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Case Study House #22 – Stahl House

Mar 17, 2011 by Lisa Newton

I’ve written about the Case Study Houses a couple of times, nonetheless, with so many of the Case Study Houses being here in Los Angeles, all too often I’ve encountered one of the houses that I’ve not written about and the fact of their absolute uniqueness stands out and remains a driving force for examination for years to come.

One of these houses in particular, was considered modern even when it was built over 50 years ago. Well its still one of the most famous residences in the world and is still ensconced in the “modern” category to this day.

Located at 1635 Woods Drive in West Hollywood, the Stahl House, named after C.H. “Buck” Stahl, a former professional football player, appears to be floating over Los Angeles. That effect is due to the three sides of the house are plate glass. Pierre Koenig, the architect, used the largest glass plates available at the time.

It all began in 1954, when Stahl, on a hand shake, bought the lot for $13,500, which at the time, would have been enough to purchase a 3 bedroom house in most other parts of the city. Over the next few years, Stahl collected building materials and started construction on his dream home. This photo is from a Life magazine article "Way Up Way of Living on California’s Cliffs," dated Feb. 23, 1962, in which Stahl is “Gardening 1,000 feet above Los Angeles,” with only a rope tied around his waist preventing him from falling “160 feet to the next level.”

In 1957, Stahl hired Koenig, however, construction didn’t begin until September 1959. Completed in May 1960, the two-bedroom, 2,200-square-foot house’s total cost $37,651, including its pool.

So for a total of $51,151, the Stahl family, who still live in the house, have a home that today, has had offers as high as $15,000,000.

Although most of the credit for the house goes to Koenig, it was Stahl’s vision that started the ball rolling, and amazingly, the original idea is very close to the finished product.

Not too surprisingly, the Stahl House has appeared in more than 1,200 newspaper and magazine articles, journals and books, not to mention its inclusion in many films, TV shows and commercials.

Here’s a recent one for Vans OTW Collection:

Today, if you’d like to see the house for yourself, it’s available. Mark Stahl, Buck’s son, has opened the house to tours and events:

  • Afternoon Viewing: Includes access to the interior yard and pool area, as well as the kitchen, dining room, and living room. The bedroom wing of the home is closed but is viewable through the windows. The viewing lasts 1 hour. $26.00 per person – Minimum of 2 paid guests per reservation. You may attend alone but you will need to pay for 2.
  • Evening Viewing: Includes access to the interior yard and pool area, as well as the kitchen, dining room, and living room. The bedroom wing of the home is closed but is viewable through the windows. The viewing lasts 1 1/2 hours. $42.00 per person – Minimum of 2 paid guests per reservation. You may attend alone but you will need to pay for 2.

Besides the obvious reasons for the Stahl House’s notoriety, a photo taken by legendary photographer Julius Shulman put the house in the mass media for everyone to see. From the Getty Research Institute Digital Collection, here are 6 photos Shulman took of the Stahl House in 1960:

Recently, a film biography of Julius Shulman, entitled Visual Acoustics, the Modernism of Julius Shulman, was recently released shortly after his death, and the Stahl home is featured prominently in the movie.

You can also add being Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument #670 to the list of accolades.

Slider photo courtesy of Stahl House.

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Architecture, Culture, SoCal, Westside LA
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