Plant Prefab, a Southern California-based construction company specializing in prefabricated residential design, completed the first accessory dwelling unit (ADU) designed by its in-house design studio. Named LivingHome 10, the ADU was first unveiled during this year’s Modernism Week in downtown Palm Springs and was shown to the tens of thousands of visitors that attended the 10-day event. LivingHome 10 was unveiled a year after Plant Prefab commissioned industrial designer Yves Béhar to design the LivingHome YB1, a fully-customizable ADU. While the lowest asking price for YB1 was over $296,000 when it was first debuted, LivingHome 10 is nearly half the price at $154,000. With a mere 496 square feet of interior living space, the modestly-sized ADU tucks storage away using built-in furniture with concealed handles that make them imperceptible upon first glance. The self-contained living space includes a full-sized kitchen, a bathroom, a bedroom large enough for a queen-sized bed, and a living room that spills out into an optional deck via a multi-slide glass entry. Smart home technology features are embedded throughout the home, including Sense Energy Monitoring, Lutron Smart Dimmers, and a voice-controlled smart home system from Amazon that will become a standard feature in every subsequent LivingHome model. “Following our investment in Plant Prefab last year," said David Jackson, director of Smart Home at Amazon, “we are delighted to continue collaborating with Plant Prefab to deliver convenient smart home experiences in every LivingHome. From the day they move in, homeowners can rely on Alexa to help make daily household tasks more convenient, offer peace of mind while at home or away, and more.” LivingHome 10 is among the first produced by the Plant Prefab to employ its Plant Building System (PBS), a patented method for prefabricating residences using a combination of modular units and a panelized construction system known as ‘Plant Panels.’ These panels are designed to be assembled like building blocks and include electrical, plumbing and finish materials along with framing and insulation. According to the company, the PBS system provides greater design flexibility than previous prefabrication systems, but can also lower overall costs while reducing building time and construction waste. And unlike traditional modular construction, which limits transportation and installation options by assembling the entire home offsite, the PBS system transports living spaces separate from plumbing and mechanical cores to allow ADUS to be delivered and assembled in more restrictive spaces.
Posts tagged with "Palm Springs":
Amid the constellation of golf courses, country clubs, and shopping centers of Palm Desert, California, is a modestly sized home with a less-than-modest street presence. The Wave House, a 900-square-foot home originally built by architect Walter S. White in 1954 for artist Miles C. Bates, is one of the rare midcentury modern homes that effectively captures the era’s penchant for surfing culture with a semi-open floor plan beneath a single, uninterrupted wave-like roof. After trading hands several times following Bates’ sale of the home in 1962, the Wave House was eventually purchased by the City of Palm Desert’s Redevelopment Agency in 2008 and was auctioned off ten years later during Modernism Week, an advocacy and educational festival based in Palm Springs. Members of Los Angeles-based firm Stayner Architects won the auction with a top bid of $360,000 with plans of a thorough restoration of the home. Two years later, the home made its debut during Modernism Week 2020 following its recent approval to be added to the National Register of Historic Places. “We are so pleased to give the Wave House back to the public,” Stayner Architects founder Christian Stayner said in a press statement. “For us, historic preservation is not about ‘turning back the clock.’ Preservation is a way to honor the original design as well as the life the house has seen throughout its 64 years. It’s about allowing the house to exist across multiple time periods rather than making it an archive of the past. The Wave House is not so much a time capsule as it is a timeless space.” Read the full project profile on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
A replica of the Walker Guest House, the first structure independently designed by the late architect Paul Rudolph, will be sold through Heritage Auctions’ February Design auction on February 25. Commissioned by the Sarasota Architectural Foundation (SAF), the 576-square-foot replica home was built in 2015 using Rudolph’s original plans for public tours on the grounds of The John & Mable Ringling Museum of Art in Sarasota, Florida. “The SAF, whose mission is to educate about, advocate for and celebrate Sarasota’s mid-century modern heritage," said SAF chairman Dr. Christopher Wilson, in a press release, "undertook this project as an educational initiative. Recognizing that a majority of Sarasota School structures are private residences not normally accessible to the public, the SAF wanted to expose the forward-thinking principles of the ‘Sarasota School’ to a wider audience by constructing and exhibiting this replica.” The replica left the museum grounds in 2017 and was reinstalled in Palm Springs, California in 2018 as a feature of Modernism Week, the biannual festival that takes place in the city to celebrate the city's collection of midcentury modern architecture. Originally built in 1952 in the beach town of Sanibel, Florida, the 24-by-24-foot home is notable for the movable flaps along its exterior that can be manually raised or lowered for privacy and shading. Shortly after it was built, the home was revered as an exemplary model of the Sarasota School of Architecture movement, a regional style that advocated for open-plan structures and passive heating and cooling. Additionally, the building is a rare example of a home from the era designed to be collapsible for ease of transportation. The buyer of the replica home will also receive several furnishings designed by Rudolph, including a living room table, bookshelf/divider, and daybed. The bidding will begin at $10,000, the reported budget for the home when it was first built. However, don't get too attached to the location; as the auction notes, the home's new owner must disassemble and move the building by March 24, 2020.
