Luke Leuschner    


Photo credits (top to bottom, L to R): Palm Springs Historical Society; Albert Frey Collection, UC Santa Barbara; Fritz Block Collection, USC; Julius Shulman Collection, Getty Research Institute; Fritz Block Collection, USC. 
The Swiss-born Albert Frey emerged from the Parisian offices of Le Corbusier at the height of the Great Depression, and after a number of transatlantic voyages and architecture offices, found himself in Palm Springs, CA. It was a far cry from his homeland of Switzerland, but it was there that he pioneered Desert Modernism and designed some of the California’s most iconic structures. 

Frey’s portfolio presents a number of answers to what it means to live and build in the desert, from his stucco Kocher-Samson building (1934) to his personal homes, Frey I (1940) and Frey II (1963), to his fantastical North Shore Yacht Club (1958) on the Salton Sea. And he never stopped innovating with his favorite material: aluminum. 

During the summer of 2022 — enabled by a generous grant from the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation — I was the lead historian for the Palm Springs Art Museum’s exhibition Albert Frey: Inventive Modernist, running from January to June of 2024 as curated by designer Brad Dunning.

I was a contributor to the corresponding catalog of the same title (Radius Books, 2024) with other texts by Brad Dunning, Joseph Rosa, Paul Goldberger, Barbara Lamprecht, Michael Rotondi, Janice Lyle, Christina Kim, and Yves Behar. In the book, you can find my essay “Modernism on the Desert’s Shores: North Shore Yacht Club and the Remaking of the Salton Sea” and the full project catalog tracing Frey’s entire career that is the culmination of my research.