Thursday, September 17, 2009

Dang, What A Cool House: The Laner Eichler

Brad Laner will tell you that he's not a rock star. Don't believe him. He is.

And if you ask Nydia Laner what she does, she'll just say, "Oh, I'm in sales." Uh huh. I won't blow her cover, but trust me, she's not about to hand you an Avon catalog.

The Laners may be modest about their career achievements, but they don't mind letting their fabulous Eichler house be a star. It's been featured in a number of location shoots, but most recently played the role of itself for the Los Angeles Times Home Section.

The Laners, along with their kindergartner son Julian, are only the second occupants of the house; its original owner was a WWII vet who rejected a higher offer from an Asian couple because of their race, preferring instead to sell the house to the Jewish/Puerto Rican Laner family.

"He was a selective racist," Brad explains.

A self-described "architecture nerd," Brad is a supporter of the plan to make the Balboa Highlands Eichler tract into a Historical Preservation Overlay Zone, a city designation that makes it extremely difficult to alter the facade of a house, as some Eichler owners already done to depressing effect. I mention a nearby house with faux Greek McMansion-style columns strapped to the front. "Oh, the Taj Mahal," Brad says. "You have to admire that one with the columns because it's just so grandly fucked up. But the saddest ones are those that are completely sprayed with stucco and just have some fluorescent lighting tubes on the outside."

It's not just his own neighborhood that Brad loves, but our whole town. "I believe in Granada Hills," he says, praising its "different, non-L.A. attitude."

"It's a friendlier, less poseur attitude around here, than even Northridge or Van Nuys. People here are humble because they know it's a forsaken corner of the Valley. But I point to the Eichlers -- what other part of the Valley has this type of architecture that they can be proud of? -- not to mention some of the only surviving Neutra stuff."

Brad has long dismissed the L.A. hipster tendency to pooh-pooh the city's northern reaches. "Los Angeles has that large city anti-provincial attitude, looking down on the suburbs the way New Yorkers look down on New Jersey. But in reality, the Valley is a huge part of Los Angeles and is not a separate thing. It developed concurrently, and so many great things that people associate with Los Angeles are of this area. I see it as one and the same."

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