Until I spent a few days with my brother in Palm Springs over the Christmas Holiday, I had no idea of the work of architect Donald Wexler. Apparently, he has had an outsized influence on the architecture of Palm Springs and the more posh Coachella Valley cities adjoining it. My brother rented a Wexler house at 499 Farrell Street at the corner of Alejo in Palm Springs’s “Movie Colony” neighborhood.
I tend to take a dim view of much modern domestic architecture, but I must admit that Wexler’s work looked good in its lower desert setting, with Mount San Jacinto looming in the background. Not that his houses are particularly comfortable: The house that my brother Dan rented had no windows per se, only massive sliding glass doors that tended to superheat in the afternoon sun, plus a few glass ceiling panels.
If I had to rate the Wexlers I saw, I would give them an A for looks, but only a C for comfort. The lower desert can be fiercely hot, especially in the summer months with temperatures soaring to 115-120 degrees in the afternoons. Many of these houses were built in the 1950s and 1960s, when energy costs were low. During the summer, I would expect that one’s electric bill would likewise soar. Perhaps that’s where the pool and patio (see above) come into play. December can be pretty cold in Palm Springs, so Martine and I didn’t bother to bring our swimsuits.
Apparently, Donald Wexler is still alive, though, in his eighties, I am sure his architectural career is a thing of the past. Still, it is interesting to view his work, which you can do by clicking here, here, and here.