Homes of the Future: Atomic Age Design Lives On

For some, architecture is a purely aesthetic experience. Others are drawn in by the story told by a home.

After World War II, a new wave of architects ditched the white picket fence and dared to dream about the future. Termed Atomic Age designers, these architects channeled concerns about nuclear war dominating Western society at the time. Meanwhile, with “The Jetsons” and “The Flinstones” hitting prime-time television, a Space Age of animated styles, futuristic patterns and flying-saucer imitations infiltrated every facet of pop culture.

Today, homes designed by Frank Lloyd Wright, John Lautner and Richard Neutra are held up as iconic designs — designs that defined a generation more interested in imagining what could be than relishing the past.

Celebrities have walked their halls and historians have built museum exhibits to commemorate their unique floorplans, but with several 1940s-60s homes currently on the market, Atomic Age design lives on as it was intended to be: a place to call home.

Dick Clark’s Home

Dick Clark's home
Described as an “imaginative architectural creation,” this house is straight out of Bedrock. Home to Dick Clark until 2007, the design is truly one of a kind. From the kitchen to the living room, the home maintains an animated feel with jagged-cut windows and purposely crooked kitchen cabinets.

While the design and oceanfront location at 10124 Pacific View Rd, Malibu, CA 90265 are undeniable selling points, the home received a $250,000 price cut last month. The asking price is now $3.25 million.

Bob Hope’s Estate

Bob Hope's Home
The 23,366-square-foot marvel above was designed by the legendary John Lautner in 1973. He built the home exclusively for Bob and Dolores Hope with the image of a volcano in mind. In addition to the trademark curved copper-and-concrete roof, the interior has 6 bedrooms and 12 baths. Outside, a pool, tennis court and outdoor fireplace are main attractions.

This is the largest private residence designed by Lautner, though not the first to hit the market. The architectural treasure was listed for $50 million in late February.

Neutra Modernist Triplex

Rajagopal Family Home
When architectural geniuses Richard Neutra and Paul Hoag put their heads together, this was the result. Owner Rosalind Rajagopal, a founding member of the Happy Valley School in Ojai, asked the pair to design an upper addition to the original Spanish-style home. The jigsaw puzzle-like masterpiece at 2122 N Gower St, Los Angeles, CA 90068 is now on the market for $1.2 million.

“It’s very ahead of its time for the early ’30s,” said real estate agent Patricia Ruben.

“It feels much bigger than it is, and no one was really doing that. That’s what modern is about, and the whole living room is a wall of windows,” added partnering agent Robert Kallick.

The Elrod House

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Lautner commissioned designer Arthur Elrod to build this flying saucer-inspired home in 1968. The 60-foot-wide circular living room has a conical dome that fans out in nine petals between nine clerestories.

Known as “The Elrod House,” the 8,901-square-foot structure has been featured in numerous books, magazines and museum exhibits.

Now listed as a foreclosure auction property, the home last sold in November 2003 for $5.5 million. The listing describes it as “literally one of the the most architecturally significant homes in all the world.”

Jules Gregory’s Home

Jules Gregory House
When architects are paid to design homes for a living, you might wonder what kind of house they create for themselves. Architect Jules Gregory designed his New Jersey abode on 10 wooded acres with a striking double-conoid roof.

“Like a bird in flight or a wave rising in the ocean, the undulating roof of this mid-century modern masterpiece seems to defy gravity,” agent Barbara Blackwell writes in the house listing.

With a $1.1 million price tag, the owner-to-be can look forward to walls of windows paying tribute to the natural landscape at 315 Goat Hill Rod, Lambertville, NJ 08530. A studio or guest house is also connected to the main 4-bedroom house by a stone footpath and bridge, adding pastoral touches to the modern design.

Gerald B. Tonkens House

Gerald B. Tonkens House
Described as one of the most important Frank Lloyd Wright designs, the Gerald B. Tonkens house is currently on the market for the first time ever for $1.788 million.

Without a doubt, the most stand-out feature is the home’s concrete exterior with more than 400 inset windows. While the aesthetic is notably different from other Atomic Age homes, Wright was aiming for something more practical. He called the home Usonian, a design theme with no attics, basements and little ornamentation. Wright hoped to produce a “national” style affordable for the average American after the war.

Using cost-effective materials, the home represents post-Depression simplicity in contrast to the Jetsons-style futurism seen in Lautner’s homes.

The 1955 property spans 4+ acres at 6980 Knoll Rd, Cincinnati, OH 45237. As an added bonus, the home comes with original Wright furniture designed specifically for the space.

Foster Carling House

Foster Carling House by John Lautner
Designed by Lautner, the “Foster Carling House” was reportedly one of his earliest and most significant works. The Los Angeles property has several innovative features including a pool that flows from the exterior into the living room, separated by a retractable glass wall. According to the home’s for-sale listing, controls move both the glass wall and the entire living room, swinging out the couch to face the downtown skyline.

Located at 7144 Hockey Trl, Los Angeles, CA 90068, the 1950 construction also shows off the work of yacht builder John de la Vaux, from the redwood plank walls and polished concrete floors to built-in furniture.

The modern mansion is currently on the market for $2.995 million.


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