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William Krisel

William Krisel (November 14, 1924 – June 5, 2017)[1] was an American architect best known for his pioneer designs of mid-century residential and commercial architecture.[2][3] Most of his designs are for affordable homes, especially tract housing, with a modern aesthetic.

William Krisel
Born (1924-11-24)November 24, 1924
Shanghai, China
Died June 5, 2017(2017-06-05) (aged 92)
Beverly Hills, California, United States
Alma mater University of Southern California
Occupation Architect
Practice Palmer & Krisel
A William Krisel-designed home featuring a distinctive butterfly roof in Paradise Palms in Las Vegas, Nevada


Early life and educationEdit

William Krisel House in Paradise Palms, Las Vegas

Krisel was born in 1924 in Shanghai, China. He moved with his American parents to Beverly Hills, California, in 1937. His father worked as a distributor for United Artists in and brought the family back to the United States after the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War[4] He returned to China during WWII, acting as an interpreter[5].

He attended the University of Southern California and graduated in 1949.[6]


With Dan Palmer, Krisel formed Palmer & Krisel architects. Krisel designed more than 30,000 homes throughout Southern California;[7] the total number of houses and condominiums designed by the firm probably exceeds 40,000.[8] He frequently collaborated with the Alexander Construction Company. By the late 1950s, he and Palmer were working with seven out of the 10 largest homebuilders in America. In addition to Palm Springs, Los Angeles, and San Diego, large tracts of homes designed by the firm were built in Las Vegas, Florida, and Arizona.[6]

In the 1950s Krisel helped to nearly double the size of Palm Springs by building 2,500 tract homes that still exist today.[9] Beginning in 1956 with their first Palm Springs tract, Twin Palms, Krisel, the firm's lead designer for desert houses, used variation of orientation and roofline, integration of indoor and outdoor living, and careful use of standardized elements to make modernist design affordable.[10] The houses facilitated indoor-outdoor living in the desert with sheltered patios and pools and in some cases breezeways; clerestory windows improved air circulation while bringing light into the house. The interior designs included flexible room dividers to adapt the floorplan to the owners' preferences.[8]

Krisel designed the iconic Del Prado condominium tower on Balboa Park for San Diego developer Bill Starr. [11]

Del Prado Condominiums, Balboa Park, San Diego.

Krisel was a member of American Institute of Architects.[12]


The Getty Research Institute houses the William Krisel papers, 1935-2014.[2]


Krisel died June 5, 2017 at his home in Beverly Hills.[1] He was 92.


  1. ^ a b Descant, Skip; Murphy, Rosalie (June 5, 2017). "William Krisel, Southern California modern architect known for butterfly roofs, dies". The Desert Sun. 
  2. ^ a b "William Krisel papers, 1935-2014". Getty Research Institute. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  3. ^ "Union List of Artist Names". Getty Research Institute. Retrieved 9 March 2015. 
  4. ^ Roberts, Sam (2017-06-08). "William Krisel, Architect Who Found a Midcentury Niche, Dies at 92". New York Times. 
  5. ^ Descant, Skip (2017-06-05). "William Krisel, Southern California Modernist architect known for butterfly roofs, dies". Desert Sun. Retrieved 8 November 2017. 
  6. ^ a b Engel, Allison (Autumn 2012). "Modernism for the Masses". USC Trojan Family. University of Southern California. Archived from the original on 1 March 2013. 
  7. ^ Ohtake, Miyoko. "Q&A with Illustrious California Architect William Krisel". Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  8. ^ a b Budds, Diana (2 August 2016). "Why Midcentury-Modern Architecture Endures". Fast Co. 
  9. ^ Levine, Bettijane (14 February 2008). "Modern's Everyman". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 
  10. ^ Hess, Alan (2007). "Palmer and Krisel". Forgotten Modern: California Houses 1940–1970. Layton, Utah: Gibbs Smith. pp. 102–09. ISBN 9781586858582. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Singer, Mike (1 April 2011). "Palm Springs Residents Modernize Mid-Century Homes with Energy Savings and Sustainability in Mind". AIArchitect. American Institute of Architects. Retrieved 21 February 2015. 

Further informationEdit