clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Influential modern architect William Krisel has died

New, 3 comments

The architect designed tens of thousands of economical tract homes across Southern California

Woman by pool in front of Palmer/Krisel home Courtesy of Getty Research Institute

Fans of brightly colored doors and whimsical rooflines, lament. Pioneering Southern California architect William Krisel has died, The Desert Sun reports.

The pragmatic modernist designed more than 40,000 homes over the course of his long career, according to the Los Angeles Conservancy. About three-quarters of those homes can be found in Southern California.

Krisel partnered with architect Dan Palmer from 1950 to 1966, and the pair became famous for developing popular tract houses in Palm Springs, in collaboration with the prolific Alexander Construction Company.

The 2,000 or so homes the pair designed in Palm Springs have similar floor plans, but vary significantly in their outward appearance due to a menu of playful roof lines, concrete breeze blocks, and ornamental features the designers employed in their construction.

A signature feature of Palmer and Krisel’s homes became the butterfly roof, which juts upward on either side of the house, resembling a pair of wings.

William Krisel at an event Photo by ANDREAS BRANCH/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

Following their success in Palm Springs, the pair designed similar tracts throughout the Southland, including Corbin Palms in Woodland Hills and the Living-Conditioned Homes in Northridge.

Krisel later partnered with Abraham Shapiro, and the two collaborated on several notable projects, including the glassy Fidelity Federal Savings and Loan (now US Bank) building in Glendale.

Sadly, the architect’s longtime home in Brentwood was sold in 2014 to a supposedly preservation-minded buyer who promptly demolished the house.

Krisel died at his home in Beverly Hills, according to the Desert Sun. He was 92.

Update: A tipster tells us that director Jake Gorst has opened up free streaming to his documentary on Krisel for the next two weeks. Enjoy!