Southern California Real Estate and Neighborhoods

William Krisel, Master of Desert Mid-Century Modernism, Passes Away

William Krisel, Master of Desert Mid-Century Modernism, Passes Away

Krisel was instrumental in bringing mid-century modernism to the desert, which has since become the areas signature style.

Krisel, along with his business partner Dan Saxon Palmer, were key figures in bringing mid-century design principles – like post and beam construction, open floor plans and using windows to bring the outside in – to the masses through their work on homes for the middle class.

“They brought excellent and elegant modern design to mass-produced housing,” Hess said in a 2008 interview with The Times. “That’s significant because every big name in modern architecture at midcentury tried to crack into the mass-produced housing market. And they all failed. Palmer and Krisel, who weren’t at all well-known, solved the problem.”

The key to building mid-century style homes for the middle class was using “newer, less-expensive materials and with easily replicated cookie-cutter fixtures such as lighting, doors and windows.”

Working with Alexander Construction Co., Krisel and Palm designed and built over 2,500 tract homes through the desert. Their other notable projects in the desert include the Ocotillo Lodge and the “House of Tomorrow,” which later served as Elvis Presley’s honeymoon hideway.

The Krisel Palmer partnership dissolved in 1964, but Krisel continued to work across the southland on a variety of projects. Even in his twilight years, he advised homeowners about renovating their Krisel designed homes. In 2006, he even saw a new development come to be based on his old plans, but using  green technology .

“Midcentury Modernism is not a style, it’s a language,” Krisel said in 2006. “It stays the same whether it’s spoken in 1955 or 2005. It’s a language that will always be spoken.”

Architect William Krisel, who influenced the look of midcentury Palm Springs, dies at 92

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