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Palm Springs
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Palm Springs | A Midcentury Dream

Indulge your inner design geek with this year’s Palm Springs Modernism Week, from Oct 15-18

Palm Springs elicits both a sense of laid back glamour and mystical wonder. Tucked away in California’s Sonoran Desert it is a shinning jewel in a barren land, surrounded by hills and permanently drenched in scorching sunshine. Known as an oasis for celebrities in nearby Los Angeles and bohemian artists alike, it retains a magical energy that few places hold.

Among its many charms are its independent stores, trendy hotels and innovative restaurants but it is the city’s architecture that truly makes it stand out. A capital of sorts for Midcentury-modern design, Palm Springs has preserved a great deal of its original character (no mean feat in a country that has protected very few contemporary architectural marvels). 

Perhaps it is the very proximity to Los Angeles that has managed to preserve the homes and buildings that remain as architectural icons of design. The original homes were largely built for movie stars, musicians and film executives who enlisted the top and trendiest architects of the time to build their get-away homes from the prying eyes of fans and industry (Palm Springs is an easy 2 hours drive, which meant that if needed, stars could easily make their way back to a film set or recording studio). Later, when the homes were sold or inherited, a new community of artists and creatives that were drawn by its proximity to LA took their place, ensuring that many buildings remained largely untouched. 

Today, almost 80 years after its foundation, Palm Springs remains a popular tourist destination for design aficionados and those looking for a quick escape to the desert. In 2006, architecture buffs founded the Palm Springs Modernism Week, a celebration of the city’s heritage and contribution to the global pantheon of design. 

This year, the Modernism Week will be held from the 15th-18th of October in its first ever virtual setting, complete with tours, talks, presentations and discussions on design all through a three day digital conference. 

In advance of the much celebrated conference, we take a step back to explore some of Palm Spring’s best mid-century modern buildings and their architects:

Originally an Enco gas station it was built by by architects Albert Frey and Robson C. Chambers.  — Palm Springs
Originally an Enco gas station it was built by by architects Albert Frey and Robson C. Chambers.
2901 N Palm Canyon Drive

The Elrod Residence built by architect John Lautner — Palm Springs
The Elrod Residence built by architect John Lautner
featured extensive in the James Bond film Diamonds are Forever
2175 Southridge Drive 

Architects Palmer and Krisel and the Alexander Construction Company built this house — Palm Springs
Architects Palmer and Krisel and the Alexander Construction Company built this house
as part of a 90 home residential development
1070 Apache Road

Del Marcos Hotel built by architect Bill Cody — Palm Springs
Del Marcos Hotel built by architect Bill Cody
225 W Baristo Rd

Twin Palms built for Frank Sinatra by architect E Stewart Williams — Palm Springs
Twin Palms built for Frank Sinatra by architect E Stewart Williams
1148 East Alejo Rd

The Hope Residence was built for Bob and Dolores Hope - another masterpiece by architect John Lautner — Palm Springs
The Hope Residence was built for Bob and Dolores Hope – another masterpiece by architect John Lautner
2466 Southridge Drive

Abernathy House was built by architect William Cody for PR magnate James Logan Abernathy who gave him the express requirement that it needed to be optimised for 'pool parties'
Abernathy House was built by architect William Cody for PR magnate James Logan Abernathy who gave him the express requirement that it needed to be optimised for ‘pool parties’
70 Silver St

Albert Frey House II built by and for architect Albert Frey as his second home in Palm Springs
Albert Frey House II built by and for architect Albert Frey as his second home in Palm Springs
As the time it was the house with the highest elevation in the city – allowing him unique vistas
686 Palisades Dr

Jackel House a newly refurbished residence originally built by architect Clair Earl
Jackel House a newly refurbished residence originally built by architect Clair Earl

The Kaufmann Desert House built for Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann in 1946 by star architect Richard Neutra
The Kaufmann Desert House built for Edgar and Liliane Kaufmann in 1946 by star architect Richard Neutra
470 West Vista Chino Drive

One of 7 prefab steel houses designed and built by architect Donald Wexler — Palm Springs
One of 7 prefab steel houses designed and built by architect Donald Wexler
3125 N. Sunnyview Dr.

Without a doubt, there is a virtual smorgasbord of delectable architecture for design lovers in Palm Springs. No other city in the US, or perhaps the world, can compare to its incredible architectural structures. Tune in for Palm Springs Modernism Week this October for more and if you can’t get enough mid-century modern… venture over to Rancho Mirage for another heft dose.

Rancho Mirage — Palm Springs

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