The Lovell House

Yes, I visited it. It was great. Once again, this design is from 1927 and looks contemporary in 2020. I love it.

The Lovell House is very interesting in that it’s one if not the very first steel frame house in the whole country and one of the first with sprayed concrete. The frame was prefab and assembled on site in under 40 hours. That is absolutely amazing and even more if you consider that it was built in the middle age, in the early 1930s when everyone wanted Spanish and Italian-looking houses and mansions. Bold AF.

So,

– Revolutionary design and engineering

– Brand new aesthetic

– Built with health in mind: abundant windows for sunbathing, kitchen optimized for raw food diet, a pool for soaking and a yard with fruit and trees

This is totally my shit. I needed a chance to go and I got it last year.

Fine, my photos that day weren’t great. Just imagine that this is very quiet with birds sounds and great acoustics, thanks to the thick white carpet. It’s airy. You go down the stairs and arrive in this giant, soft living room. It feels just right. The breeze is cool and sweet with all those windows and trees outside. The chair on the right is original furniture from 1927 and it’s PRISTINE. I can’t believe how impeccable it was despite having kids and an entire family living in this house for 60 years.

It’s a simple house. There’s not much going on. The usual modern built-in stuff. The bedrooms all have outdoor patios to use as “sleeping porch”. There are quite a few outdoor-yet-private spaces and you know, it’s useful in the middle of summer in a heat wave while being horny. That house has probably seen some filth, is all I’m saying.

Those volumes fit perfectly in this little canyon and are fun. Anyway, it was amazing to tour this house but it was equally fantastic to meet the people who lived in here for the past sixty years. Betty Lou Topper raised five kids in this house and I met her and one of her son, Ken. Betty, 92, was in her wheelchair and insisted in saying hi to every single visitor.

I hold her hand and said “Hi, my name is Harold and I’m a designer. Thank you so much for having me here”. She replied with a wonderful smile, a little hi and a palpable excitement because well, I’m not too fugly. Ken was incredibly sweet and provided us stories of what was going on around when he was growing up there. How Neutra –the architect was a bit obsessed with the house and would swing by whenever he wanted, to move some furniture or suggest how to use a space. How in the 80s people would  throw parties in Griffith Park and wake them up or how 90s gangs would shoot at each other on the hill and how some bullets actually hit the house and the garage. How they shot the scenes for L.A. Confidential etc.

 

Just fascinating to imagine what it feels like to grow up in an iconic house that people from all over the world come to see while for you, it’s just the house. Housing is some boring shit yet, it is everything and beyond.

Betty passed away a week later.

I’m just glad I got to meet her, that she left us knowing that her house will be preserved, loved and taken care of and that there was this young-ish black man who looked like a kid in a candy store, perusing everything.

Thank you, Betty and Ken.

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