Malin Residence (Chemosphere)
Photo by Nick Neyland on Flickr

Malin Residence (Chemosphere)

If you had to choose one building to represent the most Modern of iconic Modern designs, you might well choose the Malin House (Chemosphere) in the Hollywood Hills. An octagon perched atop a twenty-nine-foot high, five-foot-wide concrete column like a flying saucer on a stick, the Chemosphere is recognizable even to those who know nothing else about mid-century architecture.

It was designed by groundbreaking architect John Lautner for Leonard Malin, a young aerospace engineer with a steeply sloping lot and $30,000 to spend on a house that would somehow perch upon it. Thanks to Lautner's ingenious design and sponsorships by companies like Chem Seal (who provided experimental coatings and was rewarded by the building's name), Malin got his wish. Malin and his wife raised four children in the house.

The one-story building is reached by a funicular and a concrete patio connects one side of it to the steep, lushly vegetated hillside. The bulk of the building hovers in an unlikely fashion above the hill, with windows on all sides to provide an astounding view of the San Fernando Valley. If you're looking for the Chemosphere, don't be disappointed if you can't spot it from its street address; pull over and look behind you and up!

Indiana Avenue Houses/Arnoldi Triplex
Photo by Larry Underhill

Indiana Avenue Houses/Arnoldi Triplex

The Deconstructivist triplex design features separate, loft-like, two-story units which the architects dubbed "the three little pigs," one in stucco, one in plywood, and one covered head to toe in green asphalt roof shingles.
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Valley Plaza Tower

A distinctive Valley landmark that was among the first skyscrapers built in L.A. after the 1957 repeal of a 150-foot height limit, this Corporate International style building dominated the North Hollywood landscape for years.
Lakewood Center
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Lakewood Center

Upon its official opening in 1952, Lakewood Center became a well-known shopping destination touted for its ultramodern style and easy automobile access.