When the home was finally completed, critics were not kind to Wright, and the Millard house was met with laughter from Beaux Arts-trained architects who mocked Wright for using such a common building material with such expensive homes. Even The New York Times later ridiculed the architect for his concrete construction, writing: “It didn’t help that he was obsessed at the time with an untested and (supposedly) low-cost method of concrete-block construction. What kind of rich person, many wondered, would want to live in such a house? Aside from the free-spirited oil heiress Aline Barnsdall, with whom he fought constantly, his motley clients included a jewelry salesman, a rare-book dealing widow and a failed doctor.”
Wright did however get the last laugh. To date, the Los Angeles Times has named the home one of Los Angeles’ 12 most significant landmarks, and in 1980, The New York Times ranked it among the few buildings in Los Angeles that “have become classic works of the 20th Century”.
While beautiful, the blocks have proven to be far from sturdy and reliable over the years. All of Wright’s concrete homes have required some level of restoration. And even shortly after Alice Millard moved into the home, a storm flooded the lower floors and Millard wrote to Wright complaining about the inadequate storm drain that resulted in the basement filling entirely with muddy water and the water rising to six inches in the dining room.
Despite these drawbacks, the home has endured and La Miniatura was purchased by David Zander, an architecture enthusiast and president of commercial/music video production company MJZ, back in the late 90s. Zander took to restoring the property with the help of architects Marmol Radziner. The home is in fact part of his “collection” of architectural masterpieces, which includes the Schaffer Residence designed by Frank Lloyd Wright protege John Lautner, and the 1906 Arts & Crafts-style Duncan-Irwin House designed by Greene & Greene. Unsurprisingly, Zander was struck by Wright’s beautiful design and knew that he had to own it, even with the costs that would come with restoring the home to its ideal state. “These places demand respect,” Zander told Departures in 2005. “They just ruin you for anything else. Once you experience how intelligently designed they are, how much integrity they have, you can’t live any other way.”