AIA|LA Remembers William Krisel, AIA, 1924-2017


photo by Alvin Huang, AIA

William Krisel, AIA, whose homes featuring butterfly roofs, patterned concrete block walls and post-and-beam construction put a Modernist stamp on Southern California's suburbs in the 1950s and ’60s, died on Monday, June 3, 2017 at his home in Beverly Hills. He was 92.

Born in 1924 in Shanghai, China, Krisel moved with his parents to Beverly Hills, California in 1937. He enrolled in the USC School of Architecture in 1941 before being called to the US Military to work as a Chinese interpreter. Awarded the Bronze Star by Truman, Krisel returned to USC in 1946 and graduated in 1949. His time among servicemen from many walks of life, as well as his education in the Modernist movement from USC, provided the motivation that would determine the arc of his career.

In the early 1950s, Krisel joined fellow architect Dan Palmer and together they pioneered the use of a variation of orientation and roofline, integration of indoor and outdoor living, and careful use of standardized elements to make modernist living highly designed, handsome, functional and affordable. These discoveries led to Palmer & Krisel’s first Palm Springs tract, Twin Palms.

Less than a decade later, the firm was working with seven out of the ten largest homebuilders in America creating large communities in Palm Springs, Los Angeles, San Diego, Las Vegas, Florida and Arizona. An avid delineator and model builder, Krisel would go on to design and see built more than 40,000 living units.

A longtime member of AIA Los Angeles, Bill received the AIA|LA Lifetime Achievement Award at the AIA|LA’s 2009 Design Awards and Presidential Honors at Hollywood’s Egyptian Theatre, “for inspiring through built work, inspiring again, and yet again inspiring; and demonstrating for architects, developers, and everyman that modern architecture is a lifeway that shapes the delight of light, air, sunshine, detail, and economy into timeless and durable shelter and landscape for all.”

In 2016, the USC Architectural Guild selected Bill as the recipient of their Distinguished Alumni Award.

He also served as an AIA California Council Board Member and led the AIA Los Angeles Chapter’s Districting and Liability Commitees, providing assistance and practical information to members and the public.

He is survived by his wife of 64 years, Corinne Krisel; son, William E. Krisel of Paris, France; daughter, Michelle Krisel of Washington, D.C.; and six grandchildren: Claire, Paul, Isaac, Alexis, Rebecca, and Laetitia. Bill and Corinne lived in the Brentwood section of Los Angeles for 60 years. His archives are part of the collection of the Getty Research Institute at the J. Paul Getty Museum.

You’re invited to learn more about William Krisel, his career and his architectural legacy, at the following links:

William Krisel article in the Los Angeles Times

from Curbed LA

from the Desert Sun

Profile by Alvin Huang, AIA (written in 2013)

from National Public Radio

Last updated: 07-Jun-2017 03:28 PM
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