The International style, which inspired the unique midcentury modern architecture celebrated during Modernism Week, began in the Palm Springs area in 1934 with the arrival of Swiss-born architect, Albert Frey. Frey, in partnership with A. Lawrence Kocher, came to the desert to design a building for Kocher’s brother, Dr. Jacob John Kocher.
The building included a studio apartment on the upper level, a freestanding carport with a metal roof and an office that would house the retiring physician’s real estate development and insurance office. On April 10, 2012, the City of Palm Springs’ Historical Site Preservation Board designated the Kocher-Sampson building, located at 766 N. Palm Canyon Drive, as a Class I historic site.
The innovative building immediately drew attention, when photographs of the structure were at the Museum of Modern Art in New York City. The cutting-edge exhibition, “Architecture in California,” featured the works of Kocher and Frey, Richard Neutra, R.M. Schindler and William Wilson Wurster.
In the retrospective, the Kocher-Sampson building was heralded as being “typical of the restrained ingenuity of the eastern experimentalism which in contrast with that of California seems economical and chaste.” This was the last project that Kocher and Frey would do together. They dissolved their partnership and Frey returned to Palm Springs in 1935
There is a multitude of ways to Explore Palm Springs, which turns 82 in 2020. One of the more intriguing methods is by exploring Palm Springs history.
The Palm Springs Historical Society will share a story whose time and place that often corresponds with today.
The Palm Springs Historical Society is located at 221 S. Palm Canyon Drive. Visit pshistoricalsociety.org for more information.
• READ NEXT: Looking for more historically based stories?Visit our History page.