It’s getting rather busy in California’s High Desert these days. With an ever-expanding set of art-related events, programs, and biennials taking place across the region, High Desert Test Sites (HDTS), a long-running artist showcase in the area, has announced its 2020 return. The event, titled HDTS2020 and conceived of as a “free-roving” art exposition, aims to revisit a 1972 slideshow lecture given by American land artist Robert Smithson titled Hotel Palenque via a series of new public artworks and events. The lecture, given by Smithson to his students at the University of Utah after a trip through Mexico in 1969, centers on an “eccentrically built hotel…simultaneously undergoing decay and renovation” that Smithson encountered while on his travels. Smithson considered the hotel a “de-architecturalized” space that existed both as a ruin and a site of reconstruction in keeping with the artist’s interests in fragmented landscapes and simultaneous states of being. The work, according to the Guggenheim website, was developed in tandem with a photographic series titled Yucatan Mirror Displacements (1–9) that Smithson created by photographing dispersed sites that had been augmented with the installation of 12-inch, square-shaped mirrors. For the 2020 run, HDTS has brought on guest curator Iwona Blazwick from the Whitechapel Gallery in London. The series will feature the work of eight artists, including Alice Channer, Gerald Clarke, Jr., Dineo Seshee Bopape, Erkan Özgen, Dana Sherwood, Paloma Varga Weisz, and Rachel Whiteread. Smithson will also be included in the showcase, which will focus on creating “a poetic narrative on the geometry of ruin, the entropic play of nature, and the ghosts of cultures both ancient and modern.” The artists are slated to create or place their works across the High Desert region, both in urbanized areas and within the desert landscapes. HDTS, a non-profit organization founded by artist Andrea Zittel, Los Angeles gallerist Shaun Caley Regen, and others in 2003, aims to “support immersive experiences and exchanges between artists, critical thinkers, and general audiences—challenging all to expand their definition of art to take on new areas of relevancy,” according to Zittel’s website. HDTS2020 will include a public discussion titled Desert as Situation on April 7 hosted by the Palm Springs Art Museum (PSAM) and moderated by Brooke Hodge, director of architecture and design at PSAM. The exhibition series itself runs from April 18 through May 9, 2020.
The organizers behind Desert X, an art and architecture–focused biennial that takes place in the Coachella Valley east of Los Angeles, have unveiled this year's participating artists. For its 2019 run, the festival will highlight a who’s-who of rising international creatives, including Venezuelan-born artist Iván Argote, Mexican artist Pia Camil, Irish artist John Gerrard, American photographer Cara Romero, American artist Jenny Holzer, Egyptian-born artist Iman Issa, and the Danish art collective Superflex, among others. In addition to highlighting evocative works of landscape-based installations and sculpture, the organizers have expanded the scope of the exhibition to include film and performance-based projects, according to a press release. This expanded scope will apply to the geographic range of the exhibitions, as well. This year, the organizers have embraced a wide terrain for the works that extends south from Palm Springs to the Salton Sea and the U.S.-Mexico Border. The Desert X 2019 program is led by Desert X artistic director Neville Wakefield and curators Amanda Hunt and Matthew Schum. A goal for the 2019 program is to “embrace a range of ecological, environmental, and social issues that have been driving conversations about our role in the anthropocene,” according to Wakefield. To facilitate this conversation, the organizers plan to hold a symposium titled Desert, Why? at the Palm Springs Art Museum (PSAM). The event takes place between March 1 and 3 and is billed as a “celebration of art and the environment.” The three-day event will highlight Unsettled, a sweeping exhibition of contemporary art from across the Americas that is currently on view at PSAM. Associated performances, panel discussions, and other events will also happen during the symposium across various locations. A podcast hosted by Frances Anderton is set to “explore the environmental, ecological, and social themes in the 2019 Desert X exhibition,” as well. Anderton is the host of DnA: Design and Architecture, a weekly radio show on L.A.’s KCRW radio station. The podcast will be developed in collaboration with Avishay Artsy, a producer for DnA. Desert X kicks off February 9 and runs through April 21, 2019.
