Glen Lukens House
Raphael Soriano designed this International Style home for noted ceramic artist Glen Lukens. Soriano was an influential modernist architect, and this residence is an important example of his early work. The Lukens House is one of about a dozen Soriano homes that still exist, and it's a rare example of modernism in the West Adams neighborhood.
By 1998 the house had deteriorated so badly that the City boarded it up. Drug dealers and vagrants used the house anyway, and it was so badly damaged and overgrown with brush that some thought it had been demolished.
The home was declared a nuisance property and slated for demolition in 2006.
The Los Angeles Conservancy Modern Committee and West Adams Heritage Association jointly authored a local landmark nomination in an effort to keep the house standing; the Lukens House was designated Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #866 in 2007. The architecturally significant house was later purchased by a preservation-minded buyer who sensitively rehabilitated the house while restoring and replacing historic elements. The original drawings were obtained from the Special Collections at Cal Poly Pomona, and the owner researched Soriano’s published works and toured two other Soriano residences from the same period. The project to restore the Lukens House earned a Conservancy Preservation Award in 2013.
The Lukens House was designed by Raphael Soriano, an influential architect who employed a novel approach to planning, design, construction, materials and indoor/outdoor space relationships. Constructed for noted ceramicist Glen Lukens on property that was formerly the rear portion of the Lycurgus Lindsay estate (HCM #496) in West Adams, the 1940 Lukens House is a significant example of International Style residential design.
The Lukens House’s openness to its large lot reflects the architect’s facility in adopting the International Style to the temperate climate of Los Angeles. The structure displays many of the style’s characteristic design elements, such as ribbon windows, a smooth stucco exterior, a flat roof, and a volumetric composition. Its placement on the gently sloping lot provides it with the indoor-outdoor flow that, in subsequent decades, came to characterize Southern California’s modern homes.
Glen Lukens, who taught nearby at the University of Southern California, had been awarded many times in his lifetime for his discovery in new glazes and glaze techniques. He also pioneered new approaches to the ceramic vessel. Lukens invited a young Frank Gehry, an art student of his at the time of the house’s construction, to meet Soriano. This meeting at the Lukens House is subsequently credited with focusing Gehry’s studies and career in architecture.
The Lukens House has been restored to fit the modern conveniences while restoring and replacing historic elements. The current owner is currently seeking to restore the second part of the house, which was the studio that Glen Lukens has used.