post-World War II reconstruction was essential because of the housing shortage and harsh economic conditions in the United States. In response to the , the Case Houses Program was organized to design housing units for the , and the building materials were targeted to achieve the construction goal using the steel framing to build the structure[footnoteRef:1]. Typically, the program encouraged the designers and architects to use low costs and modern housing prototype to design house for the American community. For example, the that was completed in 1959 integrated the new concept and adopt new building technologies to the construction process.[footnoteRef:2] Despite the success of the Case House Program to the American community, the program was less attractive to the mass construction market because the glass and steel houses were new to the American people. [1: Smith, Elizabeth. Case Study Houses The Complete CSH Program 1945-1966. Taschen. 2009.] [2: Art and Architecture. The Case House Program. 2010. Art and Architecture Magazine.]
The objective of this paper is to evaluate the Case study house 21 of Los Angeles discussing the innovation and challenges in the construction process.
Innovation and Challenges of the Case House Program 21
The Case House 21 Los Angeles was designed by Pierre Koenig and represented the innovative experiment that conceived the modern and middle century architectural design. To design the house, Pierre Koenig used the on the site that represented a development of the steel housing architectural refinement of the time. Pierre Koenig used the readily available steel materials to design a carefully conceived house. The technology used to develop the house consisted of the steel and glass wall was integrated with steel ceiling[footnoteRef:3]. The house was different from the traditional overhanging ceiling because it protects the occupants from the California heat. In the southern part of the house, installed are the cooling shades, and sun control that provided the feeling of privacy. [3: Jackson, Neil. Pierre Koenig: 1925-2005: Living with Steel. Los Angeles: TASCHEN, 2007 ]
Moreover, the Case study house 21 was surrounded by water that introduced a new concept in the design of the housing structure, which delivered the esthetical beauty. Pierre Koenig considered water as being very critical to the project, thus, he used the hydraulic technology to pump water to the roof from the water pool. The water also provided the fountain effect as well as delivering the iconic looking effect to the building. The water also had the decorative function that amplifies the house profile as well as creating a peaceful atmosphere to the surrounding.[footnoteRef:4] [4: Ibid Smith, Elizabeth. 2009.]
Koenig introduced the concept of water in the design to amplify the clean environment and added to the aesthetic and serenity beauty of the building. Moreover, the water played a critical role in enhancing a reflection for both the architecture and nature. Since, it is generally hot in Los Angeles, the water assists in cooling the house. Koenig also considered using the water as the natural ventilation for the house[footnoteRef:5]. [5: Ibid Jackson, Neil. Pierre Koenig: 1925-2005]
Additionally, the water heating system and two bathrooms are located at the center of the house, and the baths are accessible from all the rooms allowing the lights into the kitchen and the living areas. These effects made the Case House 21 project to represent a unique architectural planning. Moreover, Koenig used the red brick steel frame for the office patio, entrance pad, walkway between the kitchen and carport. The pebble gravel also adjoins the reflection ponds provides a high level of integrity for the house[footnoteRef:6]. [6: Banham, Reyner, and Thomas Hine. Blueprints for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study Houses. Ed. Elizabeth A.T. Smith. New York: MIT P, 1999.]
Moreover, the project was designed with 8″ steel beams, 22′ long with 10′ space apart. The living portion of the house was 30′ x 44′ with two columns in the interior. Koenig also used the steel roof to achieve the maximum efficiency. Completed in 1959, the case housing programs represented the immaculate and cleanest development in the small contemporary housing environment. The glass and steel used to build the house were incredible light, and glass exterior and opaque interiors are slide opened to the sweet Hollywood Hills air. The house was beautiful, affordable and envisioned the prototype of a modern housing unit. The combination of steel and water was the theme of the house, the bedrooms communicate with one another through the passage closed to the storage wall and the sliding door[footnoteRef:7]. [7: Tran, David and Pascal Babey, Pascal. A Virtual Look into Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House #21, the Bailey House Archilogic. 2015.]
