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 he 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 hung out his shingle with Palmer. At the outset the firm of Palmer and Krisel, A.I.A. Architects designed custom homes and commercial projects prior to investing their time in Los Angeles area tract homes. By 1954 Mr. Krisel had become a licensed landscape architect as well.
Between 1949-1966, the office was called Palmer & Krisel, AIA. Following the dissolution of his partnership with Dan Palmer, the office was titled William Krisel, AIA (1966-1969). Joining in partnership (between 1969-1980), they rehung their shingle as Krisel/Shapiro & Associates. From 1980 to the present, he has returned to his roots as 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 architect 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 – before dissolving the partnership in 1964. Krisel may be most noted, locally, as the designer of the ten 15-story towers comprising Coronado Shores Condominiums adjacent to the Hotel Del.
William Krisel’s experience in design and construction includes 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 claims 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 more than 50 publications, including: Architectural Record, LA Times, NY Times Magazine, SF Times, Sunset, Dwell, San Diego Magazine, San Diego Home/Garden Lifestyles, Palm Springs Life, CA Modern as well as the books Architecture of the Sun, Modernism Revisited, Palm Springs Weekend, and Forgotten Modern.
His work has garnered numerous awards for design excellence, including AIA Lifetime Achievement and “Tribal Elder” Awards, as well as recognitions by Palm Springs Lifetime Achievement, ASLA, NAHB, the City of Beverly Hills, and West LA.
Partial List of San Diego Projects
Airport Reproduction Services (1961)
Balboa (ca. 1962)
Bankers Hill Apartments (1962)
Beth Israel School of Religion (1960)
Century Plaza Tower Condominiums
Chamber Building (1962)
Circle 8 ½ Motel (1962)
College Area (1956-1960)
Coronado Shores Condominiums (1969-1979)
Del Prado Condominiums (1972)
Imperial '400' Motel
Imperial '400' Motel
Kahn Building (1961)
La Jolla Crest (1960-62)
La Jolla Scenic Heights (1962)
Leisure Life Village (1964)
Loma Lodge (1960)
Loma Starr Building (now Peninsula Center) (1960)
North Island Naval Air Station Officers' Club
Pioneer Mortgage and Pacific Coast Title Insurance (1959)
PM Electronics (1960)
Point Loma Estates (1962)
Point Loma Shopping Center (1964)
Point Loma Towers Apartments (1963-1964)
Poway Plaza Shopping Center (1960)
Raffee’s Carpet (1959)
Raffee’s Carpet (1961)
Security First National Bank (1960)
Sheltered Workshops (1962)
Shorepoint Apartments (1967)
University City (1960)
Viewpoint North (1960-62)
Viewpoint South (1960-62)
West Loma Office Building (1964)