A couple of weekends ago, I was joined by my lovely mother in Palm Springs for a tour of Modernism Week. We had selected a walking tour featuring Modern Commercial Structures of Fashion and Finance. Our tour guide was very knowledgeable, and we found the tour to be both interesting and informative. The tour was offered through Modernism Week but hosted by Palm Springs Historical Society. There were people from all over the country and even Canada that joined us to view some of the buildings that line Indian Canyon Road and Palm Canyon Drive in Palm Springs.
Side note: If you go down to P.S. on your own, make sure to hit the Palm Springs Visitors Center and pick up a handy $5 map of “Modern Palm Springs.” That handy little thing is like GOLD to you MCM nuts out there. It has a detailed map numbered with 82 different points of interest, both residential and commercial. Each of those 82 points are listed and have a small description featuring address, year built, and architect info. JACKPOT!!!!
This Union Bank above doesn’t look like much from the outside, but when you get to the terra-cotta wall that faces the street (500 S. Palm Canyon) you’ll see a beautiful story in pictures of Palm Springs history from it’s very beginning to modern-day. This location was an excellent example of desert modernism, as the rock façade (not pictured) incorporates the use of desert elements.
This Bank of America (formerly City National Bank) building is not what you’d typically expect in MCM architecture, but exhibits use of mid-century modern components. “Brise-soleil” (pronounced bree-soh-ley) is an architectural element popular at the time that shielded the building from direct sunlight, but still allowed filtered light to enter the space. The reflection you see in the windows on the above-right photo used to be covered by a geometrically patterned brise-soleil as seen below.
Anyway….I’m skipping some…but saving the best two for last.
Coachella Valley Savings and Loan (now known as Chase Bank) and it’s parabolas blew me away….
And the former Santa Fe Savings building was under renovation and will be unveiled soon and will serve as a museum. Can’t wait to get back and see it after completion.
If you’re into mid-century modern architecture, a visit to Palm Springs is an absolute must. There is such a large concentration of original buildings that have been lovingly preserved and thoughtfully restored. Hooray for preservation!
The next Modernism Week is the biggest as far as tourist turn-out and tour offerings. It is in February 2014 and features more tours than you can shake a stick at. If you’re into mid-century modernism, desert modernism, or celebrity playgrounds of yore, get your butt out to Palm Springs. Some of the tours are already sold out….so if you want to go, you must get your tickets asap! Go to Modernism Week 2014.