Historic Aluminaire House To Arrive In Palm Springs

Historic Aluminaire House To Arrive In Palm Springs


PALM SPRINGS, CA – February 13, 2017: The Aluminaire House Foundation is pleased to announce that the historic 1931 Aluminaire house will arrive in Palm Springs on February 14, just in time for Modernism Week 2017. The free arrival celebration will take place at the Palm Springs Visitors Center (located at 2901 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs, formerly the 1965 Tramway Gas Station designed by Albert Frey). Showcased will be the container in which Aluminaire was shipped from New York, boldly wrapped with images of the house and architect Albert Frey – a ‘moving billboard’ across the country. The event will start at 10 a.m. and will feature short presentations by a member of the Palm Springs City Council, and two Aluminaire House Foundation Board members, Tracy Conrad, COO of Smoke Tree Ranch and owner of the historic O’Donnell House and the Willows Inn and Mark Davis, Modernism Week board member and Treasurer. After the presentations, the media and public will be invited to see a scale model of the Aluminaire house, which will be located inside the Visitors Center.

After the celebration, the container holding the house will be parked on south Palm Canyon Drive throughout Modernism Week (which runs February 16-26, 2017) and will be illuminated as part of Modernism Week’s Illuminated Modern nightly event. After Modernism Week concludes, the container will be stored in the Palm Springs City Yard. Aluminaire is one of the components included in the plans for the new Downtown Park. Once the park is completed (date to be decided) and the site for Aluminaire prepared, the home will be reassembled and opened to the public to tour.

"We are thrilled that this day has finally arrived," said Davis. "Our committee has worked passionately over the last two years to have Aluminaire shipped to Palm Springs and will continue the work required to have it displayed permanently in Palm Springs and available to the public. Now that the house has arrived in Palm Springs, we are one step closer in achieving our goal of reassembling it in a location that will be a year-round attraction and will significantly contribute to Palm Springs thriving architectural tourism focus. Once Aluminaire is reassembled, the full arc of Albert Frey’s career in America, from 1931 to 1986, can be experienced."

Additional Modernism Week events celebrating Aluminaire include an informative talk, entitled "Albert Frey’s 1931 Aluminaire House" by Professor Michael Schwarting and Associate Professor Frances Campani, both architects, who have worked tirelessly for 29 years to save Aluminaire from destruction and oblivion.  The talk, followed by a panel moderated by renowned National Public Radio journalist, Susan Stamberg, will be held on February 25 from 1:30 – 3 p.m. at the Palm Springs Art Museum Annenberg Theater.  Tickets are $12 and are available at modernismweek.com <http://modernismweek.com>.

The talk will be followed by a reception fundraiser on February 25, 2017 from 3:30 – 5:30 p.m. This exclusive afternoon reception fundraiser will be held at the iconic Siva House (Hugh M. Kaptur AIA, 1959), located high above Palm Springs on Palisades Drive and very near Albert Frey’s own ‘Frey House II.’ The reception will honor Professor Schwarting and Associate Professor Campani to thank them for their tireless work in saving Aluminaire, and special guest, NPR journalist Susan Stamberg. The event will feature hors d’oeurves by Jake’s Palm Springs, an open bar, and the latest updates about the iconic structure. Tickets for this event range from $250 – $1000 and can be purchased at modernismweek.com <http://modernismweek.com> or RSVP to mark@modernismweek.com mark@modernismweek.com>

About Aluminaire

In 1931 the Allied Arts and Industries and the Architectural League of New York unveiled the starkly modern ‘Aluminaire,’ a prefabricated aluminum and steel home intended to be mass-produced and affordable, using inexpensive, off-the-shelf materials.  It caught the attention of the public, so much that in just one week on exhibit, more than 100,000 visitors tour the home.  The three-story house, which was assembled in just ten days, was designed by A. Lawrence Kocher, the managing editor of Architectural Record, and Albert Frey, then a 28-year-old Swiss architect who had recently emigrated to America after working in Paris for the great architect Le Corbusier. It was the first all-metal prefabricated house in the United States, and of such importance in the architectural world that it was featured in the first exhibition on architecture in 1932 at New York’s Museum of Modern Art. Aluminare emboldened a new architectural movement in the United States. While intended as a display of products, Aluminaire was also an overt demonstration of bringing together the ideas of mass production and high-density community planning.

When the exhibition ended, the building was purchased by architect Wallace Harrison, who relocated it to his country estate in Huntington, Long Island. It was relocated elsewhere on the estate several times and eventually became at risk for demolition in the late 1980s. A concerned group of preservationists, led by architects Michael Schwarting and Frances Campani, saved it and arranged for it to be donated to the New York Institute of Technology on Long Island, where it was reassembled. When that campus closed, the house was again dismantled in 2012 and put into storage in New York where it languished in a shipping container.

Schwarting and Campani were invited to Modernism Week two years ago to present on Aluminaire. To an auditorium full of architectural enthusiasts, they presented their story about studying the home for more than 20 years, saving it from demolition, dismantling it once, reassembling it and then having to dismantle it yet again and put into storage, homeless. That day, an idea was hatched by a core group of ‘believers,’ who thought Palm Springs would make the perfect home.

Immediately after this, the California chapter of the non-profit Aluminaire House Foundation was registered, dedicated to raising funds to move the house to Palm Springs and reassemble it here for permanent display. This local committee, including Tracy Conrad, Mark Davis, Brad Dunning, Beth Edwards Harris and William Kopelk, began the task of raising funds and worked with the City of Palm Springs to secure a permanent location for the architecturally significant house in the new park owned by the City (this will be located directly across Museum Drive from the Palm Springs Art Museum).

Aluminaire was designated in 2016 by the influential publication, "Architectural Record" as the 30th of 125 most important works of architecture worldwide in the 125 years since the magazine’s founding in 1891.

The Aluminaire Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit registered in California and New York. For more information and to send a donation, please visit aluminaire.com