Palm Springs is a prime destination of travelers from all over the world. It is located on the Western edge of the Coachella Valley in Riverside County, California. Many people visit this desert oasis to enjoy year-round sunshine and a wealth of indoor and outdoor activities. To mid century modern enthusiasts, Palm Springs is a Mecca for all things mid century modern – it is the oasis filled with numerous mid century modern architecture, shops and galleries.
Palm Springs has one of the largest concentrations of modern architecture in the United States. As early as the 1930’s and into the middle of the 20th century, many visionary architects were drawn to Palm Springs to create many public, commercial and residential buildings. A taste of the International Style was introduced to Palm Springs by European-born architects such as Robert Neutra and Albert Frey. Architects (e.g. Richard Neutra, Albert Frey, John Porter Clark, William F. Cody, E. Stewart Williams, and Donald Wexler) in Palm Springs developed their own regional style called “Desert Modernism.”
The unique style of Palm Springs architecture can be spotted as soon as you enter town. If you are driving into Palm Springs from east, you will be welcomed by Albert Frey’s (with a collaboration with Robson Chambers) Tramway Gas Station, now the Palm Springs Visitors Center. If you are flying into Palm Springs, you will be welcomed by Donald Wexler’s Palm Springs Airport building. Other notable landmarks include: Palm Springs City Hall (1967), Palm Springs Aerial Tramway Valley Station (1963), Kaufmann House (1946), Del Marcos Hotel (1946), Palm Springs Tennis Club (1946), and so forth. There are also many neighborhoods such as Twin Palms Estates, Racquet Club Road Estates, Las Palmas Estates that feature mid century modern tract homes that are now sought after by many mid century modern enthusiasts.
You may take a self-guided tour to see these Desert Modernism/mid century masterpieces in your own eyes. A printed map called “A Map of Modern Palm Springs” by the Palm Springs Modern Committee is available at the Palm Springs Visitors Center, located on 2901 North Palm Canyon Drive and a store called “Just Fabulous,” located on 515 North Palm Canyon Drive. You may also try “PS Modern Tours” run by Robert Imber (760-318-6118) who provides a three-hour van tour that hits the hot spots and some hideaways. If you are unable to visit in person, there are many books on Palm Springs Modernism are available.