William Krisel’s Palm Springs: The Language of Modernism
by Chris Menrad and Heidi Creighton ; photography by permission of Gibbs Smith.
Leafing through this long-deserved
volume on William Krisel, AIA, is uplifting for the display of work and spirit,
and heartwarming for this writer recalling how lucky I’d been to spend just a
bit of time with Bill and his wife, Corrine. I revere Bill and Corrine. I love
Krisel’s work. I’m grateful for this book.
with Krisel’s emphatic declaration “I am not a modern architect,” the book
reveals his passion for real work for real people. His resistance to style and
adherence to his philosophies refreshingly come not from ego, but from
principle in service to people. He is a model architect.
by many scholars familiar to SAH/SCC—including Alan Hess, Wim de Wit, Jake
Gorst, SAH/SCC member Barbara Lamprecht, and our very own SAH/SCC President
Sian Winship—approach the subject from various angles. Some essays are on the
language of Krisel’s work and his everyday modernism, while others are about
typologies or individual projects.
for an Extraordinary Career” is the biographical essay tracing Krisel’s unusual
international upbringing, his wartime experience, USC architecture school, early
work with Victor Gruen, FAIA, and the founding of several namesake firms.
Throughout, one sees how his principles emerged. Recalling his time in the
military, Krisel says: “I met men from all over the USA and from all walks of
life…all of which I had not previously experienced. From this experience I
became even more dedicated to creating well-designed modern homes for the
down-to-earth, populist outlook helped establish his practice as “one of the
few firms in the nation that managed to bridge the worlds of architectural high
design, merchant builders, and homebuyers,” writes Winship. Given Krisel’s
life-long dedication to creating for the everyday person, it’s fitting that the
book itself was instigated by two Krisel homeowners.
the book is replete with wonderful photos that capture the work in time, but
also convey its timelessness. Plans, brochures, ads, and other ephemera are
also on display. But the drawings truly captivate, and—as described by de Wit—“show
a total joy of producing” and “express a feeling of excitement.”
Gorst in “William Krisel, An Everyday Modernist”: “There is a movement to
document the work of twentieth-century architects who worked hard and touched
the lives of large populations, but who had little desire for fame. This
history is being recounted with a human touch.” This book is a great step
forward in documenting an architect with a particularly human touch.
Gibbs Smith; 224
pages; hardcover; $45.
—Julie D. Taylor, Hon. AIA/LA