After a long and winding journey, the Aluminaire House has finally found a permanent home in Palm Springs, California. The 1,200-square-foot, all-metal house arrived in the high desert early last year on the back of a freight truck, just in time for the annual Modernism Week celebration. The home was greeted by a hero’s welcome after having just completed the final leg of a perilous journey from New York, where it had been installed, inhabited, and exhibited variously over the decades. The disassembled structure has sat in storage in the months since, as preparations continue for its final installation as a house museum and interpretive center in conjunction with the development of a new two-acre downtown plaza designed by Los Angeles–based Rios Clementi Hale Studios (RCH Studios). The iconic all-steel structure was designed in 1931 by Albert Frey and A. Lawrence Kocher as a prototype for a new kind of efficient and modern domestic life. The experimental home was initially exhibited in 1931 at the Grand Central Palace in New York City by the Allied Arts and Industries and the Architectural League of New York and was shown to the public again the following year by the Museum of Modern Art. The Aluminaire House was then purchased and moved by architect Wallace Harrison to his estate in Long Island, where it served as a guest house until 1986, when it was moved to the Central Islip campus of the New York Institute of Technology (NYIT) by architects Frances Campani and Michael Schwarting in order to prevent its demolition. Although the NYIT Central Islip campus closed down in 2005, the Aluminaire House remained installed there until 2012, when it was disassembled by Campani and Schwarting and stored for posterity. The home was nearly installed in Sunnyside, Queens as part of a new townhouse development the following year, but the plan was scuttled after neighborhood opposition arose against the project. The Aluminaire Foundation sprung up in 2013 and began preparations for moving the home out west to Palm Springs, one of the region’s many cradles of mid century modern architecture and design. When construction completed in 2020 on the new Palm Springs Downtown Park, the home willoccupy a prominent perch on Museum Drive, surrounded by a grove of trees, an outdoor gallery, and the rest of the park—just across the street from the Palm Springs Art Museum. Nate Cormier, principal at RCH Studio, said, “The Aluminaire House was a key element of the park from the start of the most recent round of conceptual design work. As fans of modern architecture, we were excited about its incorporation, but we were also challenged to find a way to give it its own space.” According to the architect, the city’s new town square will stitch together a series of disparate elements—including the Aluminaire House, a central pond and lawn, and a 28-foot-tall statue dedicated to Marilyn Monroe—in a new urban setting studded with plant species taken from local canyons and hiking trails. With California fan palms, Honey Mesquite trees, white sage, chuparosa, and Indian Tea shrubs, the park will aim to provide urban amenities using a locally-derived plant palate.Cormier added, “The park is an urban oasis, a rustic retreat [meant to] offer comforts and delights that are rooted in the intrinsic qualities of the regional landscape.” The Aluminaire House will sit on its own site adjacent to the main square to establish “a more residential relationship with the adjacent streets,” as Cormier explains. There, the restored home will be maintained by the Aluminaire Foundation as a public resource. Cormier and RCH Studios founding partner Mark Rios will be presenting the final schematic designs for the park at a special community update for the park Friday, February 23 at Palm Springs Art Museum in conjunction with Modernism Week. See the event website for more information
