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 Bungalow

This beautiful Bungalow house designed by architect
Athelstan Whaley as a part Edgcumbe Park resort was
for years owned by a David Weston & Scott Mycock
and used as a home and studio.  The house has been
nicely renovated and its design is spot on – classical
modernist posters, iconic mid century modern furniture
like Eames Lounge chair, Noguchi Butterfly stool,
Jacobsen Egg chair  and many others are present.
Interesting fact is that it was also used as a location
for the 1966 film Fahrenheit 451.
1960 bungalow 5-Heathermount-Drive-front-aspect bungalow 1 bungalow ding bungalow living bungalow office

Beautiful Los Angeles

LA has one of the best modern mid-century gems.
architecture. The openness and creative flow of the
city is vast. LA is the ideal setting for the mid-century
aesthetic characterized by open floor plans, clean lines,
large and plentiful windows and lots of natural light.
ander court beverly hills frank llyod wright
Anderton Court, Beverly Hill, CA
by Frank Lloyd Wright

former herman miller showroom Robertson and Beverly hills blvd
Former Herman Miller Showroom, 
Beverly Hills Blvd.

Richard Neutra_OharaHouse 1961
Richard Neutra’s Ohara House
Los Angeles, CA

 1295211433-kaufmann-house-thom-watson-528x396
Richard Neutra’s Kaufman House
Palm Springs, CA

Schindler_McAlmonHouse_1935-36
Schindler’s McAlmon House, Los Angeles, CA

RM Schindlers Fitzpatrick Leland house by russ leland 2549036289_60cb19af06_o
Schindler’s Fitzpatrick/Leland House,
Los Angeles, CA 1936

bobs big boy burbank
Bob’s Big Boy Restaurant, Burbank, CA, 1949

ed ruscha LA
Ed Ruscha apartments, Los Angeles, CA, 1965

 05-ruscha-standard-figueroa-street-los-angeles-1962
Ed Ruscha Gas Station, Los Angeles, CA, 1962

Beautiful Mid-Century Architecture

Back to my documentation of the disappearing act of beautiful
authentic Cascade Neighborhood as Amazon.com moves in.
Today I highlight the mid-century building across the street
from the Cascade Park and P-Patch. It’s the old
Central Supply Center for Seattle School District built in 1955.
I love the rhythm of the roof pattern, classic 1950s architecture.
I discovered this great website about South Lake Union
which is where changes are occurring almost daily.

school district supply center1school district supply center2