Lautner was born in Marquette, Michigan. His first experience with building came when he helped his father and mother build a chalet-type retreat on a hillside overlooking a lake there.
He received a degree in English from Northern State Teachers College (now Northern Michigan University) and then became an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright for six years. In 1937 he supervised the construction of two Wright projects, and in 1939 he opened his own practice in Los Angeles.
His first project was a home for his own family, which earned him high praise from architectural critic Henry-Russell Hitchcock. Other well known projects include Silvertop, the Chemosphere, the Sheats/Goldstein residence and the Elrod residence. He also designed several commercial buildings.
Lautner's work has been the subject of numerous exhibitions in the United States and abroad. His buildings have been featured in countless publications, in a documentary film on his life and work, in James Bond and Diehard films, among others, and in commercials for television.
In 1970, he was made a Fellow of the American Institute of Architects for Excellence in Design. He also received the Gold Medal from the Los Angeles AIA chapter in 1993 for his lifetime achievement.
flickr.com - Michael Locke
|Elrod House interior|
|Schaffer House interior|
|Hotel Lautner - Desert Hot Springs, California|
Update - 11/27/2012: Reader John Bachman mentioned that Lautner designed Bob Hope's home too. I hadn't found a photo of it when I was doing my research, but when I searched a little more, I found this:
|Bob Hope home - Palm Springs, California|