It’s the ultimate California fantasy, built in the days of martinis, Sinatra and sport coats.
Pierre Koenig’s design matched perfectly with the mood of a new generation: brash, daring and dramatic.
This Los Angeles landmark is instantly recognizable from countless films and commercials shot here. The Stahl House was first made famous by a black and white shot of two well-dressed women seated in the glass-enclosed living room cantilevered over the sparkling city lights. That photograph was made by Julius Schulman, a commercial architecture photographer specializing in modernist homes.
The sleek modern home has become as much a symbol of the LA lifestyle as its beaches and palm trees. Our local architecture has long been a favorite backdrop for Hollywood filmmakers. The latest Hollywood dystopian tale, Knight of Cups, makes generous use of the distinct LA architectural style to tell its story.
And Koenig’s Case Study No. 22 gets a big part.
From the street, the residence is fairly modest. Step inside the gate and its another story.
The simple L-shaped structure sits atop a promontory in the Hollywood Hills offering sweeping views of the Los Angeles basin. Further accentuating the prominent site, nearly every wall is made of floor-to-ceiling glass which has become a hallmark of the modernist architecture style. Considering how famous the house has become, it’s hard to picture C.H. Stahl and his wife, Carlotta, prepping the lot themselves toting surplus cement to the property one car load at a time.
Today, the residence remains in the Stahl family. They make the home available for public tours on a limited basis.
Our guide, Sandi Hemmerlein, shares her experience touring the Stahl House.
They don’t make it easy to visit one of the most staggering architectural landmarks of the Hollywood Hills, Pierre Koenig’s Stahl House.
At one point, no single individual visitors were even allowed, although now that they are, one visitor costs nearly as much as two in the same car.
It seemed to me, that if I was ever going to go, I had to find a date.
I was lucky enough to find someone to accompany me, though, since I was still new in town at the time, it was somewhat of a setup through a mutual friend. Lucky for me, he was an architecture buff, perhaps even more so than me.
Tours of the house are offered at various times, but for me, the best opportunity to see not only the house, but also the view of Hollywood and West Hollywood below, was to start as daylight was waning, and stay as night fell.
There are plenty of iconic photos of The Stahl House – not the least of which by famous architectural photographer Julius Shulman – with whom none of us can compete.
But maybe I saw a glimpse of something no one else has seen. Or maybe I was able to capture it in an exact moment of light exposure or reflection which no one else has quite yet been able to accomplish.
Or maybe my photos are exact duplicates – or, worse yet, lesser copies – of the canon of Stahl House images, but they are mine, taken with my camera, seen with my eyes.
Stahl House is one of the many Case Study Houses you can find around LA (this one is #22). Witnessing it from dusk to twilight to night provides breathtaking views of this place we call home, with no small dose of romance.
Because perhaps the best thing about these modernist homes is the access they give their residents to the outdoor spaces around them.
To find out the tour schedule and to make reservations, click here.