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Pierre Koenig papers and drawings, 1925-2007

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Koenig (Pierre) papers

Scope and Content of Collection

The Pierre Koenig papers and drawings contain the archive of this Los Angeles architect best-known for his work in steel and participation in the Case Study House Program. Consisting of drawings, photographs and slides, documents, client correspondence, and three models, the archive provides in-depth information about Koenig's 50-year career. The archive is an important resource for the study of Southern California Modernism, as well as for the study of pre-fabrication in housing in the United States.

The Pierre Koenig archive documents an extremely important chapter in post-war American domestic architecture: the development of post-and-beam structures that could be constructed for a reasonable price. Before the war, European architects, such as Walter Gropius, Konrad Wachsmann, and J.J.P. Oud, had sought to mass-produce housing from standardized, pre-fabricated components. Koenig's work can be seen to a certain extent as a continuation of this quest. Following the Second World War, many well-known architects, such as Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Buckminster Fuller, Raphael Soriano, and Jean Prouvé, addressed the enormous need for good, but inexpensive housing. Yet Koenig's work differed significantly from theirs. This is largely due to how deeply his work is rooted in the architecture of Southern California. Koenig formed his style by melding the aesthetics of Charles and Henry Greene's and Rudolf Schindler's Asian-inspired, wood-frame residences, which incorporated indoor and outdoor living through modular planning; the pre-fabricated modular components advanced in Frank Lloyd Wright's textile concrete block homes built in the early 1920s and Richard J. Neutra's unprecedented domestic use of steel frame construction in the Lovell Health House of 1929. It is also due to his commitment to steel as a material. Koenig stands out from his contemporaries for his use of steel not only for the structural skeletons of his houses, but for their walls and roofs as well. John Entenza's Arts and Architecture magazine brought the idea of steel residential construction to the mainstream through the Case Study House Program of 1945 to 1963, which promoted modern, indoor-outdoor California living through innovative steel-frame design and construction. Although, Koenig was one of the youngest architects included in the Case Study House Program, the editors of Arts and Architecture considered Koenig's Case Study House #21 (the Bailey Residence, 1959) the program's quintessential example of an affordable, modest-sized, single-family home.

Records and drawings relating to Pierre Koenig's architectural projects form Series I, the core of the archive. With over 2,000 original and reproduction drawings, the archive is very complete. More than eighty executed and unexecuted building projects, including all of Koenig's major houses, such as Case Study Houses #21 and #22, the Johnson House in Carmel Valley, CA (1962), the Iwata House in Monterey Park, CA (1963), the Gantert House in Los Angeles (1983), and the Schwartz House in Santa Monica (1996), are represented in the archive. A particularly interesting project is the Chemehuevi Indian Reservation Planning Program, sponsored by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development. Koenig and his USC students designed pre-fabricated steel homes for the reservation located near Havasu Lake in San Bernardino County, California, but the project was never built.

The two subsequent series record other aspects of Koenig's professional life. Series II is comprised of Koenig's teaching materials and documentation of his administrative role at the University of Southern California, School of Architecture. Koenig took his teaching seriously. He was very conscious of the fact that he was training the next generation of architects and proud of the fact that he had supervised over 100 student research projects investigating the interaction of structures and the natural environment. Series III is comprised of all the other materials, aside from the individual project files, relating to Koenig's role as an architect, such as his office files and reference files. Koenig was active in interpreting and publicizing his work, and he also maintained documentation of others citing his work in a variety of media from clippings to exhibitions to videos.

Series IV is comprised of Pierre Koenig's personal papers. His college class projects trace Koenig's emerging development as an architect and the extensive documentation of his early military service helps place his personal development. The memorials marking Koenig's death in 2004 are documented in the final series of the archive.

Arrangement

Arranged in five series: .
Series I. Project records, 1950-2004;
Series II. Faculty papers, 1961-2004;
Series III.Other professional papers, 1945-2007;
Series IV. Personal papers, 1925-2004;
Series V. In memoriam, 2004




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