One hundred and fifty years after his birth, Frank Lloyd Wright’s Mayan gifts to LA live on.
From pibil tacos to spring break in Cancún, Los Angeles owes much of its current “culture” to Mexico. But lesser-known, pre-Columbian odes to our partner south of the border take surprising forms: some of LA’s most enduring homes, designed by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright, the godfather of 20th-century American architecture who celebrates his sesquicentennial this year. In LA, Wright was a pioneer of the Mayan Revival style— which took its inspiration from Mayan architecture, building design, and iconography—during the movement’s global Art Deco surge. Indeed, Wright’s most famous homes in LA—the Hollyhock House (1921), Ennis House (1924), and Millard House (1924)—are among the most oft-cited examples of Mayan Revival at its height, with Ennis House, inside and out, being one of the style’s masterworks.
Wright’s homes sparked a Revival thrall in the city in the ’20s, with the Mayan Theatre (now, perhaps too predictably, The Mayan nightclub) opening in 1927 and Wright’s own architect son Lloyd Wright taking a cue from dad and designing the Mayan-influenced John Sowden House, in Los Feliz, the year prior. While the Mayan craze also hit Denver, Detroit, Mexico, and even Japan (with many of the style’s prominent examples designed by Wright disciples), LA nurtured its “new” and novel elegance like no other place. Fostering the cutting-edge—then as now.
A National Historic Landmark, and perhaps the most famous piece of residential design in LA, Wright’s Hollyhock House (here and above) was the first of his Mayan Revival homes.