Beautiful Stahl House

STAHL HOUSE, COMPLETED IN 13 MONTHS AND COSTING $37,500, FURTHER DEMONSTRATED PIERRE KOENIG’S FLAIR FOR WORKING WITH INDUSTRIAL MATERIALS, PARTICULARLY STEEL, GLASS, AND CONCRETE

Stahl-Landscape1-The image is instantly familiar; the house, all dramatic angles, concrete, steel and glass, perched indelibly above Los Angeles, with Hollywood’s lights resembling a circuit board below it. Inside, two women sit, stylish and relaxed, talking casually behind the monumental floor to ceiling glass walls. One of the world’s most iconic photographs, Julius Schulman’s Case Study 22 beautifully captures the optimism of 1950s Los Angeles, and the striking beauty of architect Pierre Koenig’s masterpiece, Stahl House. The classic L shaped pavilion, cantilevered above Hollywood on Woods Drive, was built in 1959 after being adopted into the Case Study Program, an experimental residential design initiative that commissioned architects to create model homes in the wake of the 1950s housing boom. Stahl House, also known as No. 22, was the wild one, conjured up by the man who purchased the plot of land at 1635 Woods Drive in 1954 for $13,500 and sealed the deal with a handshake. C H ‘Buck’ Stahl was a dreamer, who, along with his wife Carlotta, set about finding the right person to bring his vision for an innovative and thoroughly modern home to life.

Stahl-portrait1-chairstahl_portrait2-pool.jpgBuck was a former professional footballer who worked as a graphic designer and sign painter. He spent his first few years as a landowner hauling broken blocks of concrete to the site in attempt to improve its precarious foundation. He and Carlotta ferried their finds, load by load, back to Woods Drive in the back of Buck’s Cadillac, hopeful the reinforcements would prevent the land from sliding. Buck’s dreams for the house began to take shape over the following two years, and eventually, he made a model of the future Stahl House. His grand designs, however, were promptly rejected by several notable architects.

Stahl-Landscape2-view.jpgCarlotta recalled Buck continually telling prospective architects “I don’t care how you do it, there’s not going to be any walls in this wing.” Until they hired Pierre Koenig in 1957, an ambitious young architect determined to build on a site nobody would touch, it seemed unlikely the house would ever exist. Pierre described the process of building Stahl House as “trying to solve a problem – the client had champagne tastes and a beer budget.” He was interested in working with steel, and despite being warned away from it by his architecture instructors, possessed great aptitude for it. He’d experimented with a number of exposed glass and steel homes before he created Case Study 21, or The Bailey House in 1958 and 1959, and his skill for designing functional spaces with simplicity of form, abundant natural light, and elegant lines would eventually make him a master of modernism. Stahl House, completed in 13 months and costing 37,500 USD, further demonstrated Pierre’s flair for working with industrial materials, particularly steel, glass, and concrete. The project put him on the map as an architect with an incredible eye for balance, symmetry, and restraint. The 2,040 m² house was, as Buck insisted, built without walls in the main wing to allow for sweeping 270º views. Three sides of the building were made of plate glass, unheard of in the late 1950s, and deemed dangerous by engineers and architects. This design feature required Pierre to source the largest pieces of glass available for residential use at the time. With two bedrooms, two bathrooms, polished concrete floors, and a very famous swimming pool (a fixture in countless films and fashion editorials) Stahl House was an immediate mid century icon.

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Although there has been some dispute over Buck’s influence on the design in the years since he died in 2005 and Pierre Koenig’s death in 2004, some experts who have seen Buck’s original model agree that his concept informed the direction the Stahl House would finally take.

“I dismissed it as typical owner hubris at the time,” architect and writer Joseph Giovannini told the Los Angeles Times in 2009. “The gesture of the house cantilevering over the side of the hill into the distant view is clearly here in this model. But it is Pierre’s skill that elevated the idea into a masterpiece. This is one of the rare cases it seems that there is a shared authorship.”

