Stahl Residence, Case Study House #22 by Pierre Koenig

During the holidays Slow Home will be re-running archived content,  we will return in 2010 with new episodes.

  • Grace

    Wonderful! Thanks so much for this segment.

  • Brad W

    Fantastic tour and commentary on a great house. Thanks John!

    John, if you compare the photograph above with the recent photographs that you took it appears that a small deck has been added around the living room. Is that correct?

    As an aside, there are a couple of good articles in the Globe Real Estate section today. One details the plight of another famous LA residence – the Frank Lloyd Wright Ennis House. The other talks about the trend in high-end real estate towards smaller smarter design – Good things, small packages.

    Of note with the Ennis house – this is another in a line of homes by FLW brilliant in design but poor in execution. No doubt ahead the construction and engineering practice of the day.

  • Brad W

    In the Good things, small packages article note the influence of the Stahl residence and other iconic mid-century residential designs on the current homes shown. It is not just the form of the house but the philosophy behind the design which is common.

  • Belle, Toronto

    Gorgeous house! Thanks for showing these pictures. Interesting to learn about the lights outside the house. One thing that came to mind was I wouldn’t want to change the light bulbs here!

  • Tony

    Great segment John. I thoroughly enjoyed it!

  • Terri

    Thanks for the walk-through tour of this iconic home, John. Very interesting! I’ve found that learning about the layout and how the home’s elements interplay has usurped the amazing photos of its unique location above LA.

  • Doug Roberts

    Fascinating house. Very unassuming from the street side and spectacular from the cliff side. It opens up interesting possibilities when you can use the outdoors as a functional part of the house. Hey John — maybe with global warming your successors will eventually be able to do this sort of thing here in Calgary!

    I completely understand why they increased the size of the carport wall and put a locking door in it, as it would nice to be able to leave the sliding doors unlocked at night so that the children would be able to head to the kitchen for a midnight snack without either cutting through the master bedroom or having to take a key with them. However, if they aren’t fully awake when they try to negotiate that bridge they just might end up very awake and very wet!

    Interesting that they chose to put the master bedroom in the middle and the children’s bedroom at the end. From a privacy perspective I would have expected it to be the other way around, but I guess they felt that the corner of the “L” was the best place to put the master ensuite and wanted to give the master bedroom a direct link to the rest of the house.

    John — any chance that you could post a PDF or JPEG of the floorplan so that we could look at it more closely without having to pause the video?

  • John Brown

    Here is the plan.

    I agree with your thoughts about the order of the bedrooms. Add to that the fact that there were two boys and one girl growing up in the house and it is wonder that there was any privacy at all. (We learned on the tour that the kid’s bedroom had been subdivided with a wall that lined up with the center mullion. The boy’s in bunk beds on one side and the girl on the other).

    I think that the placement of the master bathroom (which is actually quite generous given the times and the size of the house) is inspired in terms of using up the outside corner of the L shaped plan.

    Also a good point about falling into the pool. Several people on the tour almost did. Also, there are no handrails anywhere and it is quite easy to just walk off the edge of the cliff. Again, it seems like an unnerving place to raise a small family.


  • John Brown

    Any chance you could share the link to the Ennis Brown House story?

    I have been taking my students there for tours for fifteen years until it was closed because of the collapsing retaining walls. I actually had the opportunity to meet Mr. Brown (no relation unfortunately) several times before he passed away.

  • Richard R


    Good things, small packages: Vancouver architect D’Arcy Jones is tapping into a new dynamic

    The Perfect House: Buyer needed to rescue a Wright masterpiece

  • Richard R

    Let’s try again…

    Good things, small packages: Vancouver architect D’Arcy Jones is tapping into a new dynamic

    The Perfect House: Buyer needed to rescue a Wright masterpiece

  • Volker

    Thank you for the little presentation.
    I think Pierre Koenig has done some outstanding houses – simple, spacious layouts. It seems to me he really liked to work with big sliding doors and water – perhaps not the perfect idea of families with small children but looking at those original picture it makes you understand the original idea behind that, behind this era of CA-Architecture.
    I guess Doug is right, perhaps those global changes will make it possible to do that kind of houses in other parts of the world too but on the other hand I’d like to know how this building is working in CA as well – guess you can not consider that to be a GREEN BUILDING but wouldn’t it be interesting to find ways to keep the idea and make this design work in the 21.century? The layout is never outdated but the contruction needs a good new makeover (without losing its obvious quality!)
    I love those case study houses – a very important piece of architectural history!

  • Deborah McP

    John, I’ve wanted so much to be “on the inside” of that iconic photo for so many years! Thank you so much for the tour and commentary.
    What a joyful, optimistic, modern house.
    Such a contrast with one of the more stifling ethos of our times: “the children must be (over)protected at all times!” I would think everyone would thrill to walk the edges of the pool and the cliff. But don’t leave us hanging… did all survive?

  • Robert

    Another modern case study home. And one shaped like a box with floor to ceiling windows. How unique.

    I disagree that the utter lack of privacy for the children’s rooms and the arduous trip from the carport to the kitchen with the grocery bags, constitute good design. I guess I just don’t get it.

    FYI – According to the son of the homes owner, the house was designed in mid 1956 by his father, C.H. Stahl. Pierre Koenig was hired to fine tune the house design and make it buildable.

  • Brad W

    Robert, you are right there are many homes shaped like a box with floor to ceiling windows. But not in 1956. Also, very few houses presented a windowless, doorless response to the front.

    The house does pose some practical problems for a family living in it, but the way it responds to its site and the social commentary it makes sets it apart as a very dynamic and influential piece of architecture.

  • James Scott

    I can’t emote how exciting this property is. Similar to other masterpieces such as The Philip Johnson Glass House it may not hold a sense of practicality for most of us but boy it really revs up the mental engine.

    I appreciate more and more when such unique ideas becomes reality. If more people would be so bold.

    It is said that most of our greatest ideas go with us to the grave. At least a few make it out alive.

    Robert – Not to create a debate but it would be interesting to see a few examples of what you and others consider an ideal living environment. For myself the influences are varied and seem to evolve as I become more familiar with other styles.

  • Brad W

    Here is a reference to the LA Times article which discusses the Stahl residence as viewed by the family and the controversy regarding its design.,0,504751.story

  • Raymond

    Hi john,
    Could you please email me a readible copy of the Stahl house blue print?

    Thank you.



  • Mid Mo

    Stumbled on your site yesterday and I love what I see. Looking forward to what you have to offer in the New Year.

    As for this home – I love to see the use of sliders and pocket doors. (On a side note I think designers should incorporate them more). In relation to how the space feels and functions – these were a necessity. Their usage in the master kept it clean, sight lines intact, and saved precious space.

  • Majd

    Does anyone know where I can find plan views of the house? Preferably with measurements. Thanks.

  • Abbe

    i need the analysis of this house as soon as possible …. that’s my email plz help me