Albert Frey

A Brief Biography

Albert Frey was was a Swiss-born architect who lived from 1903-1998. Frey received his architecture diploma in 1924 from the Institute of Technology in Winterthur, Switzerland. Prior to graduating, Frey became aware of the Dutch De Stijl movement, the German Bauhaus school and movement, and the modernism movement developing in Brussels. This would play a significant part in Frey’s later, modern work.

In 1928 Frey earned a position in the Paris atelier of the infamous International Style architect Le Corbusier and Pierre Jeanneret. From 1935 to 1937 Frey worked with John Porter Clark, a Cornell-educated architect, and created the firm Van Pelt and Lind Architects in California. There was a brief period when Frey worked in New York, but returned to the California desert in 1939, where he continued working with Clark in Palm Springs for nearly 20 years.

Frey was quoted as saying this in 1990:

In my youth, out of necessity, I had to produce a desired result with the least material and effort. Since then I found this principle to be a stimulating challenge to create, with aesthetic possibilities and gratifying the intellect. Today, realizing that resources are limited and with populations increasing drastically, conspicuous consumption is against the common good.

Frey’s buildings contributed significantly to establishing Palm Springs as the desert destination for innovative modern architecture during the 1950’s, 1960’s and 1970’s. He produced designs for a wide variety of building types from custom homes to institutional, public buildings, most of which are still in use today. According to Frey, he preferred form of expression was houses, which he certainly perfected in works like his Frey House II.

Albert Frey died in Palm Springs, California, on November 14, 1998, at the age of 95.

Key works

Palm Springs City Hall | Palm Springs, California [1952]
Cree House II | Cathedral City, California [1956]
Frey House II | Palm Springs, California [1964]
Tramway Gas Station | Palm Springs, California [1965]

Photo of Frey House II taken by Linda_Bisset, entitled “Albert Frey House II”
(CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)