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Pierre Koenig / Case Study House #22 - Stahl House

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Case Study House #22, aka Stahl House, is a modernist styled house in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, California that was designed by Pierre Koenig. Photographic and anecdotal evidence suggests that the architect's client, Buck Stahl, may have provided an inspiration for the overall structure.[1]

Case Study Houses

The Case Study Houses were experiments in American residential architecture sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine, which commissioned major architects of the day, including Richard Neutra, Raphael Soriano, Craig Ellwood,Charles and Ray Eames, Pierre Koenig and Eero Saarinen, to design and build inexpensive and efficient model homes for the United States residential housing boom caused by the end of World War II and the return of millions of soldiers.
The program ran intermittently from 1945 until 1966. The first six houses were built by 1948 and attracted more than 350,000 visitors. While not all 36 designs were built, most of those that were constructed were built in Los Angeles; a few are in the San Francisco Bay Area, and one was built in Phoenix, Arizona. A number of them appeared in the magazine in iconic black-and-white photographs by architectural photographer Julius Shulman.

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Julius Shulman Photographs

Pierre Koenig

Pierre Koenig was born in San Francisco on October 17, 1925. Even as a boy, Koenig displayed a nascent interest in architecture and Modernism. In 1939, the family moved to San Gabriel, Los Angeles suburb, and here, among a new group of friends who also wanted to be architects, Koenig's earlier interest crystallized. Yet World War II loomed, and at age 17 Koenig enlisted in the United States Army Advanced Special Training Program, which offered a compressed 4-year college degree in 2 years. However, in 1943 the program was abruptly ended and after only one semester of study at the University of Utah, School of Engineering, Koenig was sent to basic training. From 1943-1946, Koenig served on the front lines in France and Germany as a flash ranging observer, spotting enemy fire and calculating their position, with the 292nd Field Artillery Observation Battalion.

After the war, Koenig returned to Los Angeles and applied to the University of Southern California(USC), School of Architecture. Due the influx of returning GIs, there was a two-year waiting list for admission, and Koenig spent this time studying at Pasadena City College until he was finally admitted to USC in 1948. At this time, USC was the leading architectural school in California, and a hotbed of new ideas brought about by the aftermath of the war: ideas about how architecture should respond to social issues, such as the population boom in Los Angeles and the need for low-cost housing, and ideas about how to apply the new materials and industrialized techniques of the wartime economy, such as mass-production and pre-fabrication, to peacetime.

After receiving his B.Arch in 1952, Koenig worked both independently and for a number of other architectural practices. In fact, Koenig had begun designing and building houses while still a student. When a USC studio instructor rejected his design for a steel house, questioning the applicability of steel to residential architecture, Koenig decided to prove him wrong. His response, Koenig House No. 1, designed and built by Koenig in 1950, was constructed at a cost lower than a traditional wood frame structure and earned him the American Institute of Architects' "House and Home" Award of Merit.
1957 was a watershed year for Pierre Koenig. He was licensed; he received his first invitation to participate in an international exhibition, the São Paulo Biennial; and Arts and Architecture magazine published his designs for a "Low-cost Production House" exemplifying his goal to produce "off-the-shelf" houses as efficiently as automobiles. Most importantly though John Entenza invited him to participate in Art and Architecture's Case Study House Program.

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Stahl House

Case Study House # 21, immediately followed by Case Study House # 22, defined Koenig's style and brought him great attention. With their steel construction, open-planning, and emphasis on the unity of nature and architecture, these two steel houses exemplified the California aesthetic as being different from East Coast Modernism. Despite their conceptual similarities, the two houses were quite different from one another. Case Study House # 22, which quickly came to be seen as the perfect manifestation of modernity in Los Angeles and of life in post-war America in general, was a unique custom house, an exercise in overcoming the engineering issues of a near vertical site. Case Study House #21, on the other hand, was meant to be a prototype for affordable, mass-producible housing, an embodiment of Koenig ’s belief in architecture as a social study.

It was made famous by a photograph by Julius Shulman showing two women leisurely sitting at a corner of the house with a panoramic view of the city through the floor-to-ceiling glass walls at night.[3] The house was used in numerous fashion shoots, ad campaigns and at least five films.[2]

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In 2007, the American Institute of Architects listed the Stahl House (#140) as one of the top 150 structures on its "America's Favorite Architecture" list, one of only 11 in Southern California, and the only privately owned home on the list.[4] The house was included in a list of all-time top 10 houses in Los Angeles in a Los Angeles Times survey of experts in December 2008.[5] The house is considered an iconic representation of modern architecture in Los Angeles during the 20th century.[2]
The house has been featured in countless movies including Playing By Heart (where it was used John Stewart’s house) Why Do Fools Fall In Love, Galaxy Quest, The Final Power, Thirteenth Floor, The Marrying Man, Prescription Murder, Corina Corina, Nurse Betty, Where the Truth Lies, and Smog; the television shows Adam 12, Night Stalker, and Emergency;
The house is privately owned.

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Gentry Polaroid Styled Photolog for Mens’ Clothing Collection shot in Stahl House      

After this early recognition, Koenig went on to have a long and prolific career as an architect, designing and building over forty-three steel and glass houses, including award-winning structures, such as Schwartz House and Koenig House No. 2, as well as many residential additions and renovations and commercial buildings. Throughout his long years of architectural practice Koenig never relinquished the principles that led him to design and build his first house. He retained a sense of mission, never losing his commitment to the social agenda of Modernism. He truly believed that he could make people's lives better through architecture. Pierre Koenig remained active in both his architectural practice and his teaching until shortly before his death in April 2004.[1]
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Great 10 minute short film by Eliza Cluea about this great house and the context in which it was build and received its recognition:

Vans presents the OTW Collection, in association with Dimitri Coste, The Blackouts, & Eric Elms. One of meny commercials and movies shot at the Stahl House - Case Study #22:

Streetview on Google earth is not avaliable for the house since it is on private propery and on the cliff (off course) but it could be seen (almost) from the distance, from the Hollywood Blvd.
View Larger Map Better view on the position on the house is on Bing Maps Bird View

The Official Website

Links on Wikipedia:
Pierre Koenig
Case Study Houses
Stahl House

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