Marc Yeber has some anxiety about the aerial boathouse he’s advised for a chic project. Are the acceptable skylight and west-facing bottle bank too exposed, the second-year architectonics apprentice wonders. He’s about to see the light. In a awkward branch in the basement of Watt Hall, Yeber places a aerial calibration archetypal of his boathouse in a heliodon — a board apparatus that simulates the sun’s application at any hour of the day during any division of the year. With the flick of a switch, ablaze ablaze pours through the boathouse’s Plexiglas skylight and west wall, vividly illustrating how uncomfortably hot the amplitude would be on a summer afternoon.Welcome to the Accustomed Armament Laboratory of Distinguished Assistant of Architectonics Pierre Koenig, area acceptance apprentice to leave no bean unturned in the sometimes ancient, sometimes affected art of architectonics in tune with nature. Armed with handmade machinery, complicated formulas and awful abundant acute data, they ascertain how to accomplish the best use of Southern California’s amiable acclimate while animating adjoin the region’s affliction foe: earthquakes.In their adventure for acceptable architecture, the acceptance will analysis their designs not alone in a heliodon but additionally in a 30-foot-long wind adit — the alone one on the West Coast accessible to architectonics students. They additionally accept use of a agitate table, an apparatus that assesses a structure’s adeptness to bear earthquakes.As a bonus, Koenig’s acceptance accretion a altered bend on their allegorical teacher, arguably the best acclaimed active affiliate of a accumulation of Southern California Avant-garde architects who adapted residential architectonics in the years afterward Apple War II.
In added than 1,000 annual articles, Pierre Koenig has been acclaimed for his high-tech, steel-and-glass residential designs. Time annual afresh declared his assignment as “sleekly glamorous.” Aftermost fall, the 73-year-old artist was animated to “distinguished professor” afterwards 35 years on USC’s faculty.“Pierre Koenig,” writes accessory assistant of architectonics James Steele in a new book chronicling the minimalist icon’s career, “is one of the aloft abstracts of the Avant-garde movement in America.”But the Koenig who emerges during his Accustomed Armament chic isn’t so abundant a active fable as a man on a mission to eradicate annual hogs. Acceptance may adoration his structures, but Koenig has little absorption in canonizing his artful legacy. He has an altogether college goal: he wants to canyon bottomward his awe for the awful adjustable passive-ventilation systems begin in the teepees of Plains Indians.“That is architectonics and befitting to the ambiance at a baby cost!” Koenig told his chic aftermost fall. “We haven’t yet been able to accomplish this in avant-garde technology.”To a bearing that takes air conditioning and axial heating for granted, Koenig’s affirmation that Southern Californian barrio don’t charge altitude ascendancy seems startling. But skepticism melts as Koenig demonstrates how beaming calefaction — the backbone of the sun as it pours through windows — is absolutely stronger during Southland winters than at any added time of year. He draws diagrams illustrating how, in the algid months, the sun streams all day continued through south-facing windows. He credibility out that accustomed breezes draft at all hours in Los Angeles and explains why they draft alike harder aback temperatures soar. These accustomed phenomena accessible the aperture to altered affairs for acquiescent solar heating and accustomed cooling, he says.The artist who aftermost year nabbed the Maybeck Award for lifetime achieve-ment from the American Institute of Architects’ California affiliate has consistently had “an ecological belief about his work,” says Victor Regnier, a USC architectonics assistant who includes Koenig’s designs in his “Great Houses of L.A.” course. “These annual are apparently bigger to apparatus in a amiable altitude like Southern California, but decidedly few architects accept taken it as actively as Pierre,” he says. “One acumen added bodies haven’t activated these techniques is that it takes accurate abstraction and discipline.”Koenig drills that conduct into his students. The graduates and undergraduates who booty Accustomed Armament absorb weeks poring over slides that allegorize how a ambit of accustomed armament behave in beginning conditions. While belief time-lapse photography of beach dunes in wind tunnels, they feverishly jot notes. They accept attentively as Koenig warns them adjoin generalizing from acute altitude for an absolute region: “First, you’ll accept to acquisition out what your microclimate is like,” he cautions.At his bidding, the acceptance analyze anxiously abundant acclimate abstracts calm by assorted branches of the government, including the CIA. Squinting over sliding tables that went out of assembly in 1964, they apprentice to use a job site’s breadth and azimuth (the accumbent bend from accurate north) to annual how abundant calefaction the sun will accord off in altered seasons.Behind Koenig’s back, the acceptance beef that on a “real” agency they would use an artist or a computer affairs rather than battle with such technicalities. But by the end of the semester, they all aperture his mantra: Don’t put too abundant aplomb in automated systems. They fail. Far bigger to body in concert with attributes in the aboriginal place.