Palm Springs Mid Century Modern Tour – Desert Modernism is a description of the modern or international style that fits the interior and exterior lifestyle of Palm Springs. People flock to Palm Springs for the beautiful fall/winter weather and want to spend time outdoors. Desert modern is characterized by clean minimalist lines and a seamless blend of indoor and outdoor. Towers are usually flat or in the V shape of a butterfly wing (called a “butterfly” tower). Open floor plan with lots of windows and sliding glass doors leading to the outdoors. A nice breeze makes the desert heat more comfortable, and the car parks around the parking lot meet the need to protect the car.
Richard Neutra (1892-1970) – Born, raised and educated in Austria, Neutra immigrated to the United States in 1923, where he worked with Frank Lloyd Wright before becoming independent. Neutra designed buildings in Palm Springs, including the Miller Residence (1937) and his masterpiece: the Kaufmann Residence (1946).
Palm Springs Mid Century Modern Tour
John Lautner (1911-1994) – After training with Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West, Lautner moved to Los Angeles and focused on residential buildings. His unique application of organic architectural principles culminated in the Palm Springs home of Arthur Elrod and Bob Hope. The home is located in the gated Southridge area and is not accessible to the public, although the Hope residence can be seen on the north side from East Palm Canyon Drive.
Mid Century Modern Remodel: #psmw Palm Springs Modernism Week 2013 Continues With A Palmer And Krisel House Tour
Donald Wexler (1926-2015) – Donald Wexler worked for Richard Neutra in Los Angeles for a time before moving to Palm Springs where he was employed by William Cody. Wexler worked with Richard Harrison for a while. Together they designed several school buildings and steel mills for the Alexander Construction Company. Other notable designs include the Dinah Shore Residences, a luxury suite at Palm Springs International Airport, and the Royal Hawaiian Estates Condominiums.
William “Bill” Krisel (1924-2017) – Krisel studied architecture at the University of Southern California and became a licensed architect. 30,000 residential properties in Southern California can be listed on Krisel. As a friend of Bob Alexander, he was considered the architect for many of Alexander’s construction projects.
E. Stewart Williams (1909-2005) – Williams studied at Cornell and the University of Pennsylvania. Some of his famous projects in Palm Springs include Palm Springs Art Museum, Coachella Savings and Loan (now Chase Bank), Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan (now Art Museum Center for Architecture and Design), Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Station , and Frank Sinatra’s Residence. .
William Cody (1916-1978) – Cody studied architecture at the University of Southern California in 1946. Moved to Palm Springs. The following year, he designed the Hotel Del Marcos and continued to work at several clubs and country clubs in the Coachella Valley. . Cody’s famous constructions include the Abernathy House, Palm Springs Public Library and Sunrise Park, St. Teresa Catholic Church and L’Horizon Hotel.
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Albert Frey (1903-1998) – Frey developed a style of contemporary fashion in Palm Springs that became known as “Desert Modernism.” He worked in Paris for Charles-Edouard Jeanneret (often called Le Corbusier) before moving to the United States in 1928. Then, in New York, he worked for many years with the New York architect A. Lawrence Kocher, who editor of Architectural Record magazine. . Small work for the office and home for Kocher’s brother, Dr. J.J. Kocker, brought Frey to Palm Springs. In California, he worked with architect John Porter Clark. Notable buildings include the Frey House I and II and the Tramway Gas Station (now the Palm Springs Visitor Center). Raymond Loewy Residence at Palm Springs City Hall.
John Porter Clark (1905-1991) – Clark studied at Cornell and studied under Garrett Van Pelt in Pasadena. He moved to Palm Springs to find more work and is considered one of the pioneers of “Desert Modernism.” in 1935 Clark met Albert Frey and worked together on several projects, including Palm Springs City Hall, the Welwood Murray Memorial Library, the Palm Springs Women’s Club, and the St. Paul’s church in the desert.
