Travel

Palm Desert Architecture Tour

This year, in honour of Modernism Week, we climbed atop the double decker bus for the 4th Annual Palm Desert Architecture Tour. Funny enough, our tour guide was from Vancouver.

Palm Desert, we learn, was about ‘the glamourous good life of Twentieth Century America.’ A string of renowned architects solidified the style known as ‘Desert Modernism.’ They embraced the need to create buildings that complimented the landscape.

Our tour left from outside the Galen Museum, the first LEED certified building in the area.
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We drove first by the Sandpiper condo complex, designed by William Krisel and built between 1958-69 on 55 acres of desert. It was Bing Crosby – honorary ‘mayor’ of Palm Desert – who turned the first sand in promoting the development.
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Patten & Wild, designers of the orange-doored house below, also built a house for Frank Sinatra.
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In designing The College of the Desert, lead architect John Porter Clark brought in an impressive group of colleagues that included Albert Frey, Donald Wexler, John Carl Warnecke and E. Porter Williams. The slender College pillars were to invoke the trunks of the surrounding palm trees while the colour was to reflect the desert sand.
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Our bus then set east on Highway 111 towards Indian Wells.
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In 1956, Walter White built the George Mitchell House. His goal was to create residences that were innovative yet affordable. The first house below was designed to be angled towards the view.

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Here is the self-designed house of William Boyd, aka Hopalong Cassidy. The backyard pool was complimented by a black and white bar with Western saddle stools.
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Palm Desert Presbyterian Church was built in 1958 by Howard Morgridge.
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The famous Marrakesh Country Club estates grew out of a dreamy visit to Morrocco by golfer Johnny Dawson and his wife, Velma – interior designer, puppeteer and creator of Howdy Doody. They brought in architect, John Elgin Woolf, to create  a Hollywood Regency haven. The well-tended Marrakesh homes are still home to style enthusiasts – architects, interior designers, fashion designers.
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A 1960’s house from architect John F. Outcault.
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This is a peek into the Bill Kemp House, aka ‘The Lost Krisel’, more recently confirmed to have been designed by William Krisel.
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And, finally, the 7,000 square foot Firestone Estate, built in 1950 by architect William Pereira, who also designed the Transamerica Tower in San Francisco.
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It was a wonderful tour and we’ll look forward to our next Modernism Week adventure.

Written by Elizabeth Newton
www.creatorsvancouver.com

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Elizabeth Newton

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