Yesterday an article on William Krisel caught my eye. As many mid-century buffs know, the Coachella Valley is one of the few places in the country which enjoys a large concentration of Mid-Century and Desert Modern homes. The majority of these 2500+ homes were built between 1955 and 1965 by the Alexander Construction Company – more precisely, by the father and son team of George and Robert Alexander. Many of these Alexander-built houses were designed by the Los Angeles architectural firm of Palmer and Krisel.
The popularity of these homes (although not universally loved by all), is due to their signature style of architecture in the Modern idiom, recognized worldwide. (Soon these homes will again be celebrated in Palm Springs during the annual Palm Springs Modernism Week, February 14 – 24, 2008).
Because of enduring popularity of the designs, at least one builder in the valley has begun construction of new homes that are so much like the originals designed by William Krisel, that Mr. Krisel has taken him to court for using his designs in their current construction projects.. The resultant court ruling is that the Krisel designs have “fallen into the public domain because the copyright expired in 1987. . . (and) can be used by anyone”, according to a brief in the Desert Sun on January 22, 2008.
So aficionados of Mid-Century architecture may now copy and build the original Krisel designs, if so inclined. But for safety’s sake, check with your attorney first, just in case! To read more about the lawsuit, click here on Lawsuit, then scroll down to “Lawsuit against local developer dismissed”.