Don Wexler Interview - Page 3

Architect Don Wexler traces his long road -- from humble beginnings to Palm Springs 'Walk of Fame'

DW: We did some FHA housing out of all steel. It was supposed to be low-cost housing. It was Rancho de los Penasquitos. We were still doing work for U.S. Steel. The plan was for 1,000 senior citizens' units, but only 30 were built. Then about 20 years later I went by there and I guess they had sold as condos. People had added on all this stuff that had nothing to do with the structure. After seeing it that once, I've never been back. I have no desire to see it.

Q: In 2000 you sold Donald Wexler Associates to a large architectural firm in Los Angeles. Did you retire right away?

DW: I stayed with them for a couple of years. But after being on my own all that time and being a small firm, [I found that] working with a big firm it's a whole different way of life. I didn't enjoy it at all.

Q: Do you enjoy the attention your work has been receiving recently?

DW: I'm amazed what's happened in the last ten years, being published in three or four books and articles from all over the world. We had a crazy experience. Six, eight years ago we were going to Barcelona. We were on Air France and my wife speaks French. She took 'Elle,' the magazine, and there's an article about me in it. That just floored me.

I was selected for an alumni award from the University of Minnesota. I was totally amazed because I graduated in 1950 and I hadn't been back.

It's astounding. All I know is, I was doing what I thought was right. I wouldn't have traded my life for anything. I enjoyed what I was doing.

Photos: Larry Merkle; vintage photo courtesy Don Wexler Collection; special thanks to Michael Stern and Glen and Gary Wexler