To me, Lautner was the Santiago Calatrava of today. He used amazing skeletal structures to encompass space. Like Rudolph Schindler, he understood that at the most basic level, his architecture was about the people who actually lived in his creations. He did the opposite of what so many architects do today - he designed from the inside out. In fact, this was the most prevalent experience I had on the tour. I was keenly aware that the architecture was responding to me. Lautner was able, on many levels, to make me experience my surroundings in a heightened way. I respect this about him. I am a lover of nature, and I can tell he was too. Nature plays such an important role in his architecture that often the lines between inside and outside are blurred if not nonexistent.
The homes we visited were designed for people to live in them, unlike today where the majority of homes are designed for just anybody. By that, I mean that they were designed to fit the owners like a glove - they were not designed in a vacuum for just anybody. Today, we just move in, paint the walls and change some pieces of furniture. Our homes tell us how to live, which is a mostly introverted life. Differently, Lautner's homes were always linked to the outside, and more importantly, part of it in a fundamental way. They borrowed nature and made it part of the spaces, bringing it in. The spaces reflected the needs of the family that it was designed for. It was a more pleasant experience because the building wasn't just a dumb box. It helped them live better.
Rather that write about each home independently, there was one overarching concept I found unavoidable in all four, and I thought it would best to just focus on that for now.
Lautner was able to link spaces on three different levels. One of the reoccurring concepts I experienced was that there was often a roof form or volumetric idea that spanned several spaces typically lined up end to end. Schindler was a master at interlocking adjacent spaces and volumes with complicated geometry. Lautner's work is a bit different - usually linking several spaces within a common, sweeping form or volume.
Usually the spaces of the homes were separated by partitions that didn't go up to the roof, but had glass so that noise wouldn't travel between them, while still maintaining a visual connection. There were several small and large spaces within a much larger space. This made the homes feel much larger then they were; more open and airy. They felt spacious, even though they were of a manageable size.