William Krisel

Architect | 1924-2017
William Krisel

In 1946, William Krisel returned to his studies at USC, on the GI Bill, under the tutelage of Cal Straub, Raphael Soriano and Garrett Eckbo. He worked for Paul Lazlo and Victor Gruen before partnering with Dan Saxon Palmer. Over the decades, the firm Palmer & Krisel, AIA produced a significant number of residential and commercial designs across San Diego County.

William Krisel

William Krisel was born in Shanghai in 1924, a city his father had moved to with his work for the State Department. In 1937, the family returned to California where a young William would learn of Lillian Rice and Frank Lloyd Wright to name but a few influential architects of the era.

Following his graduation from Beverly Hills High School in 1941, the 16 year-old entered USC’s School of Architecture, only to be interrupted by the U.S.’s entry into World War II. During the War Mr. Krisel worked in Army Intelligence, served as the Chinese-language interpreter for General Stillwell, and earned the Bronze Star for Valorous Service.

Following the war, in 1946 Krisel returned to his studies on the GI Bill. Here his mentors would be Cal Straub, Raphael Soriano and Garrett Eckbo. Alongside his studies the young apprentice worked in the offices of Paul Lazlo and Victor Gruen and joined in partnership with Dan Saxon Palmer.

The promising architect graduated from USC in 1949, obtained his license in 1950, and opened Palmer and Krisel, A.I.A. Architects (1949-1966) designing custom homes and commercial projects prior to investing their time in Los Angeles area tract homes.

Following the dissolution of Palmer & Krisel, AIA he opened William Krisel, AIA (1966-1969) followed by Krisel/Shapiro & Associates (1969-1980). In 1980, the veteran architect returned to William Krisel, AIA.

As early as 1952 Palmer & Krisel’s system of modular post and beam construction proved popular and effective. 179 units of contemporary design later and Claremont Village was born. After years of success in Los Angeles, Palm Springs and Borrego Springs, the firm designed the Loma Palisades Apartments and a number of residential tracts throughout San Diego. By 1961, Krisel began his efforts in local high rise developments with the 24-story Kahn Building – within which the firm would house their San Diego office. Krisel may be most noted, locally, as the designer of the ten 15-story towers comprising Coronado Shores Condominiums adjacent to the Hotel Del Coronado.

William Krisel’s experience in design and construction included nearly every kind of structure, including high- and low-rise office and apartment buildings, shopping centers, industrial buildings, factories, schools, hospitals, religious buildings, hotels, motels, and restaurants. He claimed credit for over 40,000 housing units as he pioneered the use of innovative, modern design for affordable tract housing, commercial and multi-unit residential architecture.

William Krisel’s work has been published in Architectural Record, Los Angeles Times, New York Times Magazine, San Francisco Times, Sunset, Dwell, San Diego Magazine, San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles, Palm Springs Life, and CA Modern in addition to the books Architecture of the Sun, Modernism Revisited, Palm Springs Weekend, Forgotten Modern and William Krisel: The Language of Modernism.

His work has garnered numerous awards for design excellence, including AIA Lifetime Achievement and “Tribal Elder” Awards, as well as Palm Springs Lifetime Achievement, ASLA, NAHB, the City of Beverly Hills, and West LA awards.

Partial List of San Diego Projects

Airport Reproduction Services (1961)
Midway District

Allied Gardens Tract Housing (ca. 1951-54)
Homes on Twain Avenue, Allied Gardens
*For developers Walter Bollenbacher and Louis L. Kelton; Photographed by Julius Shulman and attribution by Shulman's archive

Balboa (ca. 1962)
Housing Tract along Kenosha Way in Clairemont

Bankers Hill Apartments (1962)
222 Quince Street, Bankers Hill
*For Corey/Ballard

Beth Israel School of Religion (1960)
211 Maple Street, Bankers Hill

Borrego Golf Club Estates (1959)
Multiple addresses including 324 Wranglers Drive
*Design of this initial tract of 12 homes (7 survive to this day) for La Jolla based developers Fred Corey Jr. and John Wilhelm in Golf Course Annex subdivision.

