“I think this house is just magnificent, and it’s really generous of Luke to allow us into his house so we can all judge his taste,” joked Jenji Kohan as she pushed her way through the Thursday-night crowd of 300-plus at Beats Electronics president Luke Wood’s newly renovated Silvertop home, which played host to the Los Angeles Conservancy’s annual benefit.
At events like these, Hollywood A-listers typically suck most of the attention out of whatever room you are standing in, and there was no shortage of those here. But there was only one object of everyone’s attention — and desire — at this party, and that was the John Lautner-designed home, newly restored by the architect Barbara Bestor after Wood purchased it in 2014 for $8.55 million. The 7,500-square-foot home, originally built in 1956 for newly minted millionaire inventor Kenneth Reiner, overlooks the Silver Lake Reservoir and is considered a crown jewel of Los Angeles' rich patchwork of midcentury-modern homes.
“First of all, I have never seen anything like this,” said director R.J. Cutler as he stood on the east-facing patio, joining an awestruck crowd as they watched the full moon emerge over the San Gabriel Mountains. Minutes earlier, the same crowd openly cooed on the west-facing patio (Reiner famously asked Lautner to orient the house so that, with a mere swivel of his head, he could see Mount Baldy, the ocean, downtown L.A. and Silver Lake, all from his living room) as they watched the sun set into the Pacific. Bars were conveniently outfitted on both patios.
“It’s a piece of L.A. history, incredibly restored by one of L.A.’s finest architects, Barbara Bestor, with Luke and Sophia’s vision,” said Cutler. "It’s dazzling, it’s breathtaking, and it is what makes Los Angeles Los Angeles."
Reiner was an inventor and industrialist who made a fortune in the 1940s and 1950s after designing and manufacturing two products: self-locking aircraft nuts and spring-loaded ladies' hair clips (he died in 2011). The Silvertop name came from the house's concrete dome, set off by its oysterlike curves and clean sweeping lines. Reiner, who originally set out a budget of just $75,000, ultimately ended up spending over a million to have the home built. He used its construction as a laboratory to test out new gadgets that he hoped he could later bring to the marketplace, making it arguably one of the world’s first “smart” houses decades before the term would join the popular vernacular. Depending upon the room, vintage-looking power panels control a range of actions, from the mundane — lighting and sound systems — to the more space-age, like opening the glass wall in the dining room or closing cypress panels to cover windows in the guest bedroom.
For much of the evening, a three-piece jazz band played in the 3,000-square-foot living area with dueling views, one of which is accented by glass panels suspended by clips from the arched concrete ceiling. On the eastern edge of the property are a music room and an infinity pool.
According to L.A. Conservancy president Linda Dishman, this was the first big event held at Lautner’s Silvertop since the restoration was completed last year. Diane Keaton was present for the dinner, as were Blink-182’s Mark Hoppus, designer Trina Turk, CAA’s David Kopple, Juicy Couture co-founder Pamela Skaist-Levy, Red Hot Chili Peppers drummer Chad Smith and music attorney Eric Greenspan. “It is so great to see so many people that care about our historic architecture in Los Angeles,” said Dishman. “[Silvertop] is in the top. There is a small group of houses that define L.A., and this house is one of them.”
Guests crowded into the master suite and its adjoining walk-in closet and bathroom, where they took turns standing in the exposed outdoor shower (with a retractable glass ceiling). They then meandered downstairs to the guesthouse nestled into the hillside.
Greenspan, whose wife, Maxine, co-chaired the event, said Bestor's work and Wood's investment should serve as a model for history-loving homebuyers. “It is so important that people cherish and restore homes like this,” he said. “Anyone can buy a McMansion.”