Architect Pierre Koenig died Sunday at his home in Brentwood. His Case Study houses #21 and #22 helped put Koenig among the elite modernist architects who gave Southern California a new reputation for suburban design in the postwar years. The famous photo at left by Julius Shulman is of the Stahl house (#22) in the Hollywood Hills. It appears on the Taschen webite along with a 2001 interview reuniting architect, clients and photographer that appeared in Los Angeles magazine. From the Nicolai Ouroussoff obituary in today's L.A. Times:
As part of a group of architects that also included Charles and Ray Eames, Raphael Soriano and Craig Ellwood, Koenig was a key figure in a generation that helped make Los Angeles one of the great laboratories of 20th century architecture. Of these visionaries, Koenig seemed best able to capture the hopes and anxieties of California's booming middle class...
His first house was completed in 1950, while he was still a student at USC, and is an expression of many of the themes that would concern him throughout his career. Built at a modest cost of $5,000, the house was a model of industrial efficiency. Its L-shaped form was supported on slender steel columns and capped by a corrugated metal roof. Sliding doors opened onto a small private garden. Inside, more sliding partitions separated living and sleeping areas.
Other projects, such as the 1953 Lamel House in Glendale and the 1957 Burwash House in Tujunga, signaled Koenig's early mastery of composition and form. Mostly designed of affordable Industrial Age materials, they were a reflection of Le Corbusier's famous dictum that houses were "machines for living." The difference was Koenig's ability to root such ideas in the particular ethos of suburban L.A., with its trim lawns and whirring appliances. In Koenig's mind, the ideal house would one day be mass-produced "just like a car."
Among his survivors is his wife, the author Gloria Koenig.