Claudine & Alvin
Mid-Century Modern Homes in Palm Springs
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Most of the mid century homes will be found in Palm Springs Proper but a few were also built in Rancho Mirage. The listings below will show mid century homes in Palm Springs Proper only.
Mid-Century Modern|Palm Springs
There is no place on earth that has better or more abundant samples of Mid-Century architecture than Palm Springs. From public buildings and commercial structures to private homes and estates, Palm Springs boasts literally hundreds of exceptional examples designed by the foremost architects of the Mid-Century style . If you are in the market for Mid-Century architecture in Palm Springs, you have come to the right place.
History of Mid-Century Architecture in Palm SpringsOften referred to as "Desert Modernism", this particular architectural style evolved as a response to the desert climate and spectacular mountain vistas found in the Palm Springs area. Palm Springs started to become a fashionable resort in the 1900s when tourists discovered how beneficial the dry heat and weather could be for one's health. As more people were attracted to the area, it became more and more luxurious, soon catching the eye of the Hollywood elite. By the late 1920s, everyone who was anyone was living or vacationing in Palm Springs. This influx of wealth and fame helped to fuel the style of the area, and architects began to use the city as a testing ground to explore innovations in design and construction. The emphasis was on a back-to-the-land experience, with homes that incorporated the best of the desert landscape and promoted leisure. Many important designers of the time were greatly influenced by the Bauhaus Movement and the International Style popularized by Frank Lloyd Wright. Out of this grew the Mid-Century Modern style, or "Desert Modernism", which perfectly combined elements that are elegant yet informal, all in keeping with the desert lifestyle.
Characteristics of Mid-Century Architecture in Palm Springs
Architects Who Created Mid-Century Architecture in Palm SpringsThe allure of the Southern California desert attracted many talented architects to the area by the 1920s. As celebrities and wealthy residents began to set down roots in the area, they commissioned these designers to build them striking custom homes as well as impressive commercial buildings and complexes. Notable architects who contributed to this popular movement include:
Alexander Homes in Palm Springs
Peraps the greatest contribution to Mid-Century architecture in Palm Springs was the arrival of the Alexander Construction Company in 1955. This father and son construction team worked with many architects, most notably William Krisel of the Los Angeles firm Palmer and Krisel, Inc., to bring the Mid-Century style to a wide swathe of Palm Springs residents. Between the years of 1955 - 1965 they constructed more than 2,500 homes in the modern style and are often given credit for doubling the size of the city. These Alexander homes used efficient planning and straightforward construction techniques to keep costs down and make these homes affordable to everyone. Their designs feature exposed roof planks, three-quarter walls to divide rooms, and no molding or trim. Though the firm used identical footprints on each home to keep down costs, they individualized each property on its site, giving them all a custom look. The homes are characterized by their signature A-frame or butterfly-shaped rooflines. Many of these homes were among the first in Palm Springs to have swimming pools, making the city much more enjoyable during the hot summer months.
Notable Examples of Mid-Century Architecture in Palm Springs
While the number of notable examples of Mid-Century architecture in Palm Springs is far too long to list all of them, here's a look at a few of the more famous public buildings and residences. Palm Springs Aerial Tramway (1 Tramway Road, Palm Springs) Built between 1949-1963, the "Palm Springs Tram" as it is known, is not only one of the great examples of Mid-Century architecture, but it also affords one of the most spectacular views of the area. The two properties that are part of the tram - the "Tramway Valley Station" entrance building and "The Tramway Mountain Station" at the top - were both designed by notable Mid-Century architects; Albert Frey and E. Stewart Williams, respectively. Tramway Gas Station (2901 N. Palm Canyon Drive, Palm Springs)
Now the home of the Palm Springs Visitors Center, the Tramway Gas Station was formerly the home of an Enco gas station. The building was constructed between 1963-1965 by Albert Frey & Robson C. Chambers and has a distinctive cantilevered canopy. The building fell into disrepair in the 1990s, but has since been restored to its former glory and can be admired by the general public while getting tourist information for the area at no charge. The Wexler Steel Houses (290 Simms Road; 300 & 330 E. Molino Road; 3100, 3125, 3133, 3165 Sunny View Drive, Palm Springs)
Donald Wexler was the first architect to blend the modernist ideal of steel homes with new prefabrication construction techniques. The result was a tract neighborhood in Palm Springs like no other. These homes rest on a concrete foundation with the remainder of the home being built around the center core of the bathroom and kitchen. The homes were built in two days and sold in 1961 for around $14,000 each. Six of the homes have been painstakingly refurbished and are now a Class 1 Historical Site. Elvis' Honeymoon Hideaway (1350 Ladera Circle, Palm Springs)
Designed by William Krisel in 1962, this home was once called "The House of Tomorrow" because of its extraordinary design. The home features a polygonal glass bedroom that seems to float beneath a bat-winged roofline. In 1966, Elivs Presley leased the home for one year, and after being wed to Priscilla in Las Vegas, he promptly brought her back here, carried her over the threshold and began their honeymoon. Kaufmann House (470 W. Vista Chino Road, Palm Springs)
Designed by Richard Neutra in 1946, the Kaufmann House is one of the architect's most famous and most photographed houses. The residence is privately owned, and was recently listed for sale at around $15 million. The architecture blends seamlessly into the surrounding environment, with large sliding glass walls that open the living spaces to the patios. The home has had some famous former owners including Barry Manilow and Eugene V. Klein, owner of the San Diego Chargers. This property is thought to be one of the most important houses of the 20th century in the United States. Palm Springs City Hall
Originally built in 1970 as City National Bank, the Palm Springs Post Office was designed by Victor Gruen Associates to attract the attention of the city's elite. The building is a mixture of stucco, wood, steel and glass with a curved roofline supported by sculpted walls. The interior features German slate flooring, Italian mosaic tile, Japanese grass cloth wall panels and Rhodesian lion's hair window treatments.
Neighborhoods to Find Mid-Century Architecture and Alexander Homes in Palm SpringsWhile Mid-Century architecture and Alexander homes are easy to spot all over Palm Springs, there are certain neighborhoods where these properties are concentrated. They include:
Palm Springs Modernism WeekPalm Springs Mid-Century modern architecture has become such an integral part of Palm Springs there is now an entire week devoted it. Palm Springs Modernism Week is an 11 day celebration of Mid-Century design, architecture and culture. The week is filled with events such as architectural tours, films, lectures, a symposium, educational events and fun parties in Palm Springs Mid-Century homes.
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copyright Claudine Messika 2007