Right Angles

In The Frey

Photo by Scott Van Dyke

Modernism Week tours are your ticket inside this architect’s small cube of a home

You’ve seen Swiss-born Albert Frey’s Tramway gas station, Palm Springs City Hall, and Fire Station No. 1 on Indian Canyon Drive, among his other buildings of note. But venture inside Frey House II, the architect’s longtime hillside residence, and you’ll find yourself snug in a glass-and-steel cube perched high on the west end of Tahquitz Canyon Way.

The second of Frey’s self-designed homes here, Frey II originally claimed only 800 square feet on a rugged patch of desert terrain that nearly conceals the house from some angles. He later added a guest room that expanded the home to a modest 1,200 square feet — all of which incorporate the desert environment through a combination of glass walls and outdoor elements built into the structure itself (as seen in the bedroom boulder below).

The full day of Frey House II tours this month offers a rare opportunity to step inside Frey’s world. Access to the house is usually limited due to the private road and the small number of visitors this home can accommodate at once. Since the house was given by bequest to the Palm Springs Art Museum in 1998, it has been faithfully restored and maintained to preserve the architectural specimen as close as possible to its original condition.

Frey II Tours run on Feb. 19 from 8:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tickets are $50. A shuttle from Palm Springs Art Museum’s south parking lot at 101 Museum Drive will transport guests up to the home for a 45-minute tour given by museum staff and Architecture and Design Council members. For tickets to this and other Modernism Week events sponsored by Palm Springs Art Museum, call 325-4490 or visit www.psmuseum.org. For other events, visit www.modernismweek.com.

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