|Iron Man's John Lautner-inspired house at Point Dume meets its doom|
With Iron Man 3 hauling in $174 million at the box office last weekend, this is a good time to pay tribute to a great architect whose hold on the American imagination is finally getting the respect it deserves: John Lautner.
No matter where they’re filmed or when they’re set, the Iron Man movies take place, at least aesthetically and psychologically, in the shiny, optimistic, future-infatuated Southern California that peaked in the early 1960s.
Billionaire Tony Stark’s Iron Mansion in Malibu is a fictitious CGI homage to the sometimes hilarious—but often surprisingly lovely—science-fiction houses and coffee shops, gas stations, and motels that Lautner erected all over the Los Angeles area from the 1930s into the 1980s.
... Lautner, a protégé of Frank Lloyd Wright, was the finest exponent of the boyish fantasy school of design—Tom Swift books turned into cantilevered Googie drive-in restaurants—that is the indigenous style of the Southern California car-centered culture in which I grew up. Lautner’s school of commercial architecture required an unprecedentedly broad and affluent middle class, one perhaps never seen in world history before Los Angeles in the 1940s.