Not in the clamor of the crowded street, not in the shouts and plaudits of the throng, but in ourselves, are triumph and defeat.--Henry Wadsworth Longfellow

REDIRECT ALERT! (Scroll down past this mess if you're trying to read an archived post. Thanks. No, really, thanks.)

Due to my inability to control my temper and complacently accept continued silliness with not-quite-as-reliable-as-it-ought-to-be Blogger/Blogspot, your beloved Possumblog will now waddle across the Information Dirt Road and park its prehensile tail at http://possumblog.mu.nu.

This site will remain in place as a backup in case Munuvia gets hit by a bus or something, but I don't think they have as much trouble with this as some places do. ::cough::blogspot::cough:: So click here and adjust your links. I apologize for the inconvenience, but it's one of those things.

Wednesday, April 07, 2004

Jim Smith mentioned to me that he had noted the passing of architect Pierre Koenig, and asked if he was some kind of hot-shot guy.

The article probably says it best--

[...] His most influential designs were part of the "Case Study" movement (1945-1966) initiated by John Entenza, publisher of Arts & Architecture magazine, which eventually encompassed 36 houses. In 1957, Entenza challenged Koenig to apply industrial materials to two residential designs.

Koenig created two prototype modern houses that resemble Rubik's Cubes. One, Case Study House #21, dispensed with the traditional idea of a driveway and lawn. Its street facade was geared toward privacy of the occupants. With its blockish steel frames, windows and skylights the house struck critics at the time as being almost machine-like .

The second, Case Study #22, completed in 1960, was anchored to a Hollywood Hills lot that had been considered unbuildable and provided surprises around every corner. Immortalized in a famous architectural photo by Julius Schulman, the house features a dramatic glass-walled living room that cantilevers out from the edge of a hill and provides a 270 degree expansive view of Los Angeles below.

In the photograph, two suburban women, dressed in white, perch atop comfortable chairs oblivious to the sparkling night view of Los Angeles that stretches out like a carpet beneath them.

"In the original context, the photograph was indicating that you could be safe and bravely modern at the same time," said Sylvia Lavin, chairwoman of the department of Architecture and Design at University of California Los Angeles.

As luck would have it, there is a Julius Schulman website (from a 1998 exhibition at the Fisher Gallery at USC) where you can see his photos of Case Study 21 and Case Study 22, as well as Koenig's house in Santa Monica. You can also get a daylight glimpse of the present-day version of the Case Study 22 house at this site, and a large format version of the original here. If you like to read, this book is probably as good as any other at exploring Koenig's work and philosophy, especially considering he was a co-author.

Koenig's work and those of his contemporaries defined modern American architecture in the early 1960s--the crispness and bold forms and simple construction vocabulary, combined with striking natural settings influenced, and was spread by, a generation of architects as well as movie makers, advertisers, photographers, artists, and just regular everyday folks.

So, he was a pretty big deal.

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