A Tour of Iconic Houses in Los Angeles

A+A first became aware of the ICONIC HOUSES network when Michael McCarthy, who with his wife, Marsha Myers, restored Richard Meier’s Douglas House on Lake Michigan, called our attention to it. Now Natascha Drabbe, founder of the network, is calling our attention to the 4th International Iconic Houses Conference at the Getty Center, Feb. 17-19 in Los Angeles. We recently interviewed her via email:

What’s the intent of the conference?

Hosted by The Getty Conservation Institute and Getty Foundation at Richard Meier’s Getty Center, the event will feature more tours, more speakers, and more networking activities than in past conferences, all focusing on Modern residential architecture’s importance, its preservation, and its future. The intent is to have productive conversations with architects and other patrons of significant houses and learn about different perspectives on the stewardship of historically significant houses. Meeting colleagues old and new to share, learn and recharge. One never knows where inspiration will arise, but the energy that surrounds a gathering of like minds can be very stimulating.

Background on the organization?

ICONIC HOUSES is the international network connecting architecturally significant houses from the 20th century that are open to the public as house museum. The platform also focuses on conservation, management, policy and cooperation. The Iconic Houses network was launched in November 2012 with the website www.iconichouses.org, showcasing around a hundred and fifty 20th-century architects’ house museums world-wide.

Highlights of the conference?

Joining us as Guest of Honor is legendary architect, inventor and environmentalist Harry Gesner (1925), who designed the Cahuenga Pass Boat Houses in LA (1959) and some of Malibu’s most awe-inspiring architecture. His distinctive designs include the Cooper Wave House (1957), Raven’s Eye (1993) and, of course, the architect’s own abode, the Sand Castle (1960) found tucked along the Pacific Coast Highway. We are also thrilled to be holding our closing cocktail party at the legendary Goldstein Residence, designed by John Lautner in 1963, in Club James, the house’s newest addition, with spectacular views of the City of Angels.


The speakers represent key stakeholders – curators, owners, restoration architects and residents of iconic houses – and capture the spectrum of perspectives and opinions. Noted architectural historian Wim de Wit will share, as keynote speaker, his insights into the origin of the Modern house in Southern California. The second keynote speaker, architect Toshiko Mori, will share her experience of working on three Modernist classics designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, Marcel Breuer and Paul Rudolph. Additionally, Malachi Connolly, president of the Cape Cod Modern House Trust, will present three Cape Cod museum houses that are rented out as holiday homes as an interesting business model, to give an insight in recent developments on the East Coast of the US. Franklin D. Vagnone, co-author of the Anarchist’s Guide to Historic House Museums, will share his highly original perspectives on preventing house museums from dwindling into dull mausoleums and presents his ideas on how to make them fresher, more exciting, and better connected to the local community.

What were the criteria for the homes selected for the tour?

Since LA is the spiritual home of the modern house, there will naturally be some extraordinary and inspirational houses to visit (some of them not normally open to the public), both during the optional pre- and post-conference tours and as part of the regular program. The story of the Mid-Century Modern movement will be told in one day with tours of the Gamble, Hollyhock, Schindler and Neutra houses, and there will be opportunities to see landmark homes like the Eames House, the Sheats-Goldstein Residence and several more.

For more information, go here.

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