Time Magazine has trained its editorial eye on the millions of images produced in the nearly 200-year-old history of the photographic medium and come up with 100 that it deems the most influential in the history of the world. Appearing on that prestigious list is Julius Shulman’s iconic image of one of the most famous homes in Los Angeles: the Stahl House.
Also known as Case Study House No. 22, the home was designed by Pierre Koenig as part of the Case Study program sponsored by Arts & Architecture that showcased the works of some of California’s greatest modern architects. Perched in the Hollywood Hills, the glass-walled home seems to float above the lights of the city in Shulman’s brilliant photos—smartly taken both at night and during the day, when views from the pool deck are equally impressive.
The two women Shulman enlisted to pose within the glass-walled home look a little out of place among the burnt bodies and war-torn cities depicted in many of the other photos on the list, but it’s certainly true that Shulman’s photo significantly impacted contemporary attitudes toward modern architecture, Los Angeles, and even the American Dream.
At a time when a two-story home fronted by a green lawn and a white picket fence still embodied success for many Americans, Shulman’s shot presented a starkly different alternative: a dramatic, glassy box that seems to defy gravity—and yet still looks like home.
As Time argues, the picture “perfected the art of aspirational staging, turning a house into the embodiment of the Good Life, of stardusted Hollywood, of California as the Promised Land.”
This article is about the historic house in Los Angeles, California. For the historic house in Bayamón, Puerto Rico, see Dr. Agustín Stahl Stamm House.
The Stahl House (also known as Case Study House #22) is a modernist-styled house designed by architect Pierre Koenig in the Hollywood Hills section of Los Angeles, California. Photographic and anecdotal evidence suggests that the architect's client, Buck Stahl, may have provided an inspiration for the overall structure. In 2013 it was listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
Built in 1959 as part of the Case Study Houses program, 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. The house has been used in numerous fashion shoots, films, and advertising campaigns. Films include Smog (1962); The First Power (1990); The Marrying Man (1991); Corrina, Corrina (1994); Playing by Heart (1998), where it was used as the home of Jon Stewart’s character; Why Do Fools Fall In Love (1998); Galaxy Quest (1999), as the home of Tim Allen's character; The Thirteenth Floor (1999); Nurse Betty (2000); and Where the Truth Lies (2005). Television shows include Adam-12; Emergency!; and Columbo. The house is prominently featured in the music videos for I Don't Wanna Stop (2003) by ATB, "Missing Cleveland" by Scott Weiland, and also "Release Me" by Wilson Phillips. A look-alike was also included in the 2004 video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas as one of the safehouses players can buy.
In 1999, the house was declared a Los Angeles Historic-Cultural Monument. In 2007, the American Institute of Architects listed the Stahl House (#140) as one of the top 150 structures on its "America's Favorite Architecture" list, one of only eleven in Southern California, and the only privately owned home on the list.
The house was included among the ten best houses in Los Angeles in a Los Angeles Times survey of experts in December 2008.