Pierre Koenig – a closer look

American born Pierre Koenig (1925 – 2004), son of French-German descent parents, built his first house in Glendale, CA, while in his third year studying architecture at the University of Southern California, using industrial material steel. Instead of looking for support from Richard Neutra who at his time the doyen of SoCal architects, he turned instead to another USC graduate, Raphael Soriano.

In 1950, the same year he built his first house, Koenig worked as a draftsman for Raphael Soriano, who shared his interest in steel, doing the presentation renderings for Soriano’s unnumbered Case Study House. Koenig subsequently worked for brief periods for Candreva and Jarrett, Edward H. Fickett, Kistner, Wright and Wright, and finally in 1956 for Jones and Emmons, on the Eichler X-100 steel model. Also in this period, Koenig began a short-lived furniture business, designing and building modern case goods.

John Entenza invited him in 1957 to participate in Art and Architecture’s Case Study House Program. With their steel construction, open-planning, and emphasis on the unity of nature and architecture, two steel houses in his beginning portfolio exemplified the California aesthetic as being different from East Coast Modernism, most notably the STAHL HOUSE.

After this early recognition, Koenig went on to have a long and prolific career as an architect, designing and building over forty-three steel and glass houses.

Throughout his long years of architectural practice, Koenig never relinquished the principles that led him to design and build his first house. He retained a sense of mission, never losing his commitment to the social agenda of Modernism. He truly believed that he could make people’s lives better through architecture.

Koenig’s work has had a tremendous impact on contemporary architects worldwide. He was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects in 1971 and named an Honorary Fellow of the Royal Institute of British Architects in 2000.

For more information please visit the Los Angeles Conservancy website at www.laconservancy.org/architects/pierre-koenig