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  7. AD Classics: Ennis House / Frank Lloyd Wright

AD Classics: Ennis House / Frank Lloyd Wright

AD Classics: Ennis House / Frank Lloyd Wright
AD Classics: Ennis House / Frank Lloyd Wright

AD Classics: Ennis House / Frank Lloyd Wright AD Classics: Ennis House / Frank Lloyd Wright AD Classics: Ennis House / Frank Lloyd Wright AD Classics: Ennis House / Frank Lloyd Wright +11

From the architect. While driving through the Los Angeles area, a look up into the hillside above Griffith Park and you’ll be feasting your eyes with beauty and intrigue of monumental proportion.

Near the top of Vermont Avenue sits the Ennis House done by Frank Lloyd Wright in 1924, which dominates its surroundings as a modular masonry structure composed of square concrete bricks. Its inspiration is rather obvious, as Wright’s love for Mayan art and architecture connects this residence to the culture’s highly ornamented, symmetric and organized structures.

© Ennis House Foundation
© Ennis House Foundation

The Ennis House was built fourth in a series of concrete block houses designed and completed by Frank Lloyd Wright for a client who shared his passion for the ancient Mayan culture. He fused successful methods of previous dwellings with an understanding of the necessity of considering the dwelling within its sunny Southern California environment.

west elevation
west elevation

It was originally built for Mabel and Charles Ennis in 1924, but changed ownership multiple times until it was purchased by Augustus O. Brown in 1968. The Ennis House is sometimes referred to as the Ennis-Brown House, as it was renamed after the house was donated to the Trust for Preservation of Cultural Heritage by Brown.

Why concrete blocks? “It was the cheapest (and ugliest) thing in the building world,” says Wright. “It lived mostly in the architectural gutter as an imitation of rock-faced stone. Why not see what could be done with that gutter rat?” Wright takes on the challenge of creating a warm and decorative material out of the standard cold industrial concrete, and achieves this through the carvings of a repeated geometric design.

As solid concrete walls, one would assume that the penetration of light inside is minimal. But upon closer investigation it becomes apparent that many of the pieces of textile blocks are punctured to create spaces through which light is revealed.

The house consists of two buildings, the main house and a smaller detached apartment/garage, which are separated by a vast paved courtyard that overlooks the greater Los Angeles area. Together, the two separate pieces work to conquer the landscape and houses built around the streets, as the whopping 10,000 square foot dwelling expands horizontally across the hilltop. The spine-like loggia runs along the northern side of the house to connect the public and private spaces to the south.

Many recognize the buildings unique design and massive quality from movies like “The Day of the Locust” of 1975 or probably more likely from “Blade Runner” of 1982. The list goes on, and also goes to show how beautiful and significant this structure really is.

Like some other architectural landmarks that explore above and beyond typical construction methods, the Ennis House was marked structurally instable even before it was completed. Many of the concrete blocks in lower sections of the walls began to crack and buckle under tension. 

Wright’s seemingly good idea to incorporate decomposed granite from the site into the concrete mix of the blocks was also a flop as it introduced natural impurities, and when combined with air pollution it led to premature decay. The house also underwent more damage due to natural causes, like in the 1994 Northridge Earthquake and the record high precipitation during the rainy season of 2004-2005.

The Ennis House Foundation has worked to obtain financial support to renovate and repair the damages done to this nationally acknowledged architectural landmark, although recently the house has been placed back in the real-estate market to be sold for around $12 million.

Voted one of the top ten residences in Los Angeles by the LA Times and an official city, state and national landmark, the Ennis House continues to intrigue architects, artists, tourists and potential buyers as its dominant structure and unique materiality call for further studying and appreciation.

This building is part of our Architecture City Guide: Los Angeles. Check all the other buildings on this guide right here.

Cite: Megan Sveiven. "AD Classics: Ennis House / Frank Lloyd Wright" 24 Oct 2010. ArchDaily. Accessed . <http://www.archdaily.com/83583/ad-classics-frank-lloyd-wright-ennis-house/>
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37 Comments

Enrique Arturo · February 13, 2012

AD Classics: Ennis House / Frank Lloyd Wright | ArchDaily http://t.co/WSLlpKaW via @archdaily

Pedro / Joe · November 16, 2010

Frank Lloyd Wright&#39s Ennis House in LA http://bit.ly/d3mQEY

Frédéric Deschamp · November 03, 2010

RT @urbain_: Revoir un classique: l&#39Ennis House de Frank Lloyd Wright, qui apparaît dans “Blade Runner” http://ow.ly/33cU1 #architecture

URBAIN trop URBAIN · November 03, 2010

Revoir un classique: l&#39Ennis House de Frank Lloyd Wright, qui apparaît dans “Blade Runner” http://ow.ly/33cU1 #architecture

pamela skaist levy · October 29, 2010

“@archfeeds: Via @ArchDaily - AD Classics: Frank Lloyd Wright / Ennis House http://dlvr.it/7TvrM #architecture”
Dying over this casa

abu3bu · October 29, 2010
Mark Johnson FAIA · October 28, 2010

No risk to FLW house. Many preservationists in LA! RT @juicyfounder @MarkJohnsonFAIA I want this house can it be saved? http://bit.ly/cEIYJr

pamela skaist levy · October 28, 2010

RT @ArchDaily: AD Classics: Frank Lloyd Wright / Ennis House http://archdai.ly/ciOkxg #architecture

pamela skaist levy · October 28, 2010

“@financialar: AD Classics: Frank Lloyd Wright / Ennis House http://bit.ly/bbCfn3
My next project after (cont) http://tl.gd/6mmtfu

Mark Johnson FAIA · October 27, 2010

Attended party here years ago. Incredible #home! RT @moldingdesign > Frank Lloyd Wright / Ennis House, http://bit.ly/cEIYJr #IntDesignerChat

Daniela Marmol · October 26, 2010

esta es la que sale en una de karate kid no?-> AD Classics: Ennis House / Frank Lloyd Wright | ArchDaily http://t.co/ixXtRRu via @archdaily

Suzanne · October 26, 2010

Very interesting article. I live in Los Angeles county and now have a place of interest to visit.

Justin Rasmussen · October 26, 2010

AD Classics: Ennis House / Frank Lloyd Wright | ArchDaily http://ow.ly/2Z0jm

James · October 25, 2010

An absolutely amazing work of art. My favourite building of FLW, I would buy it in a second had I the money.

Mark Gardner · October 25, 2010

AD Classics: Frank Lloyd Wright / Ennis House | ArchDaily http://t.co/T8JZox3 via @archdaily

Andy Marshall · October 25, 2010

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Architekt R V Scholz · October 25, 2010

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ilaria defilippo · October 25, 2010

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Dusan Dordevic · October 25, 2010

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Financial Articles · October 25, 2010

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Jeff Ruble · October 25, 2010

Funny, I mentioned this building last night: Frank Lloyd Wright / Ennis House | ArchDaily http://t.co/S5O1Lpy via @archdaily

Architecture+Molding · October 25, 2010

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Erik Joya · October 25, 2010

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GR2TF · October 25, 2010

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DEZIGN · October 25, 2010

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Bocetos Digitales · October 25, 2010

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Chief · October 25, 2010

information is wrong..
but great photos though!

Har · October 25, 2010

Architect: Louis Kahn ?

···

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