Donald Wexler

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Donald Wexler
Born(1926-01-23)January 23, 1926
DiedJune 26, 2015(2015-06-26) (aged 89)
Alma materUniversity of Minnesota
BuildingsPalm Springs International Airport, Steel Development Houses, Merrill Lynch, Desert Water Agency, Larson Justice Center

Donald Allen Wexler (January 23, 1926 – June 26, 2015) was an influential Mid-Century modern architect whose work is predominantly in the Palm Springs, California, area. He is known for having pioneered the use of steel in residential design.[1]

Life and career[edit]

Wexler was born in Sioux Falls, South Dakota, in 1926 and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota.[2] He graduated from the University of Minnesota in 1950[3] and worked for Richard Neutra in Los Angeles, CA. He moved to Palm Springs in 1952 and practiced there for almost six decades, developing an architecture that is acutely sensitive to the extremes of the desert climate. In 1962, he designed the all-steel Alexander houses, along with the structural engineer Bernard Perlin for the developers George and Robert Alexander.[4] His houses' framing, roofs and exterior siding are typically steel, with drywall interior siding.[5] While he chose to keep his office small and limited his practice to the desert community, Wexler produced a body of work that included houses, schools, hotels, banks and the Palm Springs International Airport.[5]


A one time resident of Palm Springs,[6] Wexler had a Golden Palm Star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars dedicated to him in 2008.[7] Archives of his work are kept at the Cal Poly Pomona College of Environmental Design.[8] In 2011, the Palm Springs Art Museum organized the exhibition "Steel and Shade: The Architecture of Donald Wexler".[9]

In 2011, developer Marnie McBryde presented plans to build up to 50 Wexler-designed houses, which are adaptations of the 1964 Palm Springs house he designed for Dinah Shore, throughout the Hamptons.[5] In 2014, actor Leonardo DiCaprio purchased the original Dinah Shore residence in the Old Las Palmas neighborhood of Palm Springs for $5,230,000 (equivalent to $6,730,000 in 2023).[10]

Wexler died at his home in Palm Desert on June 26, 2015, following a brief illness. He was 89.[11]


  1. ^ Bricker, Lauren Weiss; Williams, Sidney J. (2011). Steel and Shade : the Architecture of Donald Wexler. Palm Springs, CA: Palm Springs Art Museum. p. 131. ISBN 978-0981674346. LCCN 2010043639. OCLC 700522272. This book is published on the occasion of the exhibition Steel and Shade: The Architecture of Donald Wexler at the Palm Springs Art Museum, January 29 - May 29, 2011.
  2. ^ Grimes, William (July 1, 2015). "Donald Wexler, Architect Who Gave Shape to Palm Springs, Dies at 89". New York Times. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
  3. ^ "Donald Wexler". Modern Desert Home. Archived from the original on June 29, 2011. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  4. ^ Wisniewski, Katherine. "Remembering Donald Wexler, the Inventor of Palm Springs Modernism". Retrieved 1 July 2015.[permanent dead link]
  5. ^ a b c Hodge, Brooke (February 17, 2011). "Seeing Things: Donald Wexler, Desert Modernist". Retrieved July 2, 2015.
  6. ^ Johns, Howard (2004). Palm Springs Confidential: Playground of the Stars!. Fort Lee, NJ: Barricade Books. pp. 156, 216. ISBN 978-1569802694. LCCN 2004041116. OCLC 54392060.LCC PN2285 .J56 2004
  7. ^ Palm Springs Walk of Stars: By Date Dedicated Archived 2012-12-08 at the Wayback Machine
  8. ^ "Architectural Exhibition Features Work of Donald Wexler at Palm Springs Art Museum" (PDF) (Press release). Palm Springs Art Museum. December 1, 2010. Retrieved June 29, 2011.
  9. ^ Hawthorne, Christopher (February 15, 2011). "Culture Watch: Architect Donald Wexler in Palm Springs". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved July 2, 2015.
  10. ^ Lauren Beale (March 7, 2014), Leonardo DiCaprio buys Dinah Shore's onetime desert home Los Angeles Times.
  11. ^ Descant, Skip. "Modernist Architect Donald Wexler Dies at 89". No. June 27. 2015. The Desert Sun. The Desert Sun. Retrieved 28 June 2015.

Further reading[edit]

  • McGrew, Patrick; Donald Wexler (2010). Donald Wexler: Architect. Palm Springs, CA: Palm Springs Preservation Foundation. p. 54. OCLC 688357507.