Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner Facade
The Arango Marbrisa House Facade | © Julius Shulman

The design of John Lautner’s Arango Marbrisa House was commissioned in 1970 by Jeronimo Arango as a weekend home for his family. Lautner created a 25,000-square-foot house that blends seamlessly with the surrounding natural beauty of the ocean and sky. The project is perched above the water, appearing to float on its stunning location, and offers breathtaking views of the Pacific Ocean. Lautner’s design incorporates the site’s natural features into the structure, making it an awe-inspiring example of his innovative and functional approach to architecture. Completed in 1973, the Arango Marbrisa House remains one of the most iconic homes in the world, attracting architectural enthusiasts and design fans from all over.

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 1

Arango Marbrisa House Photographs

Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner Pool
© Julius Shulman
Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner exterior living room
© Julius Shulman
Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner views
© Julius Shulman
© Jan-Richard Kikkert

Arango House 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.

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.

The design was inspired by “the curving coastline and the feeling of infinite space.”

– Helena Arahuete

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

© Jan-Richard Kikkert | Swimming Pool
Arango Marbrisa House by John Lautner Interior jacuzzi
© Jan-Richard Kikkert | Living Room
Arango Mar Brisas House by John Lautner
Living Room
Arango Mar Brisas House by John Lautner
© Jan-Richard Kikkert | 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. This 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

About John Lautner 

John Edward Lautner was an American architect who left a lasting impact on the architectural landscape of the 20th century. Born on July 16, 1911, Lautner began his architectural journey as an apprentice with the legendary architect Frank Lloyd Wright in the mid-1930s. This experience would shape his career trajectory and influence the unique style he would later become known for. In 1938, he opened his own practice and worked as an independent architect until he died in 1994.

Lautner was a prolific architect with a career that spanned over five decades. Most of his works were residential, focusing on custom-designed homes for individual clients. He practiced primarily in California, where he showcased his creative talent and innovative design concepts. Lautner is widely recognized for his contribution to developing the Googie style, an architectural style characterized by its futuristic and organic forms. He also designed several iconic Atomic Age homes in the late 1950s and early 1960s, including the Leonard Malin House, the Paul Sheats House, and the Russ Garcia House.

Lautner’s impact on architecture has been immense, and his work inspires generations of architects, designers, and enthusiasts. His innovative and functional approach to architecture has left a legacy that will be remembered for generations.

Other works from John Lautner 

  1. Lautner A-Z. An Exploration Of The Complete Built Work by T Saariste JR Kikkert