Sandpiper Condominium Circles 11 and 12 Designated a Palm Desert Historic District

Sandpiper Palm Desert! Sandpiper Condominium complex has just become one of Palm Desert’s most significant architectural residential communities.  This past spring, Palm Desert City Council unanimously voted Sandpiper Condominium Circles 11 and 12 – built in 1965 by the renowned architects Palmer & Krisel — as an Historic District. Palm Springs Preservation Foundation member Jim Harlan authored the nomination with the enthusiastic support of Sandpiper homeowners Barbara and Bernie Cain and Jim West. The process began last December and was successfully given approval this year. Sandpiper was conceived as a low-density community and designed for maximum privacy and mountain views with pools, spas, a putting green and wide green belts amid lush landscaping.  Located at the west end of now famous El Paseo, today, it is within walking distance to some of the desert’s most trendy restaurants, galleries, shops, and malls. While all of the buildings within the Sandpiper complex are […]

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J.W. Robinson Department Store Gains Class 1 Historic Site Status

J.W. Robinson Department Store Gains Class 1 Historic Site Status

Last week, the Palm Springs City Council voted unanimously to designate the J.W. Robinson’s Department Store building a Class 1 Historic Site.               www.pspreservationfoundation.org. The free-standing building on South Palm Canyon Drive at West Baristo with its dramatic elevated entrance and graceful pavilion style, is an important component of historic trends that have come to define Palm Springs as an epicenter of midcentury architecture. Designed by the Los Angeles architectural firm of Charles Luckman Associates and William Pereira in 1957-58, the building received a National Honors Award that same year by the American Institute of Architects, one of the most prestigious architectural awards ever given to any Palm Springs project, commercial or residential. Last year, the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation (PSPF) launched an initiative to author Class 1 Historic Site recommendations for various commercial and residential buildings throughout Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.  The […]

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Oops, There Goes The Neighborhood… Safeguarding Unique Mid Century Modern Tracts

Wexler Roof

Almost every development of modern homes faces the eventual challenge of keeping its architectural integrity.  But as Mid-Century Modernism wins more fans, residents are banning together to save their neighborhoods’ unique look and character. Since Modernism is a subtle style, it is easily compromised:   Adding a carriage style outdoor light fixture in lieu of an original hour-glass one, or tearing down artistic block to erect an adobe wall can easily change a home or neighborhood’s look. In an Eichler network story by Dave Weinstein, Streetscape Smarts, he notes that, “The other major challenge to preserving modern neighborhoods is their age.  Many landmarking laws only kick in if a building is at least 50.” www.eichlernetwork.com www.pspreservationfoundation.org The City of Palm Springs is already way ahead of that game with its Office of Neighborhood Involvement that provides residents with “responsive, coordinated services that promote and support collaboration and communications through recognized neighborhoods.” […]

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Celebrating the Masters: Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion

Ever since the Palm Springs Art Museum acquired the former Santa Fe Federal Savings and Loan building on Palm Canyon Drive last June, and announced plans to transform the bank into an architecture and design museum, a ground swell of support has been growing.  The concept has also garnered considerable national and media attention. The museum is currently raising funds for the rehabilitation of the Class 1 Historic modern building, to create a first-in-the-county free-standing architectural museum, housed in a modernist building and owned by a museum. To date, a Founders Group of some 30 prestigious leaders and entrepreneurs have signed on.  The museum is seeking at least 100 founding members, each pledging a $25K commitment payable over three years. www.psmuseum.org Designed by renowned Mid-Century Modern architect E. Stewart Williams, this new annex of the museum will be devoted to architecture and design exhibitions, programs, archive study space and will […]

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The Desert Modernism Experience – Cool Things To Do in The Desert in July

Desert Modernism is more than a style, it’s a lifestyle that is best experienced at your leisure.  In fact, Desert Modernism practically invented the idea of “leisure.” Living both indoors and out inspired the idea of casual living. Since Desert folks dig the heat, July won’t faze you; rest assured, there are plenty of cool events, places to go, things to do while grooving in the Desert Modernism experience. Stay at the newly renovated Saguaro Hotel that is infused with bold color.  A palette of 12 vibrant tones found in native desert wildflowers bathe balconies, guest rooms and abstract metal works as the color spectrum changes during the time of day. Iron Chef Jose Garces, a James Beard Award winner and one of the country’s best young chefs, created two new restaurants at Saguaro:  Tinto and El Jefe.  Inspired by the Basque region of Northern Spain and Southern France, Tinto […]

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Steel Pre-Fab Homes Make Resurgence in Palm Springs

“Today, people think of a large box looking like a trailer when you say ‘pre -fab home,’” said David McAdam of Blue Sky Building Systems. “But pre-fabricated steel homes really started with Don Wexler in 1961 when he built six or seven steel houses in Palm Springs.  The pre-fabricated steel pieces were brought in and assembled on site.” www.blueskybuildingsystems.com Working with Lance O’Donnell’s o2 Architecture firm, Blue Sky Building System is just completing the first steel pre-fab home in Palm Springs since the 1960s. www.o2arch.com The 1,700 square foot home for clients Brett Gilbert and Glenn Troost replaces a distressed 1930s home that had been “badly bastardized and highly compromised” in the Ruth Hardy Park area.  O’Donnell suggested the concept. “In the case of this house, the question was why remodel an existing structure with all its problems when you can replace it with an energy-efficient home for about the […]

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Wexler’s Steel Development House No. 2 Now Listed on National Register of Historic Places

Mid-Century Modern Architecture - Palm springs

Architect Donald Wexler’s Steel Development House No. 2 — located on North Sunny View Drive —  is the first midcentury structure in Palm Springs to be listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The house received national distinction March 30, 2012 after current homeowner, Brian McGuire, a member of the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation, applied to the California Office of Historic Preservation, providing many qualified letters in support.  The nomination was unanimously recommended, and the director of the National Park Service accepted the nomination. “As midcentury modernism continues to mature as an important aspect of America’s architectural heritage, it is increasingly important to raise awareness at the national level of Palm Springs’ incredible wealth of modernist structure,” said Ron Marshall, PSPF president.  “What better place to start than architect Don Wexler’s U.S. Steel House project, which is now 50 years old.” www.pspreservationfoundation.org Designed by Wexler and built by the […]

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Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony Atop the Tram on Dec. 4

A monumental Mid-Century landmark, the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway continues to play an important part in the Coachella Valley’s tourism industry as major attraction and a visible beacon from the mountain signaling seasonal events to residents below. The official Palm Springs Aerial Tramway’s Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony will be on Sunday, December 4. Actor and comedian Ronnie Schell will be the Celebrity Tree Lighter and  festivities begin at the Mountain Station at 5:30pm with the Palm Springs High School Choir singing a selection of holiday songs. When the tree is lit, it can be seen throughout the Coachella Valley. Both the Valley Station and Mountain Station will be festively decorated. For Tram admission tickets and more information, visit www.pstramway.com. One of Palm Springs most famous attractions, Tramway is a compelling demonstration of form and function, proving Modernism’s relevance today. Modernism is not only beautiful and dramatic, it is highly […]

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