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When you think of tract homes, you think of houses that look the same: the same color scheme, the same style; homes that form two uninteresting walls on either side of a suburban street. That might be the case today, but nearly 60 years ago — at a time when “real” architects wouldn’t touch tract homes — one architect did everything he could to break the monotony. His name is William Krisel, and he’s being honored by a place whose look he helped define — Palm Springs, Calif.
The minute you see Krisel’s homes, you’re taken back to another era. They have distinctive angled roofs, high windows and desert color schemes with pops of rich gold or vibrant blue. They also have lots of glass and elegantly simple lines, a signature of all the houses in the city’s Twin Palms tract neighborhood. One of those homes belongs to Heidi Creighton, and she knows just what she has. She says it’s “a Krisel-designed home, and it would be classified as a Model A-3 sunflap flat-roof tract house.”
Sitting in Creighton’s living room, if you didn’t see the flat screen TV, you’d swear it was 1962. The couch is angular and low to the ground. The wooden coffee table is kidney-shaped and rests on spindle legs. On an end table, there are glasses, a cocktail shaker and olive picks in their own stand.
“If you walked into my house,” Creighton says, “you would see a light-infused, glass house with very little distinction between the inside and the outside of the house. Materials are simple, and you’re happy to be here. It feels good.” […]