Los Angeles is full of fantastic residential architecture in styles running all over from Spanish Colonial Revival to Streamline Moderne. But the modernist Case Study Houses, sponsored by Arts & Architecture and designed between the mid-1940s and mid-1960s, are both native to SoCal and particularly emblematic of the region (thanks in huge part to photographer Julius Shulman). The houses were intended to be relatively affordable, replicable houses for post-World War II family living, with an emphasis on "new materials and new techniques in house construction," as the magazine's program intro put it. Architects involved included the still-widely-remembered (Charles Eames, Richard Neutra) and the known-only-to-archinerds (JR Davidson, Thornton Abell).
A&A ended up commissioning 36 houses and apartment buildings; a couple dozen were built, and about 20 still stand in the greater Los Angeles area (there's also one in Northern California, a set near San Diego, and one in Phoenix), although some have been remodeled. Eleven were added to the National Register in 2013. Here's a guide to all the houses left to see (but keep in mind that, true to LA form, most are still private residences; the Eames and Stahl Houses—the two most famous Case Study Houses—are occasionally open to visitors).
As for the wonky house numbering, post-1962 A&A publisher David Travers writes that the explanation is "inexplicable, locked in the past."
"...Arriving in Southern California I found a similar inspiration in the new architecture of the Case Study House Program, and the work of Charles and Ray Eames, Craig Ellwood and Pierre Koenig. Koenig's architecture especially left an indelible impression.
"If I bring to mind what, for me, are some of the iconic images of twentieth-century architecture-light shining through the glass-block wall of the Maison de Verre, the volumetric clarity of the great workroom of Frank Lloyd Wright's Johnson Wax building, or the olympian roofscape of Le Corbusiers Unite in Marseilles-there is one image which burns more brightly and stays on the retina just that bit longer.
"I am thinking, of course, of the heroic night-time view of Pierre Koenig's Case Study House #22 which seems so memorably to capture the whole spirit of late twentieth-century architecture. There, hovering almost weightlessly above the bright lights of Los Angeles, spread out like a carpet below, is an elegant, light, economical and transparent enclosure whose apparent simplicity belies the rigorous process of investigation that made it possible. If I had to choose one snapshot, one architectural moment, of which I would like to have been the author, this is surely it.
"As both image and artefact, Case Study House #22 has long been a touchstone for contemporary architects, and Pierre Koenig's career-to which his wider body of work bears witness-is one of constancy, and truth to principles.
"Pierre Koenig, like his architecture, is inspirational: still enquiring, exploring and inventing, never ready to rest on his laurels. I am very pleased to be able to celebrate with him the publication of this book and to share in his enthusiasm and curiosity for building yet to come."
Norman Foster, in the foreword of Pierre Koenig, by James Steele, David Jenkins, 1998, p5.
The Creator's Words
"Industry has not learned the difference between what is beautiful in its simplicity and what is ugly although equally simple...."
"The pressure is so great that the architect is a captive. He functions best as a free agent."
Pierre Koenig. from Esther McCoy. Case Study Houses 1945-1962. p118.
In Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, at 1636 Woods Drive
area of house: 2300 square feet