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13i House of Tomorrow (Robert & Helene Alexander House), 1350 Ladera Cir
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Image by Kansas Sebastian
Palm Springs Mid-Century Modern.

In August, 2013, Greg and I trekked out to Palm Springs for a friend's birthday party – I know, an unforgivable time of year, unless you like 110 degrees and 75% humidity! While we were there, we decided to check out mid-century modern neighborhoods, considering retirement is just around the corner (10 years, assuming I'll be able to retire). What we saw, we liked. We left thinking, "Yeah, we could do this." But back at home, in Silver Lake, reality set in. The "Sure, why not?" turned into "Hell no!" Still, we love the architecture, and it's something to keep in mind. . .

01 – Title Page – Palm Springs Modern Committee (PS MODCOM) – A Map of Modern Palm Springs. But you'll have to plunk down the for your own copy, and support the cause like we did. Sorry.

02 – Racquet Club Estates, Racquet Club Drive & Via Miraleste, 1959 to 1961, William Krisel for the William Alexander Construction Company,– This was our first stop on our adventure. The Racquet Club Estates looks like a great neighborhood, on its way up (hopefully). The entire neighborhood looks almost like it's right out of the mind of the creator for the Jettson's. I especially loved the original garage doors.

03 – Alexander Steel Houses, Simms & Sunnyview (300 & 330 E Molino Rd, 3100, 3125, 3133, 3165 Sunny View Dr, & 290 Simms Rd), 1960 – 1962, Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison for the William Alexander Constriction Company. It's amazing how often the name "William Alexander" comes up when talking mid-century architecture in Palm Springs. Here he attempted something new – houses made of all steel. (I know, desert/steel. Right?) It turned out to be not such a hot idea (or rather, too hot of one). What had been planned as a whole subdivision, ended up realizing only 7 magnificent houses. Number 2 is even on the National Register of Historic Places. You can see some interesting stuff in the eligibility statement with the NPS:…

04 – Carey-Pizzoli House, 600 W Panorama Dr, 1946, Albert Frey. This is the kind of house you look at and think, "That's an ugly mid-1960's split-level ranch house. Why is it on the PS MODCOM map?" Then you read the description again, and think, "What? 1946?" Then you realize why it's on the list. It preceded the tract ranch houses by 20 years. The architect, Albert Frey, was visionary.

05 – Shapiro House, 711 W Panorama Dr, 1969, Michael Black. I'm not a fan of Michael Black, but the house is interesting, with the huge private interior courtyard and futuristic Star Wars design.

06 – Franz Alexander House, 1011 W Celio Dr, 1954, Walter White. I'm not so familiar with Walter White's work, probably because the numbers of structures are few. But what he did, he did well! This house is reminiscent of the early modernists like Neutra and Schindler (evidenced by the long band of windows facing the street and simplicity of design), yet predict the work of new masters like Gehry and Pie (evidenced by the wonderful pagoda roof and the use of common materials).

07 – Palevsky House, 1021 W Celio Dr, 1968, Craig Elwood. A classic modernist compound by a master of his trade.

08 – View of the Coachella Valley from W Celio Drive.

09 – Edris House, 1030 W Celio Dr, 1953, E Stewart Williams. With a commanding view of the Coachella Valley, this house is expertly designed to take in the amazing view. An inverted roof is held down by a rock chimney, anchoring the house to the cliff.

10 – Raymond-Loewy House, 600 W Panorama Rd, 1946, Albert Frey. Perfectly situation on the site, this striking house is nestled in behind boulders and trees for maximum privacy. It's Albert Frey at his best. Unfortunately, it's impossible to photograph from the street!

11 – Alexander-May House, 424 W Vista Chino Rd, 1952, Edward Fickett. Quintessential Fickett. Behind the added three-car garage, which now dominates the fa├žade, is the original modernist intent. His
ideas here (especially the entrance) would be widely used in many late 60's and early 70's designs.

12 – Kaufmann Desert House, 470 W Vista Chino Rd, 1946, Richard Neutra. He Kaufmann house is a work of art. This is the house which is most-often compared with Frank Lloyd Wright's Falling Water. What else can you say about Neutra's design that hasn't already been said? Nothing. It's perfect. Simply perfect. and

13 – House of Tomorrow (Robert & Helene Alexander House), 1350 Ladera Cir, 1962, William Krisel. It's a house! It's a plane! It's. . it's. . . different. I'm not sure what I expected from the "House of Tomorrow," but this wasn't quite it. It's more like the "House of Yesterday's Tomorrow." But it's still an innovated and charming house. Less charming was the owner's assistant trying to sell us on per person tour tickets, just to see where Elvis and Priscilla Presley slept on their honeymoon. Really?

14 – Las Palmas Estates, Camino Sur Rd & Via Vadera, 1950's, William Krisel and Charles DuBois (Separately). These houses are fanciful and fun, and for some inexplicable reason makes you think of Bedrock! Maybe they designed the houses from a neighborhood such as this.

15 – Dina Shore Estate, 432 Hermosa Rd, 1964, Donald Wexler. Not exactly forward thinking, rather it's a solid and well-executed example of large-scale residential mid-century modern architecture. It gives the initial impression of a school or library, with the extensive park grounds, but that only adds to the character.

16 – All Worlds Resorts. I couldn't resist. Here's how the rest of us live when we're on vacation.

Still, though, not bad.
For those interested in Palm Springs
mid-century architecture, there's a great website with more pictures:

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