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Architecture in Palm Springs, California

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Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, California

Kaufmann House in Palm Springs, California. 1946. Richard Neutra, architect.

Photo © Jackie Craven
Coachella Valley Savings and Loan (now Washington Mutual) in Palm Springs

Coachella Valley Savings and Loan (now Washington Mutual) in Palm Springs, California. 1960. E. Stewart Williams, architect

Photo © Jackie Craven
Alexander Home in the Twin Palms Neighborhood, Palm Springs, California

Alexander Home in the Twin Palms Neighborhood, Palm Springs, California

Photo © Jackie Craven

About Palm Springs:

Nestled in the Coachella Valley and surrounded by mountains and deserts, Palm Springs, California became a favorite getaway for Hollywood starlets and socialites during the mid-1900s. Palm Springs architects adapted ideas from the Bauhaus movement and the International Style, creating an elegant yet informal style often called Desert Modernism.

Have you visited Palm Springs? Tell us what you saw!

Architectural Styles in Palm Springs:

Palm Springs, California is a virtual museum of Mid-Century Modern architecture with possibly the world's largest and best-preserved examples of elegant homes and landmark buildings constructed during the 1940s, 1950s, and 1960s. As you explore Palm Springs, look for these important styles:

Architecture Events in Palm Springs:

As the center of Mid-Century Modernism, Palm Springs, California hosts many architecture conferences, tours, and other events. Most famous is Modernism Week held in February each year.

Mid-Century Modern Hotels:

Several beautifully restored hotels in Palm Springs, California recreate the experience of mid-twentieth century living, complete with reproduction fabrics and furnishings by major designers of the period.

  • The Chase Hotel
    Studio rooms that recreate the 1950s. Visit Their Web Site
  • The Orbit In
    Two sister inns, the Orbit In and the Hideaway, with a retro flair. Visit Their Web Site
  • Rendezvous Bed & Breakfast
    Nostalgic 1950s theme rooms and gourmet breakfasts. Hotel Details
  • The Horizon Hotel
    Designed by William Cody in 1952. Hotel Details
  • The Movie Colonie Hotel
    Designed by Albert Frey in 1935. Hotel Details

Alexander Homes in Palm Springs:

Working with several architects, the George Alexander Construction Company built more than 2,500 homes in Palm Springs and established a modernist approach to housing that was imitated throughout the United States. Learn about Alexander Homes.

William Cody in Palm Springs:

Ohio-born architect William Cody designed many homes, hotels, and commercial projects in Palm Springs, Phoenix, San Diego, Palo Alto, and Havana. Must-see:

Albert Frey in Palm Springs:

Swiss architect Albert Frey worked for Le Corbusier before moving to the United States. The futuristic buildings he designed for Palm Springs launched the movement that became known as Desert Modernism. Must-see:

  • 1949-1963 (with Robson Chambers): Tramway Valley Station
  • 1957 (with John Porter Clark, Robson Chambers, and E. Stewart Williams): Palm Springs City Hall
  • 1963: Frey House II (rarely open to the public)
  • 1963-1965 (with Robson Chambers): Tramway Gas Station, now the Palm Springs Visitors Center

John Lautner in Palm Springs:

Architect John Lautner was an apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright for six years before establishing his own practice in Los Angeles. He is known for incorporating rocks and other landscape elements into his designs. Must-see:

Richard Neutra in Palm Springs:

Born and educated in Europe, Bauhaus architect Richard Neutra placed dramatic glass and steel homes in rugged California desert landscapes. Must-see:

Donald Wexler in Palm Springs:

Architect Donald Wexler worked for Richard Neutra in Los Angeles, and then for William Cody in Palm Springs. He partnered with Richard Harrison before establishing his own firm. Must-see:

Paul Williams in Palm Springs:

Los Angeles architect Paul Williams designed more than 2000 homes in southern California. He also designed:

  • 1937: International Style clubhouse for the Tennis Club on Baristo Road, Palm Springs
E. Stewart Williams in Palm Springs:

The son of Ohio architect Harry Williams, E. Stewart Williams built some of Palm Spring's most significant buildings during a long and prolific career. Must-see:

Lloyd Wright in Palm Springs:

Lloyd Wright was trained in landscape design by the Olmsted brothers and worked with his famous father, Frank Lloyd Wright, in developing concrete textile block buildings in Los Angeles. Lloyd Wright's projects in and near Palm Springs include:

Modernism Near Palm Springs:

References:

BOOKS

  • Palm Springs Weekend: The Architecture and Design of a Midcentury Oasis (Compare Prices)
  • Palm Springs Modern: Houses in the California Desert (Compare Prices)
ON THE WEB

As is common in the travel industry, the writer was provided with complimentary accommodations for the purpose of reviewing architecture in Palm Springs. While it has not influenced this article, About.com believes in full disclosure of all potential conflicts of interest. For more information, see our ethics policy.

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