Laguna Friends of Architecture invite you to tour the Horizon House

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Laguna Friends of Architecture invite you to tour the Horizon House

LFA’s most ‘talked about’ house tour

It’s a fascinating story of how one of the most unique ‘non-wood’ homes in the U.S. ended up in Laguna Niguel
It was the first home built in the planned city in the early 60’s
LFA’s favorite architectural historian and aficionado, Ted Wells, will be speaking about this most interesting architectural experiment

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This free self-guided Home Tour will include another chance for you to see the mushroom-shaped concrete shell “Horizon House”…please bring your friends and your favorite drinks and snacks to share!  

Ted Wells will begin his talk at 4:00.

Saturday October 29, 2014 from 3:00PM to 5:00PM at 31911 National Park, Laguna Niguel, near the Crown Valley Parkway.

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Did you know that the 7,000 acre Laguna Niguel was design by the ‘Father of the Mall’ architect Victor Gruen?

Have you wondered why up to recently there was no City Hall or downtown area – Find out why

Laguna Niguel and the malls he designed left a BITTER TASTE for the architect. They weren’t built the way he designed them and changed the US ‘for the worse’ he and others say

Back in the late 50’s an East Coast investment firm Cabot, Cabot and Forbes gathered 6,000 investors and started the Laguna Niguel Corporation. There were literally no houses at that time.

They hired the famous ‘Father of the Mall’ architect Victor Gruen to design the 7,000 acre planned community, the first in California.

Now Victor is a major shaper of the US culture. (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victor_Gruen). Because he invented the modern mall,Malcolm Gladwell, writing in The New Yorker, suggested that “Victor Gruen may well have been the most influential architect of the twentieth century.”

When he designed the first enclosed malls (of which he did 50 but also set the trend) he designed them so they were a newly integrated town with residential, schools, medical facilities and community gathering places like parks to be part of the surrounding area around the mall. Well, the developers stripped his integration ideas and just build the shopping part leaving to suburban sprawl and the death of the urban areas we have today.

In a speech in London in 1978, Gruen disavowed shopping mall developments as having “bastardized” his ideas: He said “I refuse to pay alimony for those bastard developments” meaning he would never shop at one.

Well the same thing kind of happened in Laguna Niguel where the planned city he designed was to be centered where the new city hall is built at Alica and Crown but it never was and it ended up being a town without any real integration and a sprawling bedroom community.

The Laguna Niguel ‘Horizon’ house – Part of a National Experiment to build houses without wood

The first home built in the master plan was the ‘Horizon’ house in 1963. The Horizon house concept was a nationwide effort by companies like Portland Cement to show how a house can be inexpensively built with concrete. Plus no fires and no maintenance for wood rot and earthquake proof. http://www.latimes.com/home/hometours/la-hm-horizon-homes-20160116-story.html

There are 150 Horizon houses across the country and 11 in Southern California with each being completely different and each built by a local architect and local suppliers.

They truly were/are the house of the future. Amazing what you could do with concrete – remember the Halliburton house.

They hired local architect George Bissell,(http://obits.ocregister.com/obituaries/orangecounty/obituary.aspx?n=george-arthur-bissell&pid=138334050), a future recipient of the American Institute of Architects California Council Lifetime Achievement award in 2000 (the highest award you can get) as the architect along with Hanns Baumann a world class engineer (http://www.hannsbaumann.com/abouthub.htm). Hanns is in the following videos and he tells how they made such an unusual mushroom shaped house.

But George, who typically did large churches, museums, LA Coliseum type of work didn’t stop at the Horizon house but went on to design midcentury modern houses on the same street, National Park, as the Horizon house.  Drive around and check them out.

So the first neighborhood in Laguna Niguel was modern houses which are far a few to find to this day in the town.

Video of previous LFA tour at Horizon House

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