Hollyhock House

Construction year: 1921
Address: 4800 Hollywood Blvd | LOS ANGELES-CALIFORNIA | United States
Latitude/Longitude: 34.10034, -118.29427
Architect(s):

The Aline Barnsdall Hollyhock House is a building in the East Hollywood neighborhood of Los Angeles, California, originally designed by Frank Lloyd Wright as a residence for oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, built in 1919–1921. The Hollyhock House is now the centerpiece of the city’s Barnsdall Art Park.

As with many of Wright’s residences, it has an “introverted” exterior with small windows, and is not easy to decode from the outside. The house is arranged around a central courtyard with one side open to form a kind of theatrical stage, and a complex system of split levels, steps and roof terraces around that courtyard. The design features exterior walls that are tilted back at 85 degrees (which helps provide a “Mayan” appearance sometimes referred to as the Mayan Revival style), leaded art glass in the windows, a grand fireplace with a large abstract bas-relief, and a moat. Water is meant to flow from a pool in the courtyard through an underground tunnel to this inside moat, and out again to a fountain.

The front doors are stepped similarly to the entryway. The split doors rest on pins and swing open easily despite their massive weight. The keyhole is concealed with a decorative flap.

The hollyhock is used as a central theme to the house, with many symmetrical decorations adapting the plant’s general appearance. Planters are decorated with the motif and filled with the plants themselves, and Wright’s stained glass windows feature a highly stylized hollyhock pattern. An interesting feature is the glass corners, an early Wright idea later used at Fallingwater.

Hollyhock House features an entertainment room immediately to the right of the entrance. This room contains possibly the first built-in entertainment center, complete with LP-sized cabinets along the floor. Other notable rooms include a child’s play area as well as a modernist kitchen, which long housed the museum gift shop.

Like many houses designed by Wright, it proved to be better as an aesthetic work than as a livable dwelling. Water tended to flow over the central lawn and into the living room, and the flat roof terraces were conceived without an understanding of Los Angeles’ rains. The cantilevered concrete also has not stood up well to the area’s earthquakes.



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