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Make Plans to Visit Palm Springs Mid-Century Modern Architecture Sites
When thinking about places featuring Mid-Century Modern architecture, Palm Springs, CA, might very well come up in conversation. Considered by many as one of the top destinations for this style of design, the Southern California city has a lot to offer to get you inspired for your next project.
Because Mid-Century Modern architecture is so prevalent throughout the area, being in Palm Springs “really feels like you have stepped back in time,” notes Christopher Kennedy, a Palm Springs designer with a retail shop in the city’s Uptown Design District.
Uptown Design District, courtesy of VisitPalmSprings.com
According to Visit Palm Springs, the city came about through western expansion. From there, people seeking refuge and relief from health issues and Hollywood stars came to the town. “These early settlers of Palm Springs were beautiful and glamorous, and here, they were on vacation,” Kennedy says.
Palm Springs Design
Those stars, Kennedy explains, were commissioning homes from architects who were using the area as a living laboratory, taking post-and-beam construction principles and applying them to the California climate. “It is all about ‘How can these structures open up and become part of the landscape?’”
Starting in the 1950s, architects worked with developers to build affordable vacation homes in the modern style for the time, now called Mid-Century. Palm Springs experienced a heyday from the 1950s into the 1980s, when it was a popular spring break designation, Kennedy explains.
Then new growth and business moved to nearby Palm Desert, and Mid-Century architecture wasn’t popular, until the early 2000s, when Mid-Century style experienced a comeback. “The style has come to be appreciated again and a large number of our homes have been restored,” he says.
The Rowan lobby, courtesy of Palm Springs Bureau of Tourism
It’s not just residential buildings in Palm Springs that have that mid-century vibe. The style is present throughout the city, in construction both old and new. A new downtown is taking shape, which includes the Kimpton Rowan Hotel, the location of Design Connections.
If you’re planning a trip to Palm Springs, for Design Connections or otherwise, Kennedy offers some can’t-miss sites.
Mid-Century Modern Architecture
For those with a little time looking to see the architectural sites of Palm Springs, Kennedy suggests driving through the main street, Palm Canyon Drive, including these spots:
- The south end: Features public architecture, including two iconic bank buildings – one is now a Bank of America and the other is Chase.
- The middle: “In the heart of our downtown, we are experiencing some inspiring new construction — including the Kimpton hotel, some wonderful public art installations and interesting retail. The Palm Springs Art Museum, which houses a world-class permanent collection, is definitely worth a visit.”
- Uptown Design District: One mile north, several of the nation's top vintage furniture dealers have storefronts.
While shopping, pick up a map with the addresses and locations of many of the city's historic homes like Frank Sinatra's Twin Palms estate, the Elvis Honeymoon house and the Dinah Shore Estate.
Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway, courtesy of VisitPalmSprings.com
Palm Springs Pink Door. Credit Katy Carrier, courtesy of Palm Springs Style
See All Palm Springs Beauty
Palm Springs is not only open in terms of architecture, but it is open in spirit, Kennedy says.
“We embrace diversity, we embrace creativity, we celebrate beauty,” he says. “The California desert is a very spiritual place. In addition to its architectural legacy, Palm Springs also has a long history of healing and rejuvenation that goes back to the indigenous people who settled the area, and I hope that visitors will feel it.”