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Tuesday, January 28, 2014

William Krisel

William Krisel (1924- ) was born in Shanghai, China, where his father had a State Department job. In 1937 the family came back to the United States and settled in Beverly Hills, California. At age 16, Krisel entered the University of Southern California's School of Architecture.

His studies were interrupted by World War II, which saw him working with Army Intelligence as a Chinese language interpreter. Following the war, he resumed his studies on the GI Bill, graduating in 1949. By 1954 he had become a licensed landscape architect as well.  His mentors included Raphael Soriano and Garrett Eckbo.

He worked as an apprentice in the offices of Paul Laszlo and Victor Gruen and formed a partnership with Dan Saxon Palmer and named the firm Palmer & Krisel, AIA. The partnership was dissolved in 1964, although together they designed high- and low-rise office and apartment buildings, shopping centers, schools, hospitals, hotels restaurants and affordable tract housing in the Los Angeles area during the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Krisel proudly described himself as a developer's architect. According to him, "In the 1950s, it wasn't enough for an architect to design well. You had to convince builders they would make money." And if you developed a relationship with a builder and did good work, you didn't have to search for clients. By 1957, he reportedly was working with seven of the 10 largest home builders in the country, most notably George Alexander, and by the 1960s, he declined any commission for fewer than 50 houses.

By his own calculation, he and his partners were responsible for more than 40,000 units of housing in Southern California, bringing the aesthetics and values of casual indoor/outdoor living to the masses and exemplified the building boom that took place after World War II.

From,, and

Home show house

Corbin Palms tract

La Jolla Pacifica tract

La Jolla Scenic Heights tract

Racquet Club Road Estates tract 

Twin Palms Estate tract

Ocotillo Lodge, Palm Springs

Butterfly roof, Palm Springs

Paradise Palms tract (Las Vegas, NV) - jgorst


  1. Is that a giant abacus in the first pic? Awesome.

    1. It sure looks like one to me. What a cool feature in a child's outdoor play area, huh?

  2. Replies
    1. I'm in love with the house in the third photo!

  3. Don't forget about Paradise Palms, a Krisel-designed home tract in Las Vegas. We love Bill Krisel. check out the documentary about him:

    1. Thanks for the link. I just added it to this post. I'll have to look into Paradise Palms. Mostly what I saw when doing my research was in the LA area.

    2. I also added a photo from of a Paradise Palms home.

  4. Oh wow, so much mid century gorgeousness!!! Love these!

    1. Yes, he and Dan Palmer turned out some amazing designs.