The Garcia House

Living in the Rainbow

garcia house john lautner los angeles california
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Above: One of the great cliffhangers, the Garcia / Rainbow Houses. John Lautner, 1962. Photo: Marmol Radziner

Designer of both the ‘villain’s lair’ as well as more scaled down, intimate spaces, John Lautner is without question of one the masters of American Modernism. His homes are icons of the era and certainly one of the more unusual is the Garcia House located in the Hollywood Hills and completed in 1962.

Early sketch of the Garcia House, John Lautner, 1962.

Early sketch of the Garcia House, John Lautner, 1962.

A rough model of the Garcia House, John Lautner, 1962. Photo: jmtsumura/flickr

A rough model of the Garcia House, John Lautner, 1962. Photo: jmtsumura/flickr

Built on a steep hillside for jazz musician and composer Russell Garcia, with Garcia’s primary requirement being a study separate from the rest of home so as not to disturb his wife when he was entertaining friends. Working with this request Lautner’s solution was to divide the home into two areas under single curved roof. With the addition of colored window the home was nicknamed the ‘Rainbow House’ and is often referred to as such today.

In the 1970’s the Garcias moved out of the house and it was purchased by actor and director Vincent Gallo – a fan of Lautner’s works Gallo also owned several other Lautner-designed homes. Over the course of the course of the next two decades the home suffered some inconsiderate renovations and, due to the homes unique shape and location, maintenance proved challenging and the home fell into disrepair. After owning the Rainbow House for several years Gallo sold the home to Bill Damaschke, an executive from DreamWorks, and his partner John McIlwee, an entertainment business manager. The pair set about restoring the Garcia House and hired the architectural firm of Marmol-Radziner to do a full restoration of the house. A large task and as explained by Ron Radziner, “Our goal was never to do a slavish restoration but to create something that maintained the spirit of Lautner’s work and also made sense for the 21st century.” An exterior pool – originally planned and designed by Lautner for the Garcias – was added during the restoration. The home is now back to its former glory, a masterpiece of Modernism expressed in its own unique vocabulary.

garcia house john lautner los angeles california

Album cover featuring the home’s first owner, Russell Garcia (1916 – 2011)

garcia house john lautner los angeles california

Architect of the Garcia House, John Lautner (1911-1994)

One of the home’s owners, John McIlwee, on restoring and living in Lautner’s Garcia House.

Mel Gibson’s character destroying the Garcia House (model obviously) the 1989 movie Lethal Weapon 2.


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Susan Tilson Moore Watson
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Breathtaking, as always, especially at sunset.