Palmer and Krisel homes dot the Southern California landscape from Orange County to Palm Springs to San Diego. The homes are iconic; the epitome of mid-century modern design.
The Men Behind the Design
Dan Saxon Palmer was born in Hungary and emigrated to the United States with his family while he was young. Palmer earned a B.A. in Architecture at New York University in 1942. He served as a mapmaker, draftsman and photographer in WWII before he was able to pursue his trade.
William Krisel was born in Shanghai to American parents. His father worked for the State Department in China. Krisel traveled back to the U.S. with his family and graduated from High School at 16. He then served as a Chinese-language interpreter for Army Intelligence during WWII. On the GI Bill Krisel studied architecture at USC, graduating in 1949 and obtaining his license in 1950.
Palmer and Krisel formed their architectural partnership in 1950. The pair started out designing custom homes but soon moved into the Southern California tract home industry. The firm partnered with various developers, including Alexander Construction Company, through which Palmer and Krisel completed their first major tract “Corbin Palms,” Woodland Hills in 1955.
Together, Palmer and Krisel built over 20,000 homes in Southern California. As time went on, Krisel oversaw the San Diego and Riverside Counties while Palmer managed the Orange and Ventura County developments. In 1964 they dissolved their partnership but remained friends. Each went their separate ways and continued to produce beautiful designs including apartments, commercial buildings and more residential tracts.
Palmer and Krisel homes were built in true mid-century modern style. The pair built homes that were affordable but had lasting style. Their houses featured post and beam construction, expansive glass windows, minimalistic landscaping and carports that make a statement.
Palmer and Krisel’s homes benefited from Krisel’s landscape architecture license, earned in 1954. Their designs seamlessly integrated the environment surrounding the structure. The windows and glass walls connect the indoors to the outdoors.
Their minimal exteriors boast some of the most iconic design lines, or “rooflines”. Palmer and Krisel championed the butterfly roof, one of their most famous design elements. The butterfly roof is particularly iconic of Palm Springs, and began popping up in others’ designs throughout the area. Although Palmer and Krisel often are credited for thinking up the butterfly roof as they incorporated the feature in many of their tracts, they did not invent the concept in fact.
Palmer and Krisel’s Work Today
The revival in mid-century modern design has brought about attention from younger homebuyers, interested in keeping the authenticity of these houses and making them their own through sensitive restorations. These iconic houses are getting the recognition they deserve, again.
William Krisel himself has enjoyed the revival. The architect has participated in renovations of Palmer and Krisel homes. In 2008 Krisel worked with Maxx Livingstone to produce exact replicas of his MCM designs, using new materials towards the goal of obtaining LEED certification. Additionally, Krisel has gone an extra step in preserving his architecture firm’s legacy by donating his archive to the Getty Research Institute.
Interested in getting into your own Palmer and Krisel mid-century modern home? Get in touch with us and we’ll help you find your own Palmer and Krisel MCM paradise.
Sarah Roullard Le
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