In Memoriam: Donald Wexler (B.Arch ‘50)

la-me-donald-wexler-1926-2015-pictures-2015070-004Donald Wexler, a prominent Modernist architect based in Palm Springs, passed on June 26 at age 89.

Wexler enrolled in the University of Minnesota’s school of architecture after serving in the Navy during WWII, and graduated with a Bachelor of Architecture in 1950. After graduation, Wexler left Minnesota’s cold winters for Palm Springs, where he worked under Desert Modernist William Cody. Wexler found both inspiration and creative constraint in his arid surroundings. Steel, glass, and concrete—the materials that work best in the desert—also feature prominently in his designs.

He formed a partnership with colleague Richard Harrison in 1952, and later established his own firm. Wexler designed a number of iconic Mid-century modern medical buildings, schools, and offices, as well as the main terminal of the Palm Springs airport, a gas station, and private homes. The American Institute of Architects named him a fellow in 2004.

la-me-donald-wexler-1926-2015-pictures-2015070-006Wexler’s work inspired the 2011 exhibition “Steel and Shade: The Architecture of Donald Wexler” at the Palm Springs Art Museum and the 2010 documentary “Journeyman Architect: The Life and Work of Donald Wexler.”

Former dean Tom Fisher remembered “Don Wexler was a kind and gentle soul as well as a talented and productive architect, who made us all proud in his alma mater, the University of Minnesota. Don stood as a model to our students of how to launch a brilliant career by following your own path and seizing opportunities when they present themselves. He had an important impact on the architecture of Palm Springs and he will be greatly missed by all of his cold-weather, Minnesota friends.”

A memorial to honor his life and achievements will be held Sunday, July 5 at 12 p.m. in Palm Springs, CA at Temple Isaiah on 332 West Alejo Road.

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