Perhaps the most widely recognized mid-century home in Los Angeles is the Stahl House by Los Angeles architect Pierre Koenig. Perched on a nearly vertical precipice in the Hollywood Hills, at the time of its construction the site was considered by many architects to be completely unsuitable for building on.
The Stahl House is also commonly known as Case Study House #22. The Case Study houses were part of a program sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine that commissioned major architects to design and build affordable model homes for the housing boom brought on by millions of soldiers returning home at the end of World War II. The program ended up running from 1945 to 1966 and included architects such as Richard Neutra, Raphael Soriano, Eero Saarinen, Craig Ellwood, Charles and Ray Eames, and as noted here, Pierre Koenig.
One of the standout elements of Pierre Koenigs work was his use of steel in the home’s design. The established school of thought at the time was that steel was too “industrial” and that woman would never want to live in such a home. However, once fully realized into a structure for living, the brilliance of Koenig’s homes became indisputable. With their simplicity, their graceful lines and proportions, and their bright and airy openness, his ideas represented a new ideal in living.
Koenig’s houses, and the Stahl House especially, became popularized thanks in no small part to the unforgettable photographs taken by the renowned architectural photographer Julius Shulman that captured the imagination of viewers immediately and ever since. These images convey not only the innovation and strength of design of a home that rests comfortably on the edge of the cliff above the city, with lights blanketing the landscape for miles, but also a contemporary and casual lifestyle with an indoor/outdoor flow that became a hallmark of the California aesthetic that continues to this day. The mostly windowed house allows a breathtaking 240-degree view of the city. And thanks to the house’s steel frame, the roof overhangs are able to jut out a generous 8 feet, which provides a very effective means of shading the windows.
"It was my notion, when I started, to make anonymous architecture for ordinary people." - Pierre Koenig
The Stahl House holds visits that are open to the public. The viewings last 60 minutes and include access to the interior yard and pool area, as well as the kitchen, dining room, and living room. For more information tours, see http://www.stahlhouse.com