Like we mentioned yesterday when we kicked off our LA interview series, one of the first things we did after we booked our recent trip to Los Angeles was reach out to our various friends out there on what we should do whilst in the land of ocean sunsets, palm tree forests, and all that stuff you see in the intro to Entourage.
Oddly, no one suggested we hit up velvet-roped clubs or star-studded walks of fame. But there was no shortage of legitimately exciting recommendation for our stay; chief among them, a suggestion from our friend Martha—who we’ll interview a little later—to visit Stahl House.
Stahl House is a modernist private home situated cliff-side in the Hollywood Hills, designed by American architect Pierre Koenig and built in 1959. It was first made famous by architectural photographer Julius Shulman‘s photograph above. According to the Stahl House site:
“Telling the story of the Stahl House one is hard pressed to draw a line between the iconic aspects of the home and the family that lived there. But that is the point, there is no line. The house was not always famous and the Stahl’s, according to Bruce Stahl, were a “blue collar family living in a white collar house. Nobody famous ever lived here” he quipped. So why is it so famous and how did it become one of the most celebrated homes in America? Well, one would have to start with the owner and initial designer, CH “Buck” Stahl.
Buck and his wife Carlotta bought the piece of land the house sits on back in 1954 on a handshake and $13,500.00. Aside from the spectacular view this was an unfriendly spot, precarious and difficult to mold into the vision Buck had for the home. A graphic designer and sign painter by trade he and Carlotta set about the arduous task of carting left over concrete from around the cities construction projects, one load at a time in the back of their car up to the property. It needed, after all, some help to keep the land in place and establish the basis for grading the property.
Some ideas for the design of the house began to manifest over the two years of hard weekend labor, so Buck made a model of the idea he and Carlotta dreamed into being. In late 1957 the Stahl’s, after two other tries, found an ambitious and ingenious young architect named Pierre Koenig. Pierre was the only one daring enough to consider the cantilevered foundation so breathtaking today. A pioneer of building homes with glass and steel the final designs geometry and symmetry reflect the gridlines of Hollywood streets directly below.”
Though Stahl House remains a privately owned home to this day, it was built as part of LA’s Case Study Houses program, which began in 1945 as a series of experimental modernism residential architecture sponsored by Arts + Architecture magazine. Stahl House was Case Study no. 22.
Today, the public can take tours of the home, which we highly recommend. Though the Stahl House site comes off as a bit intimidating at first blush, once we wound your way up the Hollywood Hills—which was, admittedly, a considerable feat—our guide was totally laid back, allowing the kind of freeform, wander-where-you-will tour experience we tend to prefer.
And the views…OH, the views. We hear it’s amazing at night too. Below, our various photos of the house, us pretending to live in said house, and previously mentioned majestic views. Click on any of them to scroll through full-screen versions.
Top photo: Julius Shulman