The Aluminaire House was called a masterpiece of Modernism when it was created 86 years ago as a demonstration in "modern living."
More recently, it was called "the most hated house in New York": Residents in the Queens neighborhood of Sunnyside were outraged at plans to move the house there in 2013, the New York Post reported.
But the 1,200-square-foot house will soon be coming west to its new permanent home: Palm Springs, where it will arrive in pieces by Valentine's Day, just in time for that city's Modernism Week.
The house has been disassembled and reassembled numerous times since its initial appearance in architectural exhibitions around New York. It became a weekend home on Long Island for decades, fell into disrepair and wound up in storage in a warehouse in 2012. Preservationists formed the Aluminaire House Foundation to save it. They tried to find a place to put it in New York, but failing that, turned to the city of Palm Springs, which is well known as a home for modernist design.
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Palm Springs agreed to take it, and the house is now on a truck heading across country to California, where it will go on display next week and become the centerpiece of an effort to raise funds to restore it and open it to the public.
It will eventually be reassembled one last time (it is hoped) adjacent to a new downtown park and near the Palm Springs Art Museum sometime next year.
The house was designed by A. Lawrence Kocher, managing editor of Architectural Record, and Albert Frey, 28, a Swiss architect who trained with Le Corbusier, and exhibited by the 1931 Allied Arts and Industries and the Architectural League of New York. The following year it was also part of the first exhibition of architecture at the Museum of Modern Art in Manhattan. (Frey moved to Palm Springs himself in 1934 and practiced there until his death in 1998.)
The cubic three-story house is made of steel and aluminum and has five rooms on six columns. Un-anodized narrow-ribbed aluminum panels sheath the exterior walls, which are broken by expanses of glass and a third floor terrace.
According to the Aluminaire House Foundation:
The Aluminaire House demonstrates many principles of functional Modernist architecture including using inexpensive, off-the-shelf materials; simple, unadorned interiors; easy construction methodology; strong geometry and a minimalist aesthetic.
“It will be one jewel of many that we already have in Palm Springs," Mark Davis, a member of the California-based committee that brought the house to Palm Springs, told the New York Post. “[New York’s] loss was our gain. Now it’s being appreciated.”
- Modernist prefab gem begins its journey from New York to Palm Springs [Curbed NY]
- Palm Springs Wants to Adopt NY's All-Metal Modernist House [Curbed LA]