Architecture

Kenneth Reiner, commissioned Silver Lake's Silvertop home

silvertop-birdseye.jpgKenneth Reiner made a fortune in the 1940s and '50s designing and manufacturing self-locking aircraft nuts and spring-loaded ladies' hair clips, the L.A. Times says in an obituary today. He also worked with architect John Lautner to design a modernist home on a ridge on Micheltorena Street in Silver Lake. Reiner never got to live in Silvertop, but the home has become a modernist landmark considered one of Lautner's masterpieces.

The house, called Silvertop for its graceful concrete dome, defied conventional wisdom and the city's antiquated building codes. Its dominant line is a curve, from the arc of the roof to the cantilevered driveway that winds around a circular guest house. A Norman Rockwell-era issue of the Saturday Evening Post described the residence as seemingly poised to "zoom off to Mars."

The interior was a Buck Rogers fantasy as well. There were faucet-less sinks that automatically filled with water; a dining table with a hydraulic pedestal that was lowered for cocktails and elevated for meals; a system for heating and cooling that could not be seen or heard; and controls for lights and appliances that were discreetly set into walls and doors jambs.

If Lautner needed a part that didn't exist, Reiner invented and built it in a special workshop at his factory.

Reiner died Sept. 12 in Long Beach after a long illness.


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