Albert Frey (Albert Frey)

Albert Frey

Architect. A pioneer of the “Mid-Century Moderne” style. He was born in Switzerland and showed an interest in mechanics early in life, but his father wanted him to be an architect. Frey didn’t think designing chalets and other ordinary buildings he saw in his homeland would be interesting work, but after seeing the exciting modern structures being designed by the architect “Le Corbusier”, Frey changed his mind and decided to travel to Paris to work for him. By 1930 Frey was moving to New York where he thought the architecture was even more adventurous and building materials more interesting. He was to become partners with A. Lawrence Kocher. On assignment, he came to Palm Springs, California in 1934 to oversee construction of the Kocher-Samson Building there. He fell in love with the natural beauty of the desert east of Los Angeles and by 1939, was a permanent resident of Palm Springs. He would become one of the inventors of the architecture known as “Desert Modernism”, or now more popularly known as “Mid-Century Moderne” (referring to having become the popular style of the “mid-20th century” of the 1950s). His ┬ástyle, along with those of his contemporaries Richard Neutra, John Lautner, E. Stewart Williams, William F. Cody, Dan Palmer Bill Krisel and Don Wexler, has influenced visual arts, from graphic design to textiles and fashion and furnishings. Frey was prolific and created commercial and civic buildings, most of which remain standing. Several of these are designated as historic landmarks today. These include the Palm Springs City Hall, Tramway Valley Station, Fire Station No. 1, Tramway Gas Station (now the Palm Springs Visitor’s Center), Alpha-Beta Market (torn down in 2003 but replaced by a Ralphs Market, which retains the architectural elements almost identical to the original), several important homes, the Seeburg Building, San Jacinto Hotel Movie Colony Inn and Villa Hermosa. His own spectacular home built around a mountain boulder, which is part of the living room, is now owned by the Palm Springs Art Museum and tours are given by appointment. His buildings are now considered masterpieces, especially his homes, which are much sought after on the real estate market. The classic A-framed mid-century roof-lines are clearly taken from the alpine architecture of Switzerland and are a trademark of Frey homes. There have been several books written especially about Frey and his unique and iconic contribution to architecture. Frey’s grave includes a simple marker in a small quiet cemetery at the foot of the San Jacinto Mountain in Palm Springs in the “Las Palmas” neighborhood (which can be seen in the photo section on this memorial). Some of the greatest buildings he designed are only a few blocks in any direction. The perfect final resting place for this kind, amazing and brilliant man. (bio by: Christian)


  • October, 18, 1903
  • Switzerland


  • November, 11, 1998
  • USA


  • Welwood Murray Cemetery
  • California
  • USA

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