November 5, 2015, 11:24 am
By Philip Ferrato
As one of the architects whose work would define the look of Palm Springs architecture, the role of Donald Wexler (1926-2015) in bringing Mid-century Modernism to the desert cannot be underestimated. With dozens of projects to his credit, this protegé of Richard Neutra would bring an aesthetic of low, sweeping post-and-beam structures to the Coachella Valley, and the elegantly modest home he built for himself and his family in 1955 is no exception. He would go on to expand the house in 1960, and then (in his ‘80s) supervised an impeccable 2008 remodel for a new owner. It’s now on the market for $1.75M. Materials and finishes flow together seamlessly, as do the indoor and outdoor spaces.
Seamlessly and beautifully, however, changes did take place under Wexler’s guidance in 2008. The bathrooms have been completely updated, as have the systems. Original terrazzo flooring has been restored and polished. The property was enclosed in a new privacy wall with sympathetic, subtle landscaping by William Kopelk and Marcello Villano, and new walls of glass bring the outside in.
Shev Rush and Kevin Lane have restored and lived in two Wexler houses (one of the pioneering Steel Houses and later, the luxurious Leeds-Howard House) and had the opportunity to visit many Wexler-designed properties over the past 15 years. Rush told us, “Wexler’s own house remains one of our absolute favorites. The program is elegant and yet simultaneously totally functional, and one of our favorite things about Don’s work is the siting. The Wexler House is a great example of this, with sufficient privacy from the street giving way to a series of wonderful, discrete outdoor spaces.”
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