The Bailey House or Case Study House #21 was the creation of architect Pierre Koenig and begun in 1958. Located near Fryman Canyon Park and the famous Mulholland Drive, the Bailey House is a tour de force of mid-century architecture, although Case Study House #22 is more well known.
Koenig was renowned for his adherence to the International Style and his metal framed buildings. The Bailey House exhibits his concepts of a modern, open plan, built with inexpensive modern materials and designed to be affordable, yet quite liveable. This house was meant to be a prototype in which to use for construction of small, beautiful, yet simple to build dwellings.
The Case Study House Program came about by John Entenza, publisher of Arts and Architecture magazine, as an anticipation for the coming demand for new homes after the Great Depression and the end of World War II. He wanted architects to develop prototypes as useful models for builders and developers based upon certain criteria such as simplicity and affordability.
Pierre Koenig was born in San Francisco in 1925. His family moved to Los Angeles in 1939 and later he served in the Army during World War II. After completion of his military duties he attended the University of Utah, then Pasadena College, and graduated finally from the University of Southern California in 1952. He studied under Richard Neutra and Gregory Ain, both strong adherents of the International Style. During his many years of practice as an architect, he taught at the University of Southern California and received recognition as Distinguished Alumni and Distinguished Professor.
The Bailey house was commissioned by a Psychologist and his wife, who wanted a small, modernist house with an open floor plan. Undeterred by Koenig’s use of steel frames and his penchant for the rectilinear, the Baileys very much anticipated Koenig’s design.
One unique aspect of the Bailey house is the use of water. Not only are pools of water around the house for evaporative cooling, but the house is oriented along a north/south axis to take advantage of the natural environment for cooling and heating. During the hottest part of the year, water is pumped from the pool onto the roof gutters to fall through scuppers and cool and aerate the water which returns to the pool. The sides of the house that face the street are without glass. Whereas, the sides not in view of the street are filled with glass walls.
Aesthetically, the Bailey House enthusiastically embraces the International Style’s emphasis of exposing the frame of the building. The walls painted white, while the steel support remains the dark powder grey of the original coating, speaks loudly to this design point.
It is remarkable that this house was built for $20,000 and yet recently sold for near $3.2 million.
The beauty of this house is the simplicity of a rectangular form surrounding a central core. Its’ openness and airiness certainly commands a sense of lightness and a greater volume than the actual square footage. The Bailey House is the epitome of Mid Century Modern architecture International Style.