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Architectural Gems: Resort Edition

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Midcentury Resorts of Palm Springs

By Kevin Perry

Palm Springs is a landscape crafted in luxury and dominated by style. Our midcentury roots flourish into modern masterpieces, affirming our reputation as one of the world’s foremost tastemakers in architecture.

But unlike other sterile destinations that must be admired from afar, Palm Springs has a lived-in appeal. Our midcentury resorts are as inviting as they are innovative, making your next stay a true work of art. Peruse the following structures and book your future trip at a throwback wonderland…

The Desert Star

The Desert Star

Its playfully canted rooftops waltz in an endless intersection of whimsy and nostalgia, guiding your eyes to scan every meticulous surface of Howard Lapham’s 1954 triumph. Desert Star lives up to its name, shimmering with an olive green façade that is punctuated by Day Glo orange accents, but the vibrant colors belie the placid serenity of this tranquil foothill getaway.

L' Horizon Hotel

L’Horizon Hotel and Spa

This truly is a tale of two bungalows (or 20, to be more precise). This midcentury resort design harkens back to the excess glamour of 1952, when it was first conceived by legendary architect William F. Cody, then resurrected in 21st century glory by designer/owner Steve Hermann. L’Horizon’s muted mix of white stone and wood frames screams elegance (but in a refined whisper). Past guests include Marilyn Monroe and presidents Nixon and Reagan; it is a true California landmark, then, now and forever.

The Hideaway

The Hideaway

Once described as an “ultra-modern motor court inn,” this unassuming midcentury gem lays low to the ground while ascending to new heights of old-school grandeur. Herbert Burns crafted The Hideaway in 1947, but the flair of its sweeping patio parasols is as fresh as a cocktail umbrella and twice as intoxicating. With 70 plus years of style under its belt, this destination defies categorization. You’ll love your stay in this midcentury resort within walking distance of downtown Palm Springs.

Orbin In guest room

Orbit In

A short stroll down Arenas Road from The Hideaway, you’ll find its sister seductress, Orbit In. Also designed by Herbert Burns (but a full decade later), this 1957 midcentury monument is a love letter to simplicity. But just when you think you’ve got its aesthetic figured out, the Orbit In surprises and dazzles with unexpected pops like a pink tiled bathroom or a Jetsons inspired space-age furniture set. Midcentury goes modern, indeed.

The Weekend

The Weekend

The Weekend, Palm Springs is a small mid-century modern luxury boutique resort located in the center of the celebrity studded Old Las Palmas neighborhood. Originally built in the 1960’s it has just now undergone a multimillion dollar renovation. Upon entering you are transported to a chic and timeless space, that while modern, is rooted in the mid-century 60’s ethos that made Palm Springs the stylish getaway for Hollywood’s elite. All of the accommodation’s offer either one or two bedroom villas, with spacious living rooms and private patios in which to relax and complimentary continental breakfast. In the 1970’s fitness guru Sheila Cluff transformed the property into a spa called The Palms.

Del Marcos

Del Marcos

Towering over the competition like the redwoods from which it is constructed, this William Cody creation dates back to 1947. Every room evokes a golden age of Palm Springs luminosity, from the Errol Flynn Suite (sprawling, understated) to the Shaken Not Stirred Room (intriguing, seductive) to the Hope & Crosby Room (cozy, familiar). You’ll feel like Hollywood royalty, right here in the heart of the Historic Tennis Club neighborhood. Love-love!

Triangle Inn

Triangle Inn

Our hometown is a living museum of innovation and intricate design, and Hugh Kaptur exemplifies this spirit of creativity in this midcentury resort gem. The last surviving giant of midcentury modernism, Kaptur built his first Palm Springs structure in 1958. It was known as The Impala Lodge, a fitting name for such an exotic creature, festooned with angular beauty and spare quirks. Over the ensuing decades, it would become an apartment complex and then revert to its resort foundations before being lovingly restored and re-imagined as a clothing optional gay retreat. No matter how many incarnations the Triangle Inn has racked up, its ingenious assemblage of stone and glass stands as an eternal homage to Kaptur’s limitless vision.

From gangster getaways to celebrity hideaways, Palm Springs is a beacon of desert sophistication. The aforementioned structures map out an oasis of awe-inspiring abodes. Welcome to the best of then, circa now.

