It’s near impossible to not notice the iconic Palm Springs architecture blanketing this desert city. From mid-century modern-style homes, bank buildings and gas stations, even the architecture in Palm Springs has star-power. And that’s not only referring to the many celebrity residents that have molded and shaped this town to look the way it does. That’s including these amazing designing minds behind the buildings themselves.
Desert Modernism is all about clean and sharp lines, while blurring the connection between inside and out, using glass and natural resources. Palm Springs architecture represents a lifestyle. A breezy afternoon spent by the pool, large open picture-windows framing the desert landscape, and bold butterfly rooflines cutting the skyline. You’ll find amazing Palm Springs architecture all over town, here we’ll point out a few that are particularly noteworthy.
Our historic Palms Springs Hotel is its own architectural gem in the desert. Not only is the Inn designated as a “Class 1” historical site, it’s also considered one of the oldest buildings of the area. Designed by architect William Dodd in 1925, The Willows was originally built for The Mead family as a private desert retreat. Dodd chose a Mediterranean-style villa for this undertaking, which fits beautifully into the stark desert landscape.
You’ll Find Amazing Palm Springs Architecture Everywhere
Fortunately, discovering great Palm Springs architecture isn’t hard, because it’s all around town. There are particular neighborhoods that have some standout examples. As well as a few more famous landmarks, such as Marilyn Monroe’s home or the Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway. Overall, there’s no shortage of cool, retro Palm Springs architecture to seek out on your time here, but here’s a small guide to get you started:
- Kaufmann Desert House: This home designed by Richard Neutra is often referred to as a design that helped define the modernist movement in the Palm Springs architecture community. Commissioned by Edgar J. Kaufmann, who was a businessman with ties to Frank Lloyd Wright, the modern house was completed in 1946.
- Racquet Club Estates: This historic neighborhood on the north side of Palm Springs is full of mid-century modern homes. The first homes in the complex were completed in 1959 and many of the original owners were Hollywood celebrities of that era. The majority of the homes were designed by William Krisel, who is well-known as a pioneer in modernist architecture.
- Alexander Construction Company Steel Houses: The Alexander Construction Company paired up with architects Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison to design a neighborhood of Steel Houses. Only seven of these pre-fabricated homes made the final build out stage due to the cost of materials, but now stand as a “class 1” historical site.
- Palm Springs Aerial Tramway: This landmark is known as a feat of engineering and architectural planning for the time period. The Aerial Tramway takes guests 6,000 feet up the San Jacinto Mountains serving up some of the most amazing views. The tramway was designed by Albert Frey, now known as one of the most key modernist architects of his time.
- Frey House II: Now under the umbrella of the Palm Springs Art Museum, Albert Frey’s private residence built into the hillside of San Jacinto Mountain is a museum in and of itself. The design was before its time with the completion in 1964. One of the stand out elements is the inclusion of a boulder from the landscape which protrudes into the house making a natural border between rooms.
Even the Palm Springs Visitor Center is Iconic Architecture
The Visitor Center stands as a testament to Palm Springs architecture. Originally, this building was the very stylish Tramway Gas Station designed by Albert Frey, but now it greets visitors from all over the world. The strong angle of the roof cuts the landscape of the blue sky and the natural desert mountains in half. Stop by the Palm Springs Visitor Center before you head out on a tour of the local Palm Springs architecture. You’ll find maps of the area and tips for the best touring routes of the Desert Modernist standouts.
Beautiful Palm Springs Architecture at Our Boutique Hotel
While our Palm Springs boutique hotel might not be designed in the modernist-style, it’s still a stunning example of architecture. Architect William Dodd planned the romantic Mediterranean villa to fit perfectly into its surroundings, while taking advantage of the sweeping views of the Coachella Valley. Producing outdoor space on inviting terraces and special areas to enjoy the sun, gardens, and shade.
Inside The Willows, the high-end finishes of rich mahogany, ironwork, limestone, and vintage Spanish tile, pull together to create the most elegant of designs. This translates into each and everyone of our 17 guest suites—all with unique touches and tasteful decor. The Rock Room even has an homage to the modernist techniques, by including a boulder that extends into the corner of the expansive shower.