50 grand designs: the ennis-brown house
August 28, 2010, 9:23 am
Filed under: 50 grand designs

the ennis-brown house (built 1924), architect: frank lloyd wright. born: richland center, wisconsin (1867 – 1959)

poor, poor frank lloyd wright, particularly when it comes to his houses built in los angeles. he was in l.a. intermittently while overseeing construction of the imperial hotel in tokyo. in l.a. he created a new sort of home built of concrete blocks. the ennis-brown house is probably the most impressive, but also the home in biggest trouble. l.a. has never been a city to consider its past. the future, the next movie, the next deal is what this zippy city is all about.

the ennis-brown house is crumbling. it is not entirely due to wright’s sometimes inventive construction techniques. the house here uses cinder block construction. not a bad idea, but when the blocks age, or are ravaged by earthquakes, they crack, and expose the iron rebar which rusts and … the rest is not a pretty sight and expensive to repair. in usual housing markets and especially in l.a. where people can afford these things, this house had managed to stay intact. that is until now. it was on the block, so to speak, for 15 million, today’s paper reports it’s down to 7, and still no takers.

the new ruling class wants open designs, loft like spaces, not the low cozy, embellished work of the once maestro of american architecture. who knows what will happen?

the last time we lazied by the place that looms over the city in the hollywood hills above vermont boulevard it was in sorry shape. another of his l.a. cinder block houses in somewhat better shape has interested buyers. they are japanese, and if they buy, they might cart it back block by friggin’ block to tokyo. by the way, wright’s imperial hotel in tokyo, survived a devastating earthquake there, only to be torn down later.

you can see the ennis-brown house in various movies, most notably “blade runner”. its interiors are used as harrison ford’s apartment.


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