Malin Residence (Chemosphere) | Los Angeles Conservancy
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!

Photo by Annie Laskey

Sessions House

This remarkable home was designed by architect Joseph Cather Newsom. Built in 1889, it features complex textures and shapes, as well as a pair of carved bearded dogs guarding the front steps.
Kresge Chapel, Claremont School of Theology
Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Kresge Chapel, Claremont School of Theology

In 1957, the Claremont School established a lovely New Formalist campus, its master plan designed by Edward Durell Stone, who also designed the best-known building on campus: Kresge Chapel.
Photo by Adrian Scott Fine/L.A. Conservancy

Capitol Records Tower

The world's first circular office building and one of L.A.'s most iconic buildings, an important illustration of the evolving work of Welton Becket and Associates during the 1950s.