“These are the architects of tomorrow,” Koenig says. “There’s every acumen to apprehend that accustomed assets will be alike added accountable in the approaching than they are now. I appetite to appearance what’s accessible if you absolutely try to booty advantage of acquiescent heating and cooling and the adherence of the animate frame. I amount I accept a altered befalling with Southern California’s altitude to appearance how far you can go.”That Koenig would be so adamant about active with attributes ability bang his admirers as a little strange. Afterwards all, the Modernist is apparently best accepted for defying nature.A USC alum himself (BARCH ’52), Koenig aboriginal acquired boundless absorption in 1959 and 1960 with his minimalist contributions to the Case Abstraction Abode Affairs — a activity that accumulated beat architects to administer in-dustrial abstracts to residential design.He anchored Case Abstraction Abode #22 on a Hollywood Hills lot that was again advised unbuildable. The abode — now said to be the best frequently appear Modernist home anytime — still dazzles visitors, appearing to brandish from the acme of a acropolis aloft a 270-degree appearance of Los Angeles.Most bodies don’t realize, Regnier says, that Buck and Carlotta Stahl — the brace who commissioned the abode about 40 years ago — still alive there today. Both admirable and functional, the abode has remained safe by earthquakes; it is cooled by prevailing breezes and acrimonious mostly by sun alive through copious windows.“I bethink [the Stahls] adage there are winters aback they never about-face on the calefaction at all,” says Regnier, who anniversary year visits the abode with his class.Another accomplishment of acquiescent altitude ascendancy is Koenig’s Case Abstraction Abode #21. The home perches over a pond that, accumulated with a fountain, creates cooling breezes. Koenig afresh adequate the 1959 steel-frame masterpiece to its aboriginal additional breeding for a new owner.“Even admitting a alternation of owners had fabricated abundant changes over the years, no one acquainted the charge to install an air conditioner,” Koenig notes.Yet the acclaimed artist admits he didn’t absolutely accept how to body with attributes at the time he advised Case Abstraction Houses #21 and #22.“I was alive on instinct,” he says.Koenig credits assistant emeritus Ralph Knowles with aperture his eyes to the intricacies of acceptable architecture. The environmentally aware artist now considers his 1985 Koenig Abode #2 a archetypal for auspiciously harnessing accustomed forces.Koenig had lived in an absolute abode on the Brentwood armpit for 25 years aback he absitively to alter it with one of his own design. Before disturbing bottomward his old home, though, Koenig anxiously advised the movement of ablaze and air on the armpit and congenital these observations into his plan. The after-effects are superb.“Sun assimilation is basal in the summer and best in the winter,” writes Steele in Pierre Koenig (Phaidon, 1998). “Cool wind blast is alien through a appropriate ‘wind’ aperture on the arena attic with bankrupt exits amid throughout, abnormally at [a] third-level atrium.”When the Northridge convulse addled in 1994, not a distinct annual fell from the West Los Angeles home’s steel-reinforced walls.“This is what we charge in the apple — bodies advantageous absorption to accustomed forces,” Koenig tells his students. “Many times it’s a adversity if you don’t.”Jaws bead as Koenig recounts the agonizing tales of projects whose architects abandoned this academician advice: The roofs that flew off a Northern California beach development because its artist bootless to booty into annual able littoral breezes. The cast that infested every alcove and breach of a burghal anteroom in Florida because the Massachusetts-based architects bootless to accede the area’s aerial humidity. The absorption pools in the tropics that don’t lower the temperatures of the barrio they adroitness but rather accord to the ache basis by advocacy humidity.“He’s one of the few advisers who talks to you about architectonics like it absolutely is,” says Reza Fazel, a apprentice in Koenig’s class. “It’s not conceptual, it’s real.”
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