Borrego Springs Park (1962)
Borrego Springs, California
*Unbuilt - 18 hole golf course that would be sited adjacent to a 200 unit residential complex by Palmer & Krisel Architects and Engineeers, A.I.A

Century Plaza Tower Condominiums
Bankers Hill
*For developer Corey/Trepske

Chamber Building (1962)
110 West C Street
*For developer Irvin Kahn

Circle 8 ½ Motel (1962)
Mission Valley

College Glen (1956-1960)
Housing Tract for developer Leonard Drogin along Baja Drive, Baja Court and Chaparral Way

Commercial Building
5952 El Cajon Boulevard, College Area

Coronado Shores Condominiums (1969-1979)
1730 Avenida Del Mundo, Coronado
*For developer Loews / Snyder

Del Cerro (ca. 1961)
Housing Tract along Airoso Avenue, Bromley Court and Dartford Way

Del Prado Condominiums (1972-73)
666 Upas Street, Bankers Hill
*By Krisel Shapiro & Associates for developer William Starr's Del Prado Company

Imperial '400' Motel
6624 El Cajon Boulevard, College Area

Imperial '400' Motel
1655 Pacific Highway, San Diego

Kahn Building (1961)
Address not known

La Jolla Crest (1960-62)
Housing Tract along Soledad Mountain Road

La Jolla Scenic Heights (1962)
Housing Tract along Avenida Fiesta
*For developer Leonard Drogin

La Mesa Spec Homes (1960-61)
4950 Treasure Drive, La Mesa
9420 Fortune Lane, La Mesa
9395 Fortune Lane, La Mesa
9385 Fortune Lane, La Mesa
*Possibly built by Leonard Drogin

Leisure Life Village (1964)
6127 Erlanger Street, University City
*248 single-story steel apartment homes designed for active adults for developer Irvin J. Kahn. This complex was destroyed in 2009 to make way for the 368-unit Cresta Bella Apartments.

Loma Lodge (1960)
Point Loma
*For developer Irvin Kahn

Loma Palisades Apartments
2799 Adrian Street, Loma Portal

Loma Starr Building (now Peninsula Center) (1960)
3065 Rosecrans Place, Point Loma
*For developer Bill Starr; Photographed by Julius Shulman

North Island Naval Air Station Officers' Club
Naval Air Station North Island

Pacifica (1960)
Pacific Beach
*Housing Tract along Pacifica Drive, San Aquario Drive, San Joaquin Drive and Loring Streets in Pacific Beach; photographed by Julius Shulman

Pioneer Mortgage and Pacific Coast Title Insurance (1959)
5952 El Cajon Boulevard, College Area
*Both companies were owned by Harry Sugarman, who also invested in housing tracts with Leonard Drogin. Melhorn Construction Company served as the contractor.

PM Electronics (1960)

Point Loma Estates (1962)
Loma Portal
*Housing Tract along Leland, Larga Circle, Marquette Street, Calypso Place and Kemper Street; for developer Leonard Drogin; Photographed by Julius Shulman

Point Loma Shopping Center (1964)
Point Loma
*Located at the corner of West Point Loma Boulevard & Groton Street; for developer Bill Starr

Point Loma Towers Apartments (1963-1964)
Point Loma
*For developer Mabie & Mintz

Poway Plaza Shopping Center (1960)
*For developer Robert Gordon

Raffee’s Carpet (1959)
6331 University Avenue, College Area
*For Alan Raffee; photographed by Julius Shulman

Raffee’s Carpet (1961)
3603-3655 Camino del Rio West,Point Loma
*For Alan Raffee; photographed by Julius Shulman

Security First National Bank (1960)
*Located at the Southwest corner of Poway Road and Community Road, Poway; for developer Pacific Southwest Realty Company

Sheltered Workshops (1962)
*For developer Irvin Kahn

Shorepoint Apartments (1967)
1040 Coast Boulevard South, La Jolla
*For developer Bill Starr

University City (1960)
La Jolla
*Housing Tract along Streseman, Lamas, Gobat, Lord Cecil, Award Row, Sandburg Avenue, Quidde Avenue and Dalen Avenue
*Designed by Palmer & Krisel A.I.A. Architects and Engineers for developer Irvin Kahn

Viewpoint North (1960-62)
La Jolla
*Housing Tract along La Jolla Scenic Drive North, Sugarman, Kilbourn and Cranbrook streets

Viewpoint South (1960-62)
La Jolla
*Housing Tract on Mt. Soledad South

West Loma Office Building (1964)
3910 Chapman Street, Point Loma
*For developer Bill Starr

Airport Reproduction Services