The case study 21 project was publicized to the public with the assistance of the Arts & Architecture magazine that disclosed the immaculate and cleanest aspect of the house. After the publication, the house was opened to the public viewing for several weeks. Afterward, the photographers were invited, and the photographs were displayed in the magazine that made the house an icon symbol of modern California. In 1989, the Case Study Houses were displayed at the Los Angeles Museum after it was forgotten in the 1970s and ’80s[footnoteRef:8]. [8: Steele, James, and David Jenkins. Pierre Koenig. New York: Phaidon P, 2002. p. 48]
The Case House 21 provides several benefits to the housing environment. First, the project saved the number of labor used to develop the house because the construction labor was to the traditional block and brick building method. The materials used for the Case House was already fabricated offsite that facilitated the use of a lesser number of labor for the construction.[footnoteRef:9] . Moreover, the project saved labor time compared to the traditional method of construction. The time spent for the project was half of the time used for the traditional building. Thus, the reduction of the labor costs and time used for the construction made the project more affordable to the middle class since the post-World War II consequently reduced the purchasing power of the average American. After the war, the lifestyle of an average American was downgraded because of high unemployment. Thus, many people migrated to the California in search of job opportunities leading to the growth of the population of the Los Angeles[footnoteRef:10]. [9: Fawett, Revill and Corner. Home Building: Measuring Construction Performance, National Audit Office, London.2007.] [10: Ibid Banham, Reyner, and Thomas Hine. 1999.]
The cost saving is another benefit of the project because the use of the fabricated offsite materials saved the time and costs that would have been incurred if the materials were fabricated on site. The quality is another benefit of the project. The use of stainless steel and glass offered the quality preference for the project. The durability is another benefit associated with the project. The project also offers an environmental benefit because the building allows a free flow of natural air across the building. Moreover, the natural pool of water integrated into the building allows a natural cooling of the house and neutralized the high temperature of California.
Despite the associated benefits to the Case Study 21 project, the public acceptability of the building is still slow compared to the traditional brick and block building. In the United States, the traditional building has dominated the housing markets for several centuries, thus, a sudden introduction of the new method of building construction faces challenges in securing public acceptance[footnoteRef:11]. [11: Ibid Smith, Elizabeth. 2009.]
In 1969, 10 years after the project was completed, the owner of the building relocated to the East Coast, and 30 years after the completion of the project, the owner vandalized the building because of lack of appreciation in the design. The owner replaced the kitchen with fashionable kitchen materials and added the fireplace. In 1997, an admirer saw the pictures of the house and offered $1.5 million to purchase the house. The house was redeveloped and achieved the architectural restoration. In 1999, the Architectural Digest wrote an elaborate article on the house making the house be attracted to several viewers. In 2001, the City of Los Angeles honored the Pierre Koenig the Award of excellence because of his restoration of Bailey House.[footnoteRef:12] [12: Ibid Tran, David and Pascal Babey, Pascal. 2015.]
The post-war shortage of the housing unit in California led to the development of the housing program to alleviate the problem of the housing shortage. Pierre Koenig was among the architects who designed Case Study housing program 21 for the middle-level Americans that enjoyed public acceptable. Koenig used to the combination of steel and glass to develop the house. Apart from being cost effective, the project survives for several decades. In 2001, the City of Los Angeles awarded Koenig with the Award of excellence for his restoration of Bailey House.
Banham, Reyner, and Thomas Hine. Blueprints for Modern Living: History and Legacy of the Case Study Houses. Ed. Elizabeth A.T. Smith. New York: MIT P, 1999.
Jackson, Neil. Pierre Koenig: 1925-2005: Living with Steel. Los Angeles: TASCHEN, 2007
Smith, Elizabeth. Case Study Houses The Complete CSH Program 1945-1966. Taschen. 2009.
Tran, David and Pascal Babey, Pascal. A Virtual Look into Pierre Koenig’s Case Study House #21, the Bailey House Archilogic. 2015.
Fawett, Revill and Corner. Home Building: Measuring Construction Performance, National Audit Office, London.2007.
Jackson, Neil. Pierre Koenig: 1925-2005: Living with Steel. Los Angeles: TASCHEN, 2007
Steele, James, and David Jenkins. Pierre Koenig. New York: Phaidon P, 2002. p. 48