Today, Stahl House is still owned by the Stahl family. Though it remains a magnet for film crews and photographers the world over, for Bruce Stahl, Buck and Carlotta’s son, who grew up there with his siblings, it was simply part of a typical, happy childhood. “We were a blue collar family living in a white collar house,” he said. “Nobody famous ever lived here.”

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Credits: Lucy Brook
Photos: Rick Poon

Beautiful Googie Architecture

Union 76 Gas Station

The dramatic upward-curving roof is one of the most iconic examples
of Googie architecture that still stands today.

gas station 1

What looks like a flying carpet anchored to the ground with pillars at
the intersection of Crescent Drive and Little Santa Monica Boulevard in
Los Angeles is actually a functional gas station. It’s also one of the most
iconic examples of Googie architecture in the world.

gas station 2

The dramatic upward-curved canopy decorated with red square tiles was
originally designed in the 1960s by architect Gin Wong to be a part of the
city’s airport, but when that plan was changed, it ended up as a Union 76
gas station. When the fluorescent lights that follow the curve are turned on,
Jack Colker’s 76 station, as it is commonly known, goes from flying carpet
to embellished spaceship.

Googie_GasStation
It was completed in 1965, right around the time when the eye-catching
Googie style was extremely popular in California. Inspired by the SpaceAge,
fast cars, and jets, Googie style buildings contain steel, plastic, and neon,
twisted into crazy shapes and designs. Several of these whimsical creations
were demolished in the decades that followed but there are still handful of
them scattered around the Golden State.

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gas station 4
Atlas Obscura

Beautiful Winery in Napa

Seems to good to be true — you stop for gas, and find an oasis of pinot instead.
Napa has a new hot-spot, is Tank Garage Winery— an old vintage service station
transformed into a super cool wine country destination. It’s the perfect casual
road stop to try some new wine, take in the scenery or snap a few good photos.
Not a huge fan of wine in general, I’m more a of craft cocktail gal, but I love
the name, branding and use of old materials.

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Photography by ashley rose conway of craft and cocktails and ana kamin of california weekend via rue

Beautiful Dream Life

Design bloggers Brooke and Steve Gianetti, (Velvet & Linen) have written a beautiful book about the process of building their marvelous home in Ojai, California called Patina Farm.  And now it’s in a book with beautiful photos of a place I would call utopia living.  It’s the stuff that dreams are made of, of a beautiful alternate life adorned with vintage French wood doors, charming chicken coops, dreamy landscapes, glass walled showers and baby goats.  I would love to visit this place.

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Backyard garden view with gravel path through boxwood shrubs leading towards backdoor of tan house with red tile roof.
Backyard garden view with gravel path through boxwood shrubs leading towards backdoor of tan house with red tile roof.

Beautiful Sculpture

Recently I had the pleasure to visit these magical willow houses. Actually it’s an art installation by Patrick Dougherty at the Palo Alto Art Center.

willow branch sculpture

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They are little huts of woven willow branches creating tunnels and arches, in and out of doorways. The art piece is called Double Take and here is a YouTube video about its installation. If you happen to be in the SF Bay Area Peninsula area, the Palo Alto Art Center is worth a visit. Patrick Dougherty’s sculptures have been there for a few years, and the sculpture will remain until the willow branches naturally decay.

Beautiful Sculpture

Nestled in the hills just south of Napa, CA
is the fabulously fun Glashoff  sculpture gallery
and garden in Suisun City, CA. Be sure to check
it out if you are ever in Napa. Phillip Glashoff
continues the tradition of the lifestyle he was
born to on his northern California ranch.
His real passion is creating sculpture out of
scrap metal. The results dot the landscape
of the ranch; herds of steel sculpted cattle,
giant banjos, and archways made of street signs
just to name a few of which must be hundreds.

My favorite is the wind-up toy car that sits atop
a pole in the middle of the sculpture garden.
car

The kangaroo is made entirely of
recycled bolts.
bolts

Charming figure do the landscape including
a cowboy and his horse.
tonto

Candyland game sculpture made of
recycled metal and steel materials
candyland

This charming TP Lady holds all
your toilet needs and towels.
tp lady

Dancing Girl
dancing girl

Sculpture Garden – Great place to wander.
sculpture garden