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Reviving A Modernist Masterpiece: The Aluminaire House Finds New Home at Palm Springs Art Museum

Posted on 
July 26, 2023

Reviving Modernist Masterpiece: The Aluminaire House Finds New Home at Palm Springs Art Museum

The Palm Springs Art Museum is set to host a hybrid “Ask Me Anything Aluminaire” event to discuss its new permanent exhibit, the Aluminaire House.

Originally built in 1931, the Aluminaire House was the first all-aluminum prefabricated house in the U.S. and is recognized as a masterpiece of modernist design. The event, featuring museum CEO Adam Lerner and board trustee Leo Marmol, will delve into the house's history and its significance for visitors.

The Aluminaire House was designed by Albert Frey and A. Lawrence Kocher and was intended to be mass-produced using affordable materials. Attracting over 100,000 visitors in its first week on exhibit, it is notable for being the first all-metal house built in the U.S. The Palm Springs Art Museum will reconstruct this architectural icon in a prominent location on its grounds.

Aluminarie House rendering from The Palm Springs Art Museum.

History of the Aluminaire House:

From: https://www.psmuseum.org/visit/aluminaire

"The Aluminaire House Foundation has gifted the Aluminaire House to the Palm Springs Art Museum as a part of their permanent collection. The now iconic masterpiece of modernist design will be reconstructed in a prominent location, where the south parking lot of the Museum currently is, at the corner of W. Tahquitz Way and Museum Way.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.

Watch the Aluminaire House™ come to life again

Swiss-born architect Albert Frey (1903-1998), arguably the most significant architect to have worked in the Palm Springs region of California, established the style of architecture that has become known as “desert modernism.”

Having trained with Le Corbusier amongst a group of international colleagues, Frey brought a European sensibility when he came to New York and began collaborating with the American architect A. Lawrence Kocher in 1930. Over a period of roughly five years, the two made significant contributions to the American modernist movement, including the creation in 1931 of Aluminaire House, the now iconic masterpiece of modernist design which has been recently donated to Palm Springs Art Museum.

In 1931, the Allied Arts and Industries and the Architectural League of New York unveiled the starkly modern, all metal ‘Aluminaire’ home, constructed mostly of aluminum and glass components. It was intended to be mass-produced and affordable, using inexpensive, off-the-shelf materials. Aluminaire caught the attention of the public so much that in just one week on exhibit, more than 100,000 visitors toured the home.

The three-story house, assembled in just ten days, was designed by A. Lawrence Kocher, the managing editor of Architectural Record, and the then 28-year-old Swiss architect Albert Frey, who had recently immigrated to America after working in Paris for the great architect Le Corbusier. It was the first all-metal house constructed in the United States, and of such importance in the architectural world that images of it were featured in the prestigious exhibition, “The International Style – Architecture Since 1922” at New York’s Museum of Modern Art in 1932."

What NBC has to say about it:

PALM SPRINGS (CNS) – The Palm Springs Art Museum will host a hybrid “Ask Me Anything Aluminaire” event Thursday to give art enthusiasts an opportunity to learn more about its new permanent exhibit.

“Aluminaire House is being permanently installed on museum grounds starting this summer,” museum officials said in a statement. “It was originally constructed in 1931 as the first all-aluminum prefabricated house in the U.S. and is now considered a masterpiece of modernist design.”

The informational event will be held at 6 p.m. Thursday at the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Annenberg Theater, 101 Museum Drive, according to a statement from the museum. The event will also be live-streamed through a link available upon purchase at psmuseum.org.

Throughout the evening — which will feature a panel with museum CEO Adam Lerner and board trustee Leo Marmol of Marmol Radziner — attendees will learn the history and importance of the Aluminaire House, museum officials said. Chief education and community engagement officer of the museum Luisa Heredia will moderate the panel.

Attendees will also learn about how the new installation will be experienced by museum visitors, according to museum officials.

Tickets for the event or for the live-stream can be purchased at store.psmuseum.org/ama-aluminaire/.



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