Above photo: Case Study House #9. Photo: Julius Shulman / Getty Archives
Sponsored by Arts & Architecture magazine the Case Study Houses were experiments in residential architecture initiated as a response to the growing need for housing in post-World War II America. At the end of the war millions of soldiers were returning home and the need to address the increased demand in housing prompted many organizations and corporations to come up possible solutions to the housing problem. John Entenza, editor of Arts & Architecture magazine commissioned major architects of the day, including Richard Neutra, A. Quincy Jones, Craig Ellwood, Charles and Ray Eames, Pierre Koenig, and Eero Saarinen to design and build inexpensive and efficient model homes.
The program announcement stated that, “Each house must be capable of duplication and in no sense be an individual ‘performance’… It is important that the best material available be used in the best possible way in order to arrive at a ‘good’ solution of each problem, which in the overall program will be general enough to be of practical assistance to the average American in search of a home in which he can afford to live.”
The Case Study Program ran from 1945 until 1966 with the first six houses being built by 1948. These first houses attracted more than 350,000 visitors and captured the public’s imagination by introducing new ideas about how they might live in the future. Of the 36 Case Study House designs 26 were built, mostly in California with one in Arizona. As the program progressed it veered away from its original intent of designing low cost, mass housing concepts to more academic exercises in architectural process and experimentation. The last Case Study House to be built was #28, located in Thousand Oaks, California and was designed by Buff and Hensman in 1966.
Putting his money where his mouth was Arts & Architecture’s editor John Entenza commissioned Eero Saarinen and Charles Eames to design a Case Study home for him. To be located next door to the home of Charles and Ray Eames (Case Study House #8) in Pacific Palisades, California, the Entenza House would become Case Study House #9. Bearing many similarities to Eames’ previous work with his own house, CSH #9 utilized many of the same materials and building approach. One of the first to use steel framing the design of CSH #9 is essentially a steel-framed glass box with massive floor to ceiling windows. John Entenza – who claimed to have no concerns over privacy – was a man who also liked to entertain and insisted upon a flexible, open plan that offered seamless indoor to outdoor zones.
Completed in 1950 Case Study House #9 is often overshadowed by the fame of its neighbor #8 and the famous couple that lived there. It’s not a star like the Stahl House, #22 and not as lauded for its design ‘purity’ like the Baily House, #21B but it is, perhaps, the closest the Case Study experiment came to realizing its initial goal of building livable, well-designed and – most importantly – accessible homes to the average consumer.
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