By Brian Libby
Call this a case study in warm, wood-ensconced modernism from an architect known for working with steel or perhaps an example of relatively modest postwar housing from a man whose work has long been associated with Hollywood glamour. In the Crestwood Hills enclave of Brentwood, Los Angeles, known for its high concentration of homes by midcentury masters, the 1961 Wilheim House is a quintessential work by architect Pierre Koenig—with some unconventional characteristics.
Koenig, a World War II veteran, earned an architecture degree in 1952 from the University of Southern California. The young architect became interested in steel framing for houses, and when one of his professors rejected the idea, Koenig successfully designed and constructed a steel-framed home two years before he even graduated, which won him an American Institute of Architects Design Award.
The architect gained fame in 1960 with completion of the Stahl House, better known as Case Study House #22. A steel-and-glass box cantilevered its sloping site in the Hollywood Hills, the Stahl became perhaps the most familiar house of the iconic Case Study program, which included works by celebrated modernists like Richard Neutra, Charles and Ray Eames, A. Quincy Jones, and Eero Saarinen. Koenig’s two Case Study houses, the 1960 Stahl House and 1958 Walter Bailey House, were both framed with steel.
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