Frank Lloyd Wright's The Ennis House

Fiona Rose

Interestingly enough, I recently learnt that my favourite Frank Lloyd Wright house was also the architect's: when he completed The Ennis House in 1924, Wright declared the property to be the most favoured house he had designed. Sitting high on a hill in the Los Feliz neighbourhood of Los Angeles, this curious building was the last and largest of the four concrete-block houses that Wright built in the area. The house remains the finest example of Mayan Revival architecture in the United States.

A large property, 6000 square feet, on one acre of land, the house cost $300,000 to build in 1924 which would be around $3.8 million today. Wright's wealthy client was Charles Ennis, the owner of a men's clothing store in down town LA and an enthusiast of Mayan art and architecture. For each of Wright's Mayan houses built with concrete blocks he designed a custom pattern: for the Ennis House it was a Greek key. Concrete was considered a new building material for residential purposes in the 1920s and the property gave Wright the opportunity to use a lot of it: 30 - 40,000 16" square concrete blocks. If the Ennis House looks familiar it might be because it has appeared on the big screen several times: most famously it was the apartment of Harrison Ford's character Deckard in the film Blade Runner and the interiors have also appeared in Game of Thrones.

Unfortunately, the house has had structural problems throughout it's 90+ years and suffered severe damage in the 1994 earthquake and 2004 torrential rains. In 2007 the house underwent a $6 million restoration and was listed for sale at $15 million, eventually being sold to billionaire Ron Burkle for $4.5 million with the condition it be open to the public for 12 days a year. So why is the Ennis House my favourite Frank Lloyd Wright house? Quite simply because I think it would be an amazing space to live in (let's forget about any structural problems!). I imagine it would be like living in a Mayan temple: cool, calm and serene. And what an incredible view it has over the city perched unperturbed high above the city of angels.

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