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This included bubble wrapping portions of the home and having docents in every room. Department store owner Edgar Kaufmann hired architect Richard Neutra to design a desert home for his family. A decade earlier, Frank Lloyd Wright had built Fallingwater for Mr. Kaufmann. But Kaufmann, having seen Taliesin West, thought that Wright didn’t understand desert design and chose Neutra instead. The home turned out so well, that when Wright saw it, he admitted to that is was beautiful (uncharacteristic of him). The building remains the most famous in Palm Springs in terms of international recognition. The flat roof, steel frame, and glass walls embody one prominent version of Modernism by using sharp, clean, lines and contrasting them to the rugged slopes of Mt. San Jacinto as a backdrop. When photographed by Julius Shulman, the Kaufmann House became an iconic image of modern architecture. The north wing is the guest’s quarters, separated from the rest of the house. The secluded west wing is the service wing. It would be purchased by Joseph and Nelda Linsk. She was the glamorous woman wearing yellow depicted in legendary photographer Slim Aaron’s iconic photograph highlighting the good life in Palm Springs, dubbed “Poolside Gossip.” In 1968, Eugene and Francis Klein, owners of the San Diego Chargers, purchased it. Then in 1973, Barry Manilow purchased the property and owned it until 1993. Beth and Brent Harris become the new owners and were eager to restore the property.They found a home once originally open and light-filled now dense and dark thanks to 2,200 square feet of additions that turned courtyards into interior spaces. The iconic upstairs room visible from the street, an open-air deck that really is one of the house's main features, had its views of mountains and palm trees blocked by air-conditioning compressors. Linsk addition, designed by William Cody, was compatible and relatively seamless, but removed the glass corridor to the master bedroom and drastically reduced the amount of light to the interior. Modernist furnishings selected by Neutra were replaced with those chosen by prominent Palm Springs interior designer Arthur Elrod. The Harris’s dismantled the crumbling fireplaces and numbering each stone for reassembly. To repair gashes in the walls of Utah sandstone, the firm convinced the original quarry in Utah to return to a long-closed portion of its site so the color and texture of the new stone would match that of the old. To find a source for mica, a crystalline sand which workers applied to the house's exterior to provide a subtle, starry-night glow, the architects had to work with the U.S. Bureau of Mines. Can I Visit? The Kaufmann House is privately owned and not available for tours or a rental. However, you can take a peek of the home by driving by 470 West Vista Chino. Canyon View Estates This is where Alice and Jack live in the film. Their residence was on a circular cul-de-sac with their neighbors’ houses facing inwards on the perimeter. For filming at this location, every driveway had to be cleared for blocks and blocks of non-period elements. This affected the daily routine for hundreds of people and property owners. Canyon View Estates was designed by Dan Palmer and William Krisel. These local architects also designed Ocotillo Lodge, Las Palmas Estates, Kings Point and Racquet Club Estates. The “House of Tomorrow” was designed by Krisel for Robert Alexander and his wife Helen. They made it their personal residence and lived in it until their premature death in a plane crash in 1965. The house later gained fame as the honeymoon home of Elvis and Priscilla Presley. The design of these quaint one-story duplex-style condominiums offered floor-to-ceiling windows, and characteristic Palm Springs geometric stonework. 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Although a collaborative effort with the local architectural firm of Williams and Williams, the building’s initial phase was primarily the design work of John Porter Clark and Albert Frey. An unusual detail of the council chamber is its corner treatment consisting of projecting concrete blocks cut at a diagonal at every other paired row, which allows the blocks to cast light and shadow. Albert Frey was a leading early architect to Palm Springs and left a large design footprint on the city. His own residence, Frey House II, is also an architecturally significant building as was willed to the Palm Springs Art Museum upon his death. It is perched above Palm Springs with sweeping views and is available for tours through the museum. Can I Visit? Palm Springs City Hall is a popular spot on Palm Springs’ midcentury modern design tours, but visitors are also welcome to walk around and take photos. It is located at 3200 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way. Palm Springs Visitor Center Look for the Palm Springs Visitor Center, which was also shown briefly in the film. Like City Hall, it was also designed by architect Albert Frey. In 1965, it began as an Esso gas station situated in North Palm Springs. With a swooping and wing-shaped roof, it immediately captures the attention of visitors as they arrive in the city. In the 1990s, the building was converted into an art gallery, and subsequently taken over by the Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism.

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