Day 361/365 of Steel – Pierre Koenig

Simplicity can be powerful.

Pierre Francis Koenig (October 17, 1925 – April 4, 2004) was an American architect and a Professor of Architecture at the University of Southern California. He practiced mainly on the West Coast and was most notable for the design of the Case Study Houses No. 21 and 22 in 1960.

Particularly the Case Study House #22, photographed by Julius Shulman, is widely considered the iconic postwar L.A. home, with its sweeping city views and openness to the outdoors.

CSH 22 (Stahl House)

Case Study House #22, Los Angeles California, 1960, by Julius Shulman
Fig 1: Case Study House #22, Los Angeles California, 1960, by Julius Shulman
Source:; Julius Shulman/Getty Research Institute

The simple bungalow stands on a protruding rock in the Hollywood hills. It is set in an L-shape around a swimming pool that provides the landmark for all living and bedrooms. Pierre Koenig saw fit to apply 6.1m wide glass panels using only commercially available steel components, making full use of the potential of steel to achieve an extremely minimalist design.

Koenig was convinced he could use industrial stock materials and assemble them to create something beautiful. He would attempt to design the structure using typical connection details and parts without custom detailing and welding to reduce the complexity and time of construction in the field. It is recorded that the structure of the Stahl house was erected in one day with a crew of five workers.

Case Study House #22, Los Angeles California, 1960
Fig 2: Case Study House #22, Los Angeles California, 1960
Photo: © Julius Shulman

This is a testament to the thoughtful design and approach to the structural frame of the building. The Stahl house shows that simplicity can be powerful. When designing homes, the natural tendency is often to add architectural elements in an attempt to do something “different” or make a statement.

The Stahl house shows us how dynamic a restrained and simplified work of architecture can be. What makes this house so unique and iconic? The significance of this home is the product of the site, materials, design, location, photographs, and zeitgeist of the period it was built.

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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