A Boulder As A Room Divider?

Yes, it’s been done beautifully at the Frey House II in Palm Springs!
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Architect Alpert Frey designed this unique home for himself in 1963. He is considered the elder statesman of Palm Springs Architecture. Born in Zurich in 1903, he developed an interest in architecture. However he was not interested in designing in the style of the day, Beaux Artes. He was looking for a different way to express form. Early in his career he discovered Le Corbusier’s book “Towards A New Architecture” which would form his ideas about form and structure. He eventually worked for the famous Corbusier. Interested in American technology, he immigrated here in 1930. He immediately found work with A.Lawrence Kocher the editor of Architectural Record. He came to the Desert in 1934, to design an office and apartment for Kocher’s brother, who was the only doctor in town. Eventually, Frey settled in the Desert and loved the light and air just like many who come here and stay.
Frey designed specifically for the Desert. Chris Sahlin, AIA states it well. “Some architects who worked in the Desert used the same home designs that they used in other subdivisions in the San Fernando Valley, but Albert Frey built in ways specific to the Desert. Some of his buildings are put together, in fact, the way desert succulents grow, with one organic piece added atop of another. Frey’s own house is like that: It’s anchored in a rock base, part of the earth, with a very light structure atop that lives on its own, rising out of the ground, the way a living desert cactus would grow out of the rock.”
Frey house II sits at the end of a very steep road. I was a little frightened in the shuttle bus going around hairpin turns with no guard rails in sight. But, the ride was worth it! The house seems to float on air and has commanding views of the valley below. It is a very peaceful, serene place with a little swagger thrown in.
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As a designer, I was impressed with the color pallate inspired by what he saw outside. The ceiling is a calm turquoise blue and the curtains are bright yellow inspired by the encilia flowers that bloom adjacent to the home. Every detail was thought out from storage solutions to how the home was sited. He took a year to document the movement of the sun so that the house would be warm in the winter and cool in the summer.
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Tours of this architectural gem are held during Modernism Week in February each year. I would recommend checking the website in the fall to secure your ticket. They always sell out and they always go fast. www.modernismweek.com
I could write much more about this architect and his life, he was quite the bon vivant, but I’ll save that for another blog. Who is your favorite Desert architect? Till next time…

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