George and Robert Alexander (Constructor) – Alexander Construction was founded by George Alexander and his father George. After World War II, they specialized in affordable housing in Southern California. Limited developers have helped make second homes in Palm Springs affordable for the growing middle class. Their home was known as the “Alexanders,” although William Krisel and Dan Palmer are said to have done most of the work. They collaborated with architects Charles Dubois and Donald Wexler. Alexander’s developments in Palm Springs include Twin Palms, Vista Las Palmas, Racquet Club Road Estates, Desert Lanai and Sunmore Estates.
Hugh Kaptur (1931 – ) – Kaptur studied civil engineering at the Lawrence Institute of Technology in Detroit, Michigan. in 1956 he moved to Palm Springs and studied with Wexler and Harrison. Kapturas is known for Steve McQueen’s residence, William Holden’s residence (both gated and private), several building projects for Ranch Construction (now Desert Park Estates Neighborhood), the clubhouse at Mesquite Golf Course, and the Tahquitz Plaza office. house, Triangle Inn, National Fire Station. 3 (with Robert Ricciardi) and fire station no. 4, Musicland Hotel (renewal), etc.
The Modern Tour
Jack Meiselman (architect) – Jack (1899-1994) Meiselman designed several family homes around Palm Springs in the 1950s and 1960s. Their home, designed by a young architect named John “Jack” Moyer , shared many of the same design principles and construction techniques seen in Alexander Development Company’s post-and-beam homes. The Meiselmans built approximately 350 homes in Palm Springs.
A. Quincy Jones (1913-1979) – Jones worked with many modern architects, including Douglas Honnold, George Vernon Russell, Burton A. Schutt, and Paul Williams. He later worked with Paul Williams on several Palm Springs projects, including the Palm Springs Tennis Club (1947), the Town & Country Restaurant (1948), and the Country Club Estates Condominiums.
This self-guided tour is just the beginning of an amazing collection of unique buildings in Palm Springs that were designed in the mid-20th century. Many of these architects are not well known. They are young architects, often during their careers, exposed to many famous modern architects. In Palm Springs, they found customers willing to ditch the tired revivals and traditional styles and embrace the new ideas of the Modern Movement.
This beautiful modernist structure was built between 1963 and 1965. like a gas station. The building is constructed of corrugated galvanized steel, stretches over 95 feet and is supported by six steel tube columns. The dramatic structure is designed to attract the attention of motorists entering Palm Springs. In the 1990s, the owners threatened to demolish the building. Fortunately, the cooler heads prevailed and awarded the building a Grade 1 Historic Landmark designation. It soon became the Palm Springs Visitor Center.
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The visitor center offers many building materials, as well as various gifts and information. For those who want to see even more of Palm Springs’ midcentury architecture than the tours offer, purchase a map compiled by the Contemporary Palm Springs Committee.
Also available for purchase is a tour map of Hollywood Star Homes, the homes of many Hollywood stars who helped make Palm Springs famous around the world.
On the east side of Palm Canyon, south of San Rafael, is another spectacular gas station designed by architect William Cody. The station has a thin cast concrete roof. The office and the supervisor’s office is a simple cubic volume that seems to have been carefully pushed under the important plane of the roof. Canopy lighting is cleverly integrated into the tower’s recessed troffers, which have recently been re-installed with lighting. The minimalist design and slim roof profile are trademarks of Cody’s work in the desert.
Take San Rafael Drive across the street from the visitor center. Turn right on Indian Canyon Drive and left on East Simms Road.
In Praise Of Desert Modernism In Palm Springs
Not far from the Palm Springs Visitor Center on Indian Canyon Drive is the Racquet Club Road Estates by Alexander Construction Company. Racquet Club Estates boasts Donald Wexler’s Steel Development homes at Sunnyview, Simms and Molina Roads, several Alexanders by Palmer & Krisel, and a collection of mid-century homes designed by Jack Meiselman and designed by Jack Moyer. .
1960 Designed by Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison, these steel-work buildings were intended to fill the entire area. But after seven buildings were built, the rising cost of steel made other buildings of this type unnecessary. All seven buildings are first-class historic sites and are listed on the National Register of Historic Places.
A close friend of developer Bob Alexander and his family, Krisel came to the desert at Alexander’s request to design a tract of modern homes called Smoke.
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