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Event: 'Wexler Weekend' focuses on Palm Springs Modernist architect

January 21, 2010 |  4:10 pm
Steel B Marshall

Donald Wexler, one of the innovative architects who define the midcentury desert modern look, will be celebrated at the the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation's"Wexler Weekend" event starting Friday.

Wexler's work included projects for celebrities such as Dinah Shore and Frank Sinatra. He is particularly notable for an enclave in the north end of Palm Springs that includes the 1962 butterfly-roofed Steel house, shown above. It is one of seven prefabricated steel structures designed as an alternative to wood frame construction for the developer, George Alexander Homes. The houses featured floor-to-ceiling sliders and fixed windows and could be assembled in three days. The 1962 price: $13,000 to $17,000. 

DonWexler2jpg Wexler -- shown here in a vintage photograph at the original Palm Springs airport, which he designed in 1965 -- worked briefly in the Los Angeles office of Richard Neutra before moving to the desert in the early 1950s. In a career spanning five decades, he designed more than 200 structures including schools, office buildings, a country club and the tract houses of Rancho Vista Estate. 

A tour of Wexler-designed homes on Saturday (including the 1960 residence of Lynda Keeler and Bob Merlis that was featured in Home in September 2006) is already sold out. There are still $35 tickets available, however, for a Sunday morning viewing of the Steel houses. 

Wexler will be attending the festivities, which also include a screening of the documentary "Journeyman Architect: The Life and Work of Donald Wexler" on Friday, and his 84th birthday brunch on Saturday.

For schedule and ticket information, click here.

-- David A. Keeps

Photo credits: Steel house by Barbara Marshall, portrait from the Wexler family archives

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