Posts tagged with "Joseph Eichler":

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Developers revive Eichler design for Palm Springs development

Late American real estate developer Joseph Eichler’s blueprints of a 1960 tract-housing design by architects Anshen + Allen were resurrected during February’s Modernism Week in Palm Springs, California, when modern-day developer and broker KUD Properties unveiled only the second home from these plans to be built after Eichler’s death in 1974 (KUD Properties revealed the first around the same time last year). Dubbed a “Desert Eichler,” the show house embodies the signature modernist features that led to Eichler’s cult following—and that are decidedly well-suited for the Southern California climate: The open floor plan is framed by walls of floor-to-ceiling glass, which maximize the home’s exposure to the sunlight and open air. 

“His hallmark is the interior courtyard that looks into the other rooms,” said KUD president Troy Kudlac, explaining a key element of Eichler’s contemporary appeal. “It offers both the simplicity and experience of indoor-outdoor living.”

With fellow agent and Eichler enthusiast Monique Lombardelli, Kudlac acquired the licensing to build an entire Palm Springs neighborhood’s worth of Eichler homes, each of which will be updated slightly to comply with contemporary specifications. Kudlac and his wife, Amy, furnished the recently completed show house with Carl Hansen & Søn, a producer of furniture by Eichler’s Danish contemporaries like Hans J. Wegner and Frits Henningsen.

“We found that Eichler and Danish design vibe really well,” Kudlac said. Despite the geographic distance, Eichler’s own embrace of minimalism matched a similar trend in Scandinavia. Carl Hansen & Søn also adopted the ethos of reduction and tidiness but expressed it in warm-colored woods sculpted into sinuous curves rather than with right angles and expanses of glass. Inside the show house, classics abound, including two Wegner designs, the 1944 Wishbone Chair and the 1963 Curve Chair, and Henningsen’s 1954 Signature Chair, all distinguished by their slim profiles and delicately carved or molded wooden frames. “This minimal look means that the furniture doesn’t impede views of the outside,” Kudlac said.

A color palette more in sync with the arid Palm Springs climate tempers the interior’s Scandinavian leanings. The kitchen tiling, textiles, and tabletop accents alternate between the pale yellows and light blues that recur throughout Palm Springs landmarks, most notably in an iconic poolside image of Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann House taken by photographer Slim Aarons, a recent re-creation of which hangs in the Desert Eichler den.

Although mid-20th century Scandinavian and Californian designs evolved from disparate origins—the Danish seeking refuge from a harsh winter climate and Californians embracing a temperate one—both find a place in Eichler’s houses. And as Eichler’s designs find a new generation of homeowners, modernism wholeheartedly chugs along into the 21st century.

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Joseph Eichler’s Mid-Century Homes Reborn in Palm Springs

A few years ago, Realtor Monique Lombardelli fell in love with the work of Joseph Eichler, the developer whose architect-designed tract homes proliferated throughout Northern and Southern California in the decades following World War II. “[The Eichler homes] provide such a great environment, more of a relaxing, open feel,” she said. Lombardelli’s passion led her to produce a documentary on Eichler’s legacy, which in turn piqued her clients’ interest. “I started getting a lot of clients who wanted one, and there wasn’t anything to show them,” said Lombardelli. “Then I sold one that was a remodel, and everyone said, ‘I want an Eichler.’” Lombardelli wondered: was it possible to build new, Eichler-inspired homes based on the developer’s original plans? She describes the process of uncovering the plans as a “treasure hunt” during which she felt like Sherlock Holmes—following evidence from one archive to the next, trying to convince the archivists that her project was worthwhile. “It’s funny because all the people at these different archives, they said, ‘These plans, most of them have been thrown out, nobody cares. Why do you want them?’” recalled Lombardelli. She eventually found luck at the archives at UC Berkeley and Stantec. “Stantec has everything, it was a mecca, a nirvana for Eichler,” said Lombardelli. “I walked in there and it was like being in heaven.” Lombardelli purchased rights to everything the archives hold, which so far totals 65 plans. (The archives are so dense, said Lombardelli, that they are likely to uncover more plans as time goes on.) To turn her dream of building “new” Eichlers into a reality, Lombardelli needed a developer. That’s where Troy Kudlac of Palm Springs’ KUD Properties comes in. “I gave up a couple of times,” said Lombardelli, citing inflated estimates. “Modernism should not be that expensive—that’s what Joe [Eichler] said originally, that modernism should be experienced by everybody.” Kudlac agrees. He plans to build one or two Eichler-inspired homes in Palm Springs on spec. If all goes well, he’ll develop a small tract of about ten homes. “With something this kind of cutting edge and revolutionary, I’ve got to prove the concept,” said Kudlac. KUD Properties will submit plans to the city of Palm Springs by the end of March. They hope to break ground by mid-summer. In the meantime, Lombardelli is fielding inquiries from developers in Tampa, North Carolina, Colorado, New Mexico, Brazil, London, and elsewhere. She’s resisted requests to alter the plans, except where modern building codes require it. “I think we really need to respect what we’ve been brought up with, what our history is,” she said. “There’s a soul in each of these houses that really resonates with me. To duplicate that is very difficult, but I think if you’re duplicating that to make them live on, we have to keep them the same."