Modernism Week

Iconic Aluminaire House will move to Palm Springs

Preservation West
The Aluminaire House, designed in 1931 by Kocher and Frey. (Jenosale/Flickr)
The Aluminaire House, designed in 1931 by Kocher and Frey. (Jenosale/Flickr)

The Aluminaire House, designed by A. Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey, will depart from storage in Long Island, NY on February 9th and travel across the country to Palm Springs, CA for Modernism Week, the annual celebration of midcentury architecture and design in Palm Springs.

Originally built as a prototype for the 1931 Allied Arts and Industries and Architectural League of New York Exhibition, the house was an early modernist exemplar for the use of off-the-shelf building materials in residential architecture. After the exhibition closed, the structure was relocated from Midtown Manhattan to the estate of architect Wallace Harrison where it remained until the late 1980s. Passing through the stewardship of several owners who altered and expanded the house, it eventually fell into disrepair and was threatened with demolition. As a result of preservation efforts by historians and architects, the structure was moved in 1987 for the fourth, and purportedly final, time to the Central Islip Campus of the New York Institute of Technology where it was fully restored.

However, its life on Long Island was relatively short lived. In 2012 the campus closed and the house was again disassembled and move into storage, out of the public’s view. Following negotiations with the City of Palm Springs, the Aluminaire House Foundation, led by Michael Schwarting, Kenneth Frampton, and Frances Campani, secured a permanent site for the house in a new downtown park which is slated for completion later this year. As such, the reassembled house will not be on display during Modernism Week, however it will be the subject of a lecture on February 25 and fundraising event later that day at the Siva House designed by Hugh Kaptur.

When the house is finally reconstructed, a permanent board of directors will take over its care and offer regular hours for public viewing. For more on Modernism Week, see its website here.

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