News Byte: The Aluminaire House is Now Home


News Byte: The Aluminaire House is Now Home

March 14, 2024

In 2020, the Aluminiare House Foundation donated the Aluminaire House to the Palm Springs Museum of Art in California to be part of its permanent collection. The foundation was founded by Associate Professor Frances Campani, M.Arch., and Professor Emeritus Michael Schwarting, M.Arch., in the School of Architecture and Design. At the time, Campani and Schwarting Architects designed a preliminary site plan for the house at the museum’s south parking area and were responsible for the reconstruction of the house. It was supposed to be completed by winter 2021-2022 but was delayed due to the pandemic.

The reconstruction is now complete, and Schwarting and Campani celebrated its completion during Modernism Week, an 11-day celebration of mid-century modern design, architecture, art, fashion, and culture in Greater Palm Springs.

This isn’t the first time the husband-and-wife team saved the house from demolition. The house was moved three times before finding its permanent home in Palm Springs.

After years of neglect, the house was in danger of being demolished. A group of preservationists led by Schwarting and Campani set about to save the home. In 1988, New York Institute of Technology purchased the Aluminaire House and moved it to the university’s Central Islip campus. As part of their coursework, architecture students dismantled and rebuilt it there (then the location of one of its architecture programs). After the Central Islip campus closed, the house was disassembled again and put in storage. Until now.

The Aluminaire House is an icon of modernist design and is listed as one of the most important buildings completed worldwide in the past 125 years by Architectural Record. It was designed as a case study by architects A. Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey in April 1931 and was unveiled at the Architectural and Allied Arts Exposition in New York City that same year. The all-metal home was constructed mostly of aluminum and glass components, which inspired the name. It was intended to be mass-produced and affordable, using inexpensive, off-the-shelf materials. It garnered much attention at the time, and when the exposition ended, it was purchased by architect Wallace K. Harrison, who relocated it to his country estate in Huntington, N.Y.

A public opening at the Palm Springs Museum of Art is scheduled for March 23.

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