Who: John Hilliard & Christine Bruce Where: Lompoc, Santa Barbara…
What: Stahl House
Where: Los Angeles, USA
Two years ago I had the unique experience to leave my Berlin life behind and move to Los Angeles for the duration of six months. An amazing chance and I tried to make the best of it: For example, the frame and first contents for MySylery were developed there. California – especially Palm Springs – is an Eldorado for architecture enthusiasts. But L.A. has a lot to offer as well architectural wise. I don’t necessarily mean the multi-million dollar villas in Beverly Hills and Bel Air. Anyone who comes to the City of Angels should absolutely include the Stahl House (also known as Case Study House no.22) into their sightseeing program.
Named after it’s owner, former American Football Player C. H. “Buck” Stahl, American architect Pierre Koenig designed a modern glass construction in 1959, which by all means – if one doesn’t know any better – could also pass as a current design. Large-scale glazing as well as the use of industrial material such as steel are nothing spectacular in the minimalistic architecture nowadays – but in the 1950s it was an absolute first. Till this day the Stahl House is still in possession of the Stahl family.
The drive alone to this impressive iconic building is a highlight for itself: From Sunset Boulevard you have to drive up the partially narrow and steep streets into the Hollywood Hills. As a driver I’m constantly hoping that as little cars as possible are coming my way. From up here you have a full view over Los Angeles. When the view is good – without smog or fog – you can see the skyline of Downtown Los Angeles on the left hand and on the other side the Pacific Ocean at the horizon. What a truly stunning view!
The Stahl House is not only exceptionally situated. What is mostly not possible with other ‘case study’ houses: you can also have a tour of the inside. Melissa Stahl, a friendly woman in her late-forties welcomes me and the other tour members while conducting the small car-convoy onto the restricted parking area. The mother of three and wife of one of the Stahl sons very personally narrates the experiences of her husband, who has spent his childhood here. The construction of the building then cost 35.000 US dollars. Today there are buying offers of over 15 million dollars. But the Stahl’s don’t even think about selling this incredible piece of architecture. Even though none of them lives here and the preservation of the building is connected with a lot of work and money.
In the late nineties the landmarked building has been extensively renovated and today it is furnished with modern design classics. How Melissa’s parents-in-law have lived here is largely only documented on the framed family photos. The kitchen however is – beside the fridge – still maintained in its originality. And the guest-toilette, a transcendence of the taste of the 70s: brown-orange flowered retro wallpapers, flowery Pril-stickers on the tiles, behind the toilette a green fluffy carpet sticking on the wall. This little imperfection is everything but design-award-worthy, therefore much more authentic. After all, there have been real people living in this monument. BvH
Book your online tickets for a tour through the Stahl-House before your stay in L.A., the tours are restricted to 25 people max and extremely popular. Tickets from 35 US Dollar. By the way, the Stahl House will be closed from May 26th to June 5th 2016