Tuesday, August 11, 2015

Future of Lautner-Inspired Modernist Home ‘CostcoSphere’ in Jeopardy

By Michale Hemmingway, Quilt staff


The innovative and eye-catching house located near the corner of Roscoe and Canoga Avenues, in the highly-desirable Rosconoga neighborhood, is in danger of being razed.
Castle In the Sky: Rising some 40 feet above the ground, the architecturally-significant home
'CostcoSphere' is the latest notable structure to be threatened by the wrecking ball.  Staff photo.
The trianglar-shaped house, nicknamed the CostcoSphere due to its proximity to the Canoga Park warehouse retailer ‘Costco’ and low test scores in LAUSD geometry classes, was built in 1986 and has been a fixture on local architectural tours ever since. But with Costco scheduled to close September 11th (and relocate to the new shopping center ‘The Village at Westfield Topanga,’) the iconic structure’s future is literally “up in the air,” as it shares a nearly 12-acre lot with the big-box store, which following recent trends in West Valley development is destined to be demolished to make room for — experts predict — 197 single-family homes, 356 condominiums, 486 apartments, 673 low-income housing units, or some combination thereof.

“The [CostcoSphere] is historically significant because of its obvious Lautner-inspired design,” writes Sara-Emily Taylor, of the blog Guttered LA.  “To see it destroyed would be a true architectural and cultural tragedy the likes of which we haven’t seen since that dark day in Santa Monica when they took down the big Arby’s hat.”
The CostcoSphere's spacious living room, as seen in a real estate
ad from the mid 90s. Courtesy Canoga Park Premiere Properties.
Designed by the firm Corporate Signage of Issaquah, Washington, and constructed by Chatsworth’s own Industrial Steel Fabrication & Installation, the elevated home is further recognized as a rare, later example of the Modernist style built more than two decades after most architectural experts consider that specific movement had reached its apex in the early 1960s.  

According to MLS records, the 2,300 sq. ft., 4-bedroom, 2.5 bath home was last sold for $459,000 in 2010, with advertisements from that time heralding its “wonderful flow-through,” “a center courtyard perfect for a really tall tree,” and “panoramic views of NAPA Auto Parts, the Salvation Army Thrift Store, and the growing contingent of day laborers loitering around Home Depot.” Its main selling points, however, were likely that it is “within easy walking distance to bulk-shopping and free-sample-eating” as well as being “conveniently located near Xposed All-Nude Gentlemen’s Club.”
The CostcoSphere's kitchen has never been updated and is most often breathlessly described
as "amazing" on 'time-capsule' real estate blogs each time the property has been on the market.
An emergency meeting of the Canoga Park Friendly Neighborhood Council aimed at staving off the historic home’s destruction was held last night and attended by members of the Los Angeles Preservancy, the North-of-Saticoy Institute of Architects, the LA Municipal Trust for the Ensavement of Buildings Built Some Time Ago; and web-loggers, or bloggers, from online internet websites LAish, All Up In Your Valley, LA Contemplated, and Blog of the Valley of San Fernando — many of whom were excited to visit Canoga Park for the first time. 

Those hoping to save the unique home delivered impassioned pleas during a meeting that dragged on well into the wee morning hours, until representatives of the owners reluctantly agreed to postpone the demolition of the house to allow would-be preservationeers time to file sufficient paperwork to tie up proposed plans in red tape, squash any impending deals for the property, scare off potential investors, and send the upcoming project into bureaucratic purgatory for the foreseeable future.
CostcoSphere's modernist living room was designed with enormous wall-length picture windows to take full
advantage of the magnificent views of the surrounding neighborhood. Photo: Canoga Park Premiere Properties.
“While we’re realistic about our slim chances of permanently saving it,” admits Taylor after the meeting and on her way to finally see the CostcoSphere in person after having learned of its existence last week, “it’s important for us to waste a lot of other people's time and money, because old things are neat.”


  1. No one saved Bob's Big Boy on Van Nuys Blvd or on Sherman Way in Canoga Park. DiCecco's Lumber in Canoga Park was the railroad station at one time I am told and no one stopped its destruction. Your concerned about a sign that ws probably erected by White Front?

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