Location as Character: Like its Bill Gates-esque owner, the Chemosphere is full of retro but slightly dorky charm. Both work their magic on angel Dylan when she spends the night as Knox's personal bodyguard. When it's revealed that Knox is, in fact, the villain, the house's unique elevation makes for a dramatic near-exit for Dylan as she dangles precariously from one of its many aquarium-like windows.The building's spaceship-like appearance has made it a natural for movies and TV, including a spot in an episode of 'The Outer Limits,' and clearly influenced the look of the 'The Jetsons.' 'Simpsons' fans will also recognize it as the inspiration for washed-up actor Troy McClure's fish-centric pad. The 360-degree views were also a major plot point in Brian De Palma's kinky ode to voyeurism, 'Body Double.'
Historical Significance: The Chemosphere, called "the most modern home built in the world" by the Encyclopaedia Brittanica, was built by architect John Lautner in 1960. This unique expression of Modernism was Lauthern's innovative solution to a site that was thought to be unbuildable, due to a slope of 45 degrees. There are no stairs: the house is accessed by a nifty (and very small) railway. After the murder of its second owner in his home in 1976 (he was stabbed to death by two robbers, who'd later be apprehended and sentenced to life in prison), the house was not occupied for many years, but rented out for parties and film shoots. In 2000, Benedikt Taschen, of the German book publishing company of the same name, had the home restored, earning him an award from the Los Angeles Conservancy.
Directions: The house is located at 7776 Torreyson Drive, south of Mulholland Dr. Take the Mulholland Dr. exit from the 101/170 Freeway or Laurel Canyon Blvd to Mulholland Dr.
Visitor's Info: The house is on view 24/7, but since it is a private residence, don't expect any tours. Fortunately, the best shots of the house are from the street, so no need for (and we strongly advise against) trespassing. More photos and blueprint drawings are online at the John Lautner Foundation.
CATEGORIES On the Scene