With its fluid curves bending out above the street and a mature tree jutting upward from the central courtyard the Sheats Apartments building (also known as L’Horizon or, more informally, The Treehouse) stands out from the UCLA student housing that makes up its immediate Westwood surroundings.
Completed in 1949, the building was designed by master architect John Lautner for owners Helen Taylor Sheats, an artist who had input into the design, and Paul Henry Sheats.
It was intended from the beginning to be occupied by students, and it has been for the bulk of its lifespan. The Mid-Century Modern-style building contains eight units, each completely separated from the others and possessed of its own terrace, deck, and outdoor garden space.
The front façade is dominated by a massive stucco canopy separating parking from the units above, with a central stairway leading up and into the hillside complex through a narrow slot and into the landscaped central courtyard. Asymmetrically arranged shapes, from circular volumes to long, flat planes, step up the hill and around each other to form a strangely harmonious, abstractly futuristic, and truly organic-feeling whole. The building seems to undulate around the courtyard, with cantilevered roofs offering shade and complicating the whole design in a wonderful way.
The Sheats Apartments are an outstanding example of Lautner’s mastery of organic form and function—envy the lucky students who get to call it home!