Albert Frey’s modernist Cree House in Palm Springs revealed in new photos

Cree House by Albert Frey

The low-slung residence that Swiss architect Albert Frey elevated above a rocky hillside in Palm Springs, California in the 1950s has been restored.

The owner, who purchased the house in the 1970s, spent the last two years working on the renovation to make the property as close to the original design as possible.

Cree House by Albert Frey

Celebrated Palm Springs architect Frey completed Cree House for a family in 1955 in the modernist style popular of the location and era.

As shown in new photos, these elements include overhanging roofs, slender pilotis and natural materials.

Cree House by Albert Frey

Stones form walls at the front of the house and a chimney that rises on one side, to blend in with its surroundings on the hillside.

Yellow corrugated fibreglass wraps around a balcony that juts out in front of the house. The balcony is elevated atop slender columns creating a carport in the space below.

Cree House by Albert Frey

Pilotis also lift the main, single-storey volume of the residence. A second terrace on this upper level, featuring walls and floors made of stone, offers views of the hilly surrounds.

Frey made vistas available from inside the property through large windows.

Cree House by Albert Frey

The interior comprises walls covered in warm wood panelling, pale carpeted floors and touches of stonework provided by the chimney. Mid-century designs by Charles and Ray Eames and George Nelson complement the aesthetic.

Cree House by Albert Frey

Following the completion of the renovation project, the owner opened the property up for public tours during this year’s Palm Springs Modernism Week, which took place from 13 to 23 February.

American furniture manufacturer Herman Miller provided furnishings to decorate the house for the tours.

Cree House by Albert Frey

Los Angeles practice Stayner Architects also restored the modernist Wave House nearby in Palm Desert to coincide with the 2020 event. The property was completed by architect Walter S White in the 1950s and features a wave-shaped roof.

Cree House by Albert Frey

Frey was born in Switzerland in 1903 and started his architecture career in Belgium. He then moved to Paris to work for Le Corbusier, where Frey contributed to many significant modernist buildings including the iconic Villa Savoye.

The architect left Europe to work in New York City where he designed the ready-to-assemble Aluminaire House in 1931, which was transported from the East Coast to Palm Springs and assembled in a park.

Cree House by Albert Frey

In 1939 Frey moved to California and worked with American architect John Porter Clark for almost 20 years.

He completed a number of projects in Palm Springs like Tramway Gas Station with Robson Chambers, which now serves as Palm Springs Visitors Center, and several modernist residences such as Cree House.

Photography is by Lance Gerber.

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