Case Study 22 Shulman Law

One of the most famous houses in Los Angeles, and acknowledged world-wide as a seminal modernist single home design, Case Study House #21 is arguably Pierre Koenig’s greatest steel frame design, and the high point of the Case Study Program promoted by Arts & Architecture Magazine from 1945 to 1964. The house was one of the few Case Study houses that was a true prototype in terms of ground-breaking design and use of new materials. Breathtakingly radical and innovative for its time, the public and private rooms are separated by a central core housing bathrooms and mechanical room. The structure is surrounded by water ponds that circulate to the roof and return as fountains. Koenig’s Case Study House #21 exemplifies the architectural revolution that took place in Los Angeles just after World War II. In 1997 Pierre Koenig was asked by the then current owner of the home to restore the house to its former glory, and this was completed in 1998.

The Case study Houses represented a research made by the most well-known architects of the time to investigate into technollogy and spacial conditions in order to create new ways of living for future Americans. It started a study, planning, actual design, and construction of eight houses, each to fulfil the specifications of a special living problem in the Southern California area. Nationally known architects, chosen not only for their obvious talents, but for their ability to realistically evaluate housing in terms of need, were commissioned to take a plot of God's green earth and create ''good'' living conditions for eight American families. They were free to choose or reject on a merit basis, the products of national manufacturers offering either old or new materials considered best for the purpose by each architect in his attempt to create contemporary dwelling units. They all began with the problem as posed to the architect, with the analysis of land in relation to work, schools, neighborhood conditions, and individual family need.

It was important that the best materials available were used in the best possible way in order to arrive at a ''good'' solution of each problem, which in the over-all program was supposed to become general enough to be of practical assistance to the average American in search of a home in which he can afford to live.

Not only in very practical changes of materials and techniques, but in the distribution and financing of those materials lied factors that were thought to expand considerably the definition of  the word ''house''. Beyond that, as the Case Study promoters used to say 'How long it will take for the inevitable social and economic changes brought about by the war years to affect our living standards, no one can say'.

In the Bailey House, Koening continued faithful to the idea described by the Case Studies, within a firm consistency and without unnecessary mannerisms. An eastern spirit mixed with the  American tradition of the balloon and the center-frame home, which in this case and due to the climatic characteristics, plays a counterpoint to the outdoor pool, keeping an undisputed relationship with the environment.

Nothing is excessive in the materialization, a beaty that comes from the simplicity of the termination which creates a great impact with its spatial continuity. At a time when criticism toward modern ideas began to emerge, Pierre Koenig did not need to retake any rhetorical language of the past to show a possible future. Each room of the house is clearly defined, without morphological madness or historic gestures, representing like fewothers in his time, a contemporary lifestylethat doesn't discard the routine or dreams of its inhabitants.

With an assembled structure in situ and meticulous details on the steel profiles seen, an open plan is created, that takes full advantage of the big lights offered by its double-span steel tubular frames. These are prefabricated rectangular structures - 13, 40 meters wide and 2.75 meters high, as well as three other half-width porticos to frame the entrance and garage.

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The iconic modernist residence in Los Angeles, photographed by Julius Shulman

By Kelsey Keith

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  • Stahl House, photo by Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)
  • Stahl House, photo by Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)
  • Stahl House, photo by Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)
  • Stahl House, photo by Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)
  • Stahl House, photo by Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)
  • Stahl House, photo by Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)
  • Stahl House, photo by Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)
  • Stahl House, photo by Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)
  • Stahl House, photo by Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)
  • Stahl House, photo by Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)
  • Stahl House, photo by Julius Shulman. © J. Paul Getty Trust. Getty Research Institute, Los Angeles (2004.R.10)

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