Los Angeles is the cradle of exuberant modernism, from modest mid-century bungalows to dramatic Case Study-inspired houses and cliff-top palaces of glass and steel. In a fraught urban culture where real estate is at a premium and teardowns are often the only way to build something new, the city’s architectural heritage is under perpetual threat.

For those in search of individual style with history and meaning, the best surviving architect-designed properties are increasingly sought after. We’ve scoured the sites and rifled through the realtor listings to find six houses that are truly worth your time. 

The iconic Lovell House: 4616 Dundee Drive

Lovell Health House by Richard Neutra, photograph by Tim Street Porter
A classic Tim Street Porter photograph of the Lovell Health House by Richard Neutra, 1929 

Better known to the rest of the world as the Lovell House, 4616 Dundee Drive is Richard Neutra’s modernist masterpiece, one of the best-known pieces of pre-war American architecture. Dating from 1929 yet still light years ahead of the thousands of imitators it spawned, the house was commissioned by fitness fanatic and outdoor living exponent Philip Lovell. Extensive terraces gave Lovell all the fresh air he craved, while the Austrian-born Neutra used techniques better known from industrial architecture – most notably the use of a steel frame, factory-made windows and sprayed-on concrete – to maximise the interior light and space and purity of the form.

$9,975,000. More details from Crosby Doe Associates

White Sunset gem: 1375 North Wetherly Drive

The entrance at 1375 North Wetherly Drive

A perfect slice of mid-century modern, 1375 North Wetherly Drive is tucked into the hills at the northerly end of this winding canyon road leading off Sunset. The low-built house is all white walls, floor to ceiling glass and distant downtown views. Restored and updated throughout its life, the four-bed house covers 3,600 sq ft, surrounded by gated gardens and a pool.

$8,995,000. More details from John Galich

Twin mid-century bungalows: 1100 Paso Alto Road 

Above, the double-height living space in the A.Quincy Jones-designed house at 1100 Paso Alto Road. Below, the A.Quincy Jones house is one of two modern houses on the site at 1100 Paso Alto Road

Set atop the Linda Vista hills in Pasadena, this 3.3-acre lot houses not one but two architecturally significant homes on the same site, offering far-reaching views to both ocean and mountains. As well as a 1954 house by Thornton Ladd of Pasadena firm Ladd & Kelsey, there’s also an impressive custom home by A.Quincy Jones. The latter extends to 6,500 square feet, with angular glass roofs topping out soaring living spaces. Classic modernist elements include an indoor-outdoor koi pond and multiple courtyards and atriums in this finest of mid-century bungalows. 

$12,500,000. More details from The Agency

Refurbished Brentwood belle: 2767 Mandeville Canyon Road

The mid-century interior restored by Montalba Architects
A newly restored mid-century bungalow to the north of Brentwood
Above, the house’s mid-century interior was restored and extended by Montalba Architects. Below, the newly restored mid-century bungalow is located to the north of Brentwood

Another 50s ranch-style house, this Brentwood property underwent a complete refurbishment a decade ago courtesy of Montalba Architects. The firm stripped the structure back its original features - some, typical of mid-century bungalows - such as the exposed bricks and the beam ceiling in the living spaces. The space was also opened up throughout, with light materials and colours introduced to emphasise the quality of the spaces. 

Price on request. Available from Craig White, restored and extended by Montalba Architects

Show-stopping steel: 444 Sycamore Road 

Pierre Koenig’s Schwartz House, 1994
Pierre Koenig’s Schwartz House, 1994
Above, the angled structure of Pierre Koenig’s Schwartz House, 1994. Below, high-tech detailing throughout in Pierre Koenig’s Schwartz House, 1994. Photography: Cameron Carothers

Pierre Koenig’s Schwartz House was built in 1994, relatively late in the career of the architect responsible for one of the most dramatic and influential of all Los Angeles residences, Case Study House no.22, from 1964. Three decades later, and Koenig showed he still had it with this impressive Santa Monica structure. The Schwartz House consists of a square steel frame containing a two-storey glass and steel cube, turned 30 degrees for the best views to the beach. The external frame allows the modestly scaled interior to be largely open plan, with high-tech details throughout. 

$4,385,000. More details from The Value of Architecture

Captivating cantilever: 11490 Orum Road

Orum House by SPFA, photography by Matthew Momberger
Orum House by SPFA, photography by Matthew Momberger
Orum House by SPFA. Photography: Matthew Momberger

Orum was designed by SPF:architects, a firm set up by Zoltan Pali and Judit Fekete-Pali. An incredibly dramatic structure set in the heart of Bel Air, the house is formed of three cantilevered glazed wings that over-sail the site to create views of the entire Los Angeles basin. A substantial amount of accommodation is set into the hillside itself, with the principle living spaces and bedrooms set within the glazed heart of the 18,850 sq ft house. Including staff and guest accommodation there are a total of nine bedrooms. 

$49,000,000. More details from The Agency, design by SPF:architects

§