Tag: building

Iconic Building of the Month | September 2016 | Stahl House (Case Study House #22)

Stahl House by Pierre Koenig, Los Angeles, 1960.

Image: Julius Shulman

The Stahl house was part of the Case Study Houses, a program sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine, which commissioned architects of the day to design and build inexpensive and efficient homes for the residential housing boom caused by the end of World War II.

Stahl House (Case Study House #22), plan.

 

The house is considered an iconic representation of modern architecture in Los Angeles during the twentieth century. It was made famous by a Julius Shulman photograph showing two women leisurely sitting in a corner of the house with an eventide panoramic view of the city through floor-to-ceiling glass walls. It has been the setting for numerous fashion shoots, films, and advertising campaigns.

Stahl House (Case House #22) Arrival side view.

In 1999, the house was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. In 2007, the American Institute of Architects listed the Stahl House (Case Study House #22) as one of the top 150 structures on its “America’s Favorite Architecture” list, and the only privately owned home on the list. It was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 2013.

Image: Julius Shulman

Iconic Building of the Month | August 2016 | Farnsworth House

This month’s buidling is Mies Van Der Rohe’s iconic Farnsworth House.

Image Source: SavingPlaces.org | Mike Crews

Highly controversial at the time of it’s completion in 1951, the house would later be added to the National Register of Historic Places in 2004 and designated a National Landmark in 2006.

The house – designed for Edith Farnsworth as a weekend retreat – embodies the Miesian mantra “less is more.” Mies unpacks this further stating, “the essentials for living are floor and roof. Everything else is proportion and nature.”

Farnsworth House, plan.

Indeed, the structure’s minimalist elegance and the transparency that connects the one-room space to it’s surroundings are framed by the parallel planes of the elevated floor and sheltering roof.

Image Source: SavingPlaces.org | Mike Crews

But, the most powerful experience of the house is not from the outside, but the inside, where the nature’s tapestry becomes the ornamentation.

“If you view nature through the glass walls of the Farnsworth House, it gains a more profound significance than if viewed from the outside. That way more is said about nature — it becomes part of a larger whole.”

— Mies Van Der Rohe

Image Source: SavingPlaces.org | Mike Crews

Even as a master work of architecture, there are couple shortcomings to Farnsworth House.

First, siting. The weekend house was built in a floodplain, and has since been subjected to damaging water levels in 1956, 1996, 1998, and more recently in 2008. The d ecision to build the house on other higher ground of the property instead of so close to the river could have avoided multiple damaging flood events.

Second, energy efficiency. The house is incredibly energy inefficient due to it’s lack of insulation, non-thermally broken construction details, and prevalence of glass walls. However, if the house were constructed today, it could improve it’s efficiency remarkably by making use of thermally broken multi-paned insulated windows, thermally broken connection details, and advanced insulating materials.

Image Source: SavingPlaces.org | Mike Crews

Still, the Farnsworth house stands as an icon of Miesian modernism, encapsulating the architect’s design principles in an elegantly simple solution.