Modernism for the Masses

Fifty years ago William Krisel helped shape the look of modern design that has become synonymous with Southern California. By building 2,500 tract homes and nearly doubling the size of Palm Springs in the 1950s, the architect brought modernism to the masses.

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A new show at MODAA is bringing some well-deserved recognition to an architect whose name often seems to slip through the cracks when compared to such notables as Eichler and Neutra. Not only did Krisel help shape Palm Springs, his affordable tract homes also brought communities into the San Fernando Valley. He redefined the idea of mass-produced housing, taking public perception from stuffy and nondescript to something modern.

Invited by developer Bob Alexander, Krisel found a niche in the booming housing market by creating modestly-scaled family homes that featured butterfly roofs and other hallmarks of Post and Beam–style architecture, a style previously accessible only to the American upper class.

Images via Julius Shulman / Ps Modcom and Don Bartletti / Los Angeles Times

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