May 11, 2017

A few weeks ago, Claudia and I ventured to the Stahl House, #22 of the Case Study houses, in Hollywood Hills for their sunset tour. I remember going to Chelsey Koenig’s home (the Architect, Pierre Koenig’s, granddaughter) a few years ago to work on our  USC project and seeing piles of books about this stunning home in their living room. It certainly sparked some interest for me to visit. And after seeing some gorgeous photos of it on Alice Gao’s blog, I reserved a sunset tour for two for April. My +1/photographer was Claudia. The catch? mobile photography only. Yes, everything was off our iphones.

Buck Stahl, the client, purchased this lot for $13,000 in 1954, he yearned to create  a modernist glass and steel constructed house that offered panoramic views of Los Angeles, but was rejected architects twice who told them that his dream home couldn’t be built. But by  1957, Pierre Koenig told him that it was possible, and  Buck Stahl hired  Koenig to take over the design.

The Stahl House house, built in 1959 for $34,000, is a relatively small one, at only 2,200 sq ft with 2 bedrooms…L-shaped in plan, one wing for private, one wing for public, with a long corridor that unites the two wings. While the Stahl family resided here, they had a long curtain wall to cover the bedroom since everything is practically exposed, and yes there are no guard rails over that cliff. The children didn’t want to continue living here and have moved out, but Shari, the sweet daughter still manages the tour reservations and helped me book mine.

Celebrities yearn to purchase the home, even for what it’s worth- a whopping 20 million dollars, but it’s not for sale. Currently, nobody lives at the home and it’s open for tours.

As for the case study house projects, most of them  hadn’t been built. Case Study houses were experimental, inexpensive, and efficient model homes sponsored by the Arts and Architecture Magazine in the 1960’s. They were were commissioned by architects including Richard Neutra, Charles and Ray Eames, and Craig Ellwood. It’s a tragedy to me that some of them were destroyed over time. While we sat in the living room admiring the romantic nightscape, Scott, our tour guide, spoke to me and Claudia about his hopes to revive some of the case study homes, whether it’s working with schools, or a new personal project. We lingered around talking to him about this and admiring his genuine passion for historic preservation.

By the next day, Scott followed up by emailing everyone in our group asking for who was interested in resuming the case study project (Claudia and me) Since I love traveling and  honing my photography skills in food and interiors, he’s scheduling me to check out the Neutra house sometime by next month. I’m very excited to expand my photography subjects… Inspiring homes, like the Stahl House, and evenings like these make me feel incredibly honored to be an architect.