Palm Springs is the latest city to embrace environmentally conscious design, as 300 acres of what was originally slated for a golf course will instead become an ecologically-oriented planned community. Miralon, a 1,150-unit development in Coachella Valley with 75 acres of olive groves, will join agricultural neighborhoods across the country when it opens this fall. Miralon, despite its ambitious name, wasn’t originally pitched as a holistic district. Before the 2008 recession, developer SunCal had begun work on an “Avalon” neighborhood on the same plot, even going so far as to build out a 75-acre, 18-hole golf course. After the market crash, the land was left untended for a decade, and the harsh desert winds destroyed the course. Enter national developer Freehold Communities, which unveiled plans for Miralon on the same plot early last year. Banking on the idea that prospective buyers were more interested in living near open space rather than a golf course specifically, Freehold has planted 70 acres of olive trees on what used to be the course, as well as smaller groves in the teeing areas. Besides being drought and pest resistant (olives need to be cured before they’re edible), the olive trees are expected to produce up to 15,000 gallons of oil every year, to be harvested and pressed on site by the Temecula Olive Oil Company. Other than the groves, Miralon will convert 6.5 miles of roads originally designated for golf carts into hiking and jogging trails, and all of the 1,150 buildings will come equipped with solar panels. The Modernist-inspired residences will be a mix of single-family homes, condos, and townhouses, and will all adhere to design guidelines drawn up by Robert Hidey Architects. Under Robert Hidey’s framework, all buildings will need to adhere to a shared material palette, height restrictions, plant selections and a plan for arranging homes to keep the neighborhood from looking monotonous. Robert Hidey will also be designing the community’s central clubhouse, and C2 Collaborative Landscape Architecture will handle the landscaping and olive grove installation. Miralon seems to be hopping on a $134 billion worldwide trend of planned wellness communities, as well as the trend towards agricultural communities that blend residences with farm-to-table dining.
A California city is offering $50,000 to buyers willing to restore a stunning midcentury modern home by an eminent local architect. City officials in Palm Desert, California are auctioning off a 1,900-square-foot, city-owned house designed by Walter S. White, an architect who built more than 50 experimental homes in the Coachella Valley area from the mid-1950s to the mid-1960s. The open floor plan structure is distinguished by a parabolic roof that sails over the concrete block and glass walls and White's trademark cantilevered corner windows. That roof was designed to be in conversation with the backdrop of mountains that rise behind the house, and was a design patented by White. Among many notable features, the home sports a bathroom with a glass shower that opens into a private garden. Despite an impressive pedigree and design, the home, officially known as the Miles C. Bates House, is in profound disrepair, and additions from the 1970s (as seen in the photo at top) compromised the character of the original home. Although the city is obligated to transfer the deed to the highest bidder at auction, preservation-minded officials are hoping the $50,000 grant to restore the home will entice a likeminded buyer. (According to The Mercury News, the 50K offer is a no-go if the buyer substantially alters or demolishes the home.) Unlike other midcentury stunners in Palm Desert and neighboring Palm Springs, this one is relatively affordable. A city appraisal shows the property's market value is between $320,000 to $340,000. The house was completed in 1955 for artist Miles C. Bates. Starting today, the city is offering interested buyers private tours of the home, but during next month's Modernism Week, the annual celebration of modern architecture in and around Palm Springs, the property will be open to all for tours. For those looking to bid on the home, the fateful auction is scheduled for February 24, a day before Modernism Week wraps up.
Palm Springs's Modernism Week, the desert city’s celebration of its modernist architecture, has just concluded a ten-day run. Founded in 2006, it typically features tours to the city’s iconic post-World War II modern homes and occasional commercial or institutional buildings, making it the most important event of its kind in the United States. In addition, it typically highlights a single important building every year, such as last year when it featured its Architecture Museum (a Marmol Radziner–designed renovation of the 1961 Savings and Loan building by E. Stewart Williams ), William Kriesel’s all-steel house tract development, and Sunnylands (the A. Quincy Jones–designed single bedroom mansion for the Annenberg family surrounded by a private 9-hole golf course). This year it highlighted the life and work of the architect John Lautner who designed the Elrod House in Palm Springs and a small motel now called The Lautner just down the road in Desert Hot Springs. It was only four years ago that architecture historian Jean-Louis Chen told a large Modernism Week crowd that Lautner hated the sober lines of the city’s midcentury modern architecture. But this year Lautner was memorialized, in true Southern California fashion, with his own ‘Star’ embedded in the sidewalk of Palm Canyon Drive, the city’s main thoroughfare. In addition, this year Modernism Week programmed a series of events around the arrival of Albert Frey’s 1931 Aluminaire House, which was transported from its home on Long Island to the dry desert air of the Coachella Valley. The flat-packed house sat all week on Palm Canyon Drive (next to Lautner’s star) in a large truck but will be resurrected on a city-owned site in the next twelve months. The organizers of Modernism Week also program lectures and presentations and this year I served on a panel Preservation Power Houses, Who, What, Why of Preservation and the Forces that Make it Happen. The panel featured many of California’s most important advocates and administrators responsible for the preservation of the state landmarks. The panel discussed the current state of preservation in California, current legislation affecting listing, and concluded with a discussion on how we might move preservation beyond highlighting only distinguished landmarks to saving structures and complexes that create the texture of neighborhoods. This might include, for example, California’s unique post-World War II typology of public schools. These stick-and-plaster built complexes, typically with breezeway arms of classrooms, spread from a central core out to large playgrounds. They arose out of the state's unique Mediterranean climate and the demand created by a population explosion in the 1950s. These schools represent an era when public education was promoted through modern architecture and they still define the progressive modernism of the state. It was an optimistic ending to the topic of preservation and the event had a large and enthusiastic audience interested in preserving modern architecture. Modernism Week always seems to attract to the desert a passionate and devoted audience that appreciates architecture and design and this year was no different. Finally, I visited Desert Palisades, a new development in an extraordinary 112-acre lunar-like landscape of boulders, located at the bottom of Chino Canyon. It will eventually accommodate 113 homes but opened with its first two houses by architects Lance O’Donnell and Case Studies architect Al Beadle; we will report on this development in a later article. The Palisades development is also the site of the first sculpture by artist Doug Aitken for the newly launched Desert X program of sculptures that embrace and celebrate the landscape and human issues of the desert. The Atkins piece is a domestic structure (not habitable) that will eventually be covered entirely with a glass-like surface meant to reflect the surrounding landscape back to the viewer. Last week it was only a frame structure that looked as if it were being blown away by strong desert winds. Desert X organizers claim it will consider the desert as not just a natural landscape but also a social construct of preconceived notions and real estate development. The sculptures will be installed over the next few months and will feature the structure when they are completed.
The 1931 Aluminaire House, as The Architect's Newspaper (AN) has reported, was left adrift in New York (its birth home) and then sent packing last week in a big rig to Palm Springs, California. The Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey-designed house arrived safe and sound and was welcomed to Palm Springs in an official ceremony with dignitaries at the Albert Frey-designed Tramway Gas Station. While it’s sad to see the house leave New York, it does make sense for the all-metal structure to ‘retire’ to the sunny dry desert. Architects Michael Schwarting and Frances Campani worked for years to save the Aluminaire from destruction and oblivion, but when it became obvious that New York no longer wanted the structure and Palm Springs did, they decided to ship it to Frey’s long-time home on the desert. The container holding the house will be parked on south Palm Canyon Drive throughout Modernism Week (which runs February 16 to 26). After Modernism Week concludes, the container will be stored in the Palm Springs City Yard. It is meant to be included in the plans for the new Downtown Park. Once the park is completed (date to be decided) and the site for Aluminaire prepared, the home will be reassembled and opened for the public to tour.
Modernism Week in Palm Springs will feature new art installations and a Palm Canyon Drive "star" for John Lautner
Palm Springs Modernism Week began in 2006 as a small, local celebration of the desert city’s abundant modern architecture. It has grown in ambition and popularity every year and today many of its most popular tours sell out days after they are announced. It has become the model for other modernism programs around the country but still stands out for its expansive program of house and city tours, focused exhibitions in local museums, and design trade show. In addition, this year will witness the launch of Desert X, a series of art installations scattered around the Coachella Valley just outside Palm Springs. Finally, this is a city that honors architects with Hollywood Boulevard-like brass stars that feature notable names set into the sidewalks of the main street, Palm Canyon Drive. They have ‘stars’ for Albert Frey, Donald Wexler, E. Stewart Williams (who designed the city’s architecture museum), William Krisel, