The notion of growth allowed Lautner to perceive sites not as a set of givens, as did Wright, but as an opportunity for the development of new and novel forms that are inextricably connected to the landscape and ultimately exceed or “out-grow” the givens of a site altogether.

Indexing (document details)
Advisor: Simms, Matthew
Commitee: Proctor-Tiffany, Mariah, Holliday, Peter
School: California State University, Long Beach
Department: Art, School of
School Location: United States -- California
Source: MAI 81/1(E), Masters Abstracts International
Subjects: Art history, Architecture, American history
Keywords: Architectural history, Architecture, Art history, Lautner, John , Organic architecture, Organic modernism
Publication Number: 13814561
ISBN: 9781085569422
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