Platform Houses | Los Angeles Conservancy
Photo by Hernan Hernandez

Platform Houses

Oakfield Drive in Sherman Oaks contains seventeen unusual Mid-Century Modern homes known as the Platform Houses, for obvious reasons: they are built on massive platforms that cantilever out over the edge of a steep slope, looking down onto the valley below.

These houses were originally designed by seminal architect Richard Neutra for the Stone-Fisher development company, and they are sometimes known as the Stone-Fisher Speculative Houses. After disagreements between Neutra and the developer, he withdrew from the project and architect William S. Beckett finished the buildings’ designs and oversaw their construction.

Completed between 1962 and 1966, these houses look like typical Mid-Century Modern buildings from the street side, with overhanging flat roofs, stucco and wood cladding, and simple window openings. But the view from the side or across Beverly Glen Canyon reveals the majority of each building seems to float in the air, supported by tall, narrow metal posts that seem far too insubstantial to do the work they are so easily doing.

The designs do not seem to be identical (or else some houses have experienced more alterations than others), but they all share basic similarities: a one-story height, simple rectangular plan, horizontal emphasis, and large expanses of windows. The buildings all feature a long balcony stretching the full width of the rear façade, all the better to provide views for the brave and nightmares for those with a fear of heights.

Photo courtesy Architectural Resources Group

Spanner Residence

Completed in 1968, this two-story Rex Lotery-designed house is more explicitly vertical than many Modern designs, adapting to a comparatively small lot on a sloping hillside with an irregular plan and multiple levels.
Photo by J. Eric Lynxwiler

St. Basil Catholic Church

St. Basil Catholic Church rises from the corner of Wilshire Boulevard and Kingsley Drive like an ancient fortress, girded with towers and bristling with jagged, three-dimensional windows of stained glass and iron.