Linear, low-level buildings, pops of colour and perfectly manicured gardens are synonymous with the Californian desert oasis, Greater Palm Springs, which will celebrate its mid-century architecture throughout Modernism Week, taking place 15 – 25 February.
Throughout the week, visitors to the desert oasis will be able to tour the official Modernism Week Showcase Home, Moroccan Modern, a custom-built home from 1975 that was designed by architect Hal Lacy, and has recently been renovated to modern luxury. Whilst dedicated Architecture Bus Tours and mid-century home interior tours take place throughout Modernism Week, design fans can worship the mid-century modern masterpieces sprawled across Greater Palm Springs throughout the year with Palm Springs Mod Squad, who operate a Martini and Mid Century Architecture Tour; The Interiors Tour and The Essential Palm Springs Tour.
Here’s seven of the best architecture finds in Greater Palm Springs you can see year-round:
The ultimate celebrity home – Sinatra Twin Palms Estate
Designed by E. Stewart Williams in 1947 for Frank Sinatra and his first wife, Nancy Barbato, this mid-century modern gem is a designated Class 1 Historic Site, located in Palm Springs’ Movie Colony. The Twin Palms Estate is available to rent as a luxury holiday home, for weddings and as a film set, as well as being available for private tours. Sinatra, who arguably put Palm Springs on the map in the 1940s, originally requested a Georgian-style mansion, but was swayed by architect, E. Stewart Williams to have a more ‘desert appropriate’ design, for which he paid $150,000. This mid-century property set the design standard for post-war Hollywood glamour and became a familiar backdrop for celebrity gatherings and, of course, Sinatra’s famous cocktail hour.
The one for Instagramming – That Pink Door
A self-guided Palm Springs Door Tour is back for its second Modernism Week, which will visit the colourful doors throughout the city by bike. That pink door in particular has become an Instagram hit, garnering more than 2,600 followers (@thatpinkdoor).
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The bubblegum pink door fronts a residential home on East Sierra Way and has become the most photographed door in the city. Owned and painted by interior designer, Moises Esquenazi between 2004 and 2008, the current owners opted to keep the pretty pastel frontage.
The one with its own labyrinth – Sunnylands, Rancho Mirage
The former desert home of Walter and Leonore Annenberg, Sunnylands was built in the 1960s and has welcomed a plethora of famous guests, including eight presidents and Queen Elizabeth II, in addition to starring as the wedding venue of Frank and Barbara Sinatra in 1976. Now managed by the Annenberg Trust, visitors can take a tour of the historic house or enjoy the Sunnylands Center, which was designed by the estate’s original architect, A. Quincy Jones, with a signature mid-century modern flat roof, outdoor trellises, exposed columns and two 16 foot high lava stone walls, quarried in Utah. Visitors can also peruse the gardens which feature over 70 species of perfectly aligned native plants along with a labyrinth winding through trailing smokebush, which is popular as a place for contemplation.
The one you can stay in – L’Horizon
L’Horizon was originally designed in 1952 by renowned architect, William F. Cody as a private family retreat for Hollywood mogul, Jack Wrather and his actress wife, Bonita Granville. With 25 guest houses, the retreat characterised by its low-slung bungalows was built as a getaway for their Hollywood friends – including Betty Grable, Marilyn Monroe and President Reagan – to relax by the poolside. Now redeveloped as a luxury resort, designed by Steve Hermann, who is renowned for high-end celeb homes across the world, guests can stay in one of the 25 mid-century modern bungalows, all with their own personality, or in The Residence, Wrather’s former abode, with chic 50’s interior styling.
The celeb hangout – The Parker
Celebrity hotspot, The Parker Palm Springs features bold colours, metallic accents and mismatched patterns to achieve a mid-century modern feel synonymous with the local area. The briese soleil (breeze block) frontage of The Parker is perhaps its most photographed asset and stands out from the property’s desert surround of palm trees and the San Jacinto mountains. Originally California’s first Holiday Inn, the property has undergone a number of guises, becoming The Parker Palm Springs in 2004 and designed by architect, Jonathan Adler. The Parker Palm Springs has 131 guest rooms and 12 one bedroom villas with two restaurants and two bars on site. The property hosts a star-studded after party for the Palm Springs Film Festival and is regularly frequented by A-list celebrities, including Brad Pitt and the Kardashians.
The one fit for purpose – Palm Springs Art Museum’s Architecture and Design Center
Housed in a 1961 E. Stewart Williams-designed bank, the third location for the Palm Springs Art Museum – which focuses on architecture and design – has been welcoming visitors since 2011. The museum, an architectural triumph inside and out, features architecture and design exhibitions throughout the year, with a design-centric gift shop to take some inspiration home with you.
Visit www.visitgreaterpalmsprings.com to plan your visit to Greater Palm Springs.
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