Albert Frey and A. Lawrence Kocher’s Aluminaire House opens as permanent exhibit in Palm Springs

Albert Frey and A. Lawrence Kocher’s Aluminaire House has finally been reassembled and installed in Palm Springs, California. After a two-year long fundraising campaign and an assembly period that took several months, the all-metal housing prototype appears to be quite at home at the Palm Springs Art Museum.

As previously reported by AN the avant-garde structure debuted in New York City in 1931 as part of a show held by the Allied Arts and Industries and the Architectural League of New York. It was later reinstalled in Long Island as a private residence and then placed on the New York Institute of Technology’s campus.

aluminare house with fencing
The Aluminaire House has been reassembled on the south parking lot of the Palm Springs Art Museum. (Benny Chan)

The reflective structure, 1,200-square-feet in size, is largely defined by its rectangular form faced with thin columns and large spans of glazing across each of its three levels. Los Angeles–based architecture firm Marmol Radziner worked closely with board members at the Palm Springs Art Museum to facilitate the structure’s re-exhibition and renovation work. Installing the house on its new site in the museum’s south parking lot involved pouring a new concrete foundation. HVAC equipment was upgraded, notably adding air conditioning—a necessity now that the building resides in a desert climate.

Visitors can’t enter the interiors of the house, but they can peer through the large windows flanking the reflective walls and closely examine the siding materials, a collage of sheet metal, plate glass, steel beams, and linoleum. This innovative use of materials was groundbreaking for its time and integral to Frey’s studies into the design and construction of mass-produced, affordable housing.

aluminaire house
Visitors can’t enter the residence, but can peer into the large, garage-style windows. (Benny Chan)

With the Aluminaire House now open at the Palm Springs Art Museum, it’s a full circle moment for the structure built as a residential prototype. It was constructed in just 10 days as part of an exhibition on the International Style. And now, decades later, it will be perpetually on-view.

sunset view of Aluminaire House
An exhibition profiling the work of Albert Frey coincides with the house’s re-exhibition. (Benny Chan)

The opening of the Aluminaire House coincides with a retrospective about Albert Frey. On-view at the museum’s Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion, the exhibition compiles seminal work by the Swiss architect, among this, the large number of commercial and residential projects Frey designed around Palm Springs.

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