Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner Facade

The design of John Lautner’s Arango House, also called Marbrisa House, is inspired by the natural features of the site: the ocean and the sky.  The house was commissioned in 1970 by Jeronimo Arango as a weekend home for his family and in 1973 the architect built a 25,000-square-foot home that seemed to float above the water. The client had seen Elrod House in publications and wanted a similar house. He wanted the property to look out over the bay of Acapulco. The Arango residence included an expansive open-air terrace with bedrooms on the level below.

Arango Marbrisa House Technical Information

When I first visited the site, I got the idea to build a large, open terrace so that all you had was the beauty of the Acapulco Bay and the sky and the mountains. You don’t feel you’re in a building at all. You’re out in space. With the beauty of nature.

– John Lautner

Arango Marbrisa House Photographs

Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner Pool Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner exterior living room Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner views

Arango House’s is arguably the pinnacle of Lautner’s career, the vast (25,000 sq ft) “Marbrisa” in Acapulco was built for Mexican supermarket magnate Jeronimo Arango in 1973 and was jointly designed by Lautner and Helena Arahuete during her first year with the firm.

Perched on a hilltop site, with uninterrupted views across the whole of Acapulco Bay, the main living quarters are surmounted by a large open terrace with spectacular views of the beach and bay, encircled by a “sky moat” which snakes around its edge; the terrace is itself topped by a huge, sweeping semi-circular angled awning made of cast, reinforced concrete.

Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner Interior jacuzzi Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner living room

The design was inspired by “the curving coastline and the feeling of infinite space,” recalls Helena Arahuete, who worked with Lautner for 23 years and was the project architect for the Marbrisa House, as it’s known today.

Over 40 years later, the concrete house is still lived in, and continues to astound with its biomorphic, curvy designs, which feel like they were meant for an era that we haven’t arrived at quite yet. Which is all the more extraordinary given that Lautner’s team built this entirely by hand — photographs of the house under construction show a complex network of wood scaffolding, with men working and not one crane in sight.


House Floor Plan
Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner Floor Plan

Credit: John Lautner Architects

Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner Section Plan

Credit: John Lautner Architects

Arango Marbrisa House Image Gallery
About John Lautner 

John Edward Lautner (16 July 1911 – 24 October 1994) was an American architect. Following an apprenticeship in the mid-1930s with Frank Lloyd Wright, Lautner opened his own practice in 1938, where he worked for the remainder of his career. Lautner practiced primarily in California, and the majority of his works were residential. Lautner is perhaps best remembered for his contribution to the development of the Googie style, as well as for several Atomic Age houses he designed in the late 1950s and early 1960s, which include the Leonard Malin House, Paul Sheats House, and Russ Garcia House.

Other works from John Lautner