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  • Arizona Contractor & Community

Aluminaire House Finds Permanent Home at Palm Springs Art Museum

The Aluminaire House Foundation announced that it has donated the historic Aluminaire House to Palm Springs Art Museum to be part of the museum's permanent collection. The historically significant aluminum and metal prototype residence, designed by Albert Frey and A. Lawrence Kocher in 1931, will soon be located outside on the grounds of the museum. Pending final approvals from the City of Palm Springs, assembling the structure will begin in 2021.

"Palm Springs Art Museum has a long tradition of honoring Albert Frey, so donating the Aluminaire to be a part of their world-class collection was an obvious choice," said Aluminaire House Foundation, California Chapter member Mark Davis. "We are thrilled that this structure, which we brought to Palm Springs three years ago, will soon be reassembled with private funds raised by the Aluminaire House Foundation, and be on permanent display outside of the museum."

The Aluminaire House is considered a masterpiece of modernist design, recently listed by Architectural Record as one of the most important buildings completed worldwide in the past 125 years. New York architects Michael Schwarting and Frances Campani worked diligently for more than 25 years to save, protect and document Aluminaire, and formed the Aluminaire House Foundation to locate a suitable permanent home for the structure. Once Aluminaire is reassembled, the full arc of Albert Frey's career in America, from 1931 until his death in 1998 in Palm Springs, may be experienced in the city and at the museum.

"The Aluminaire House is an excellent addition to our robust Albert Frey collection, which also includes Frey House II (1963-64), the residence the architect lived in until his death in 1998," said Steve Maloney, Chair of Palm Springs Art Museum's Board of Trustees. "We are honored that the Aluminaire House Foundation chose to donate this important work to Palm Springs Art Museum so that we can present it to the public. We look forward to celebrating the next chapter of this essential Palm Springs architect who is so strongly associated with bringing international modernism to the desert."

Frey's connection with the museum dates back to its origin; his firm co-designed the original Palm Springs Desert Museum, and he served as a member and president of the board of trustees. Frey generously bequeathed his archive of drawings, personal and working papers, photographs, scrapbooks, and other documents—along with his Frey House II residence, which sits on the hillside above the museum.

"While Albert Frey, who is called the father of 'Desert Modernism,' brought International Style to Palm Springs and enjoyed acclaimed fame, he remained less known in his own home country, Switzerland," says Benedikt Wechsler, PhD, Consul General of Switzerland in San Francisco. "It is exciting to see the Aluminaire House find a permanent home at Palm Springs Art Museum, and this project is a testimonial to Frey's practice and important legacy."

In conjunction with the reassembly of The Aluminaire House, Palm Springs Art Museum is organizing a major Albert Frey exhibition for 2021-2022, which will be presented at the Museum's Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion. It will be accompanied by a major publication that features archival materials from the museum's collection, including a newly donated selection of Frey archival materials that will be presented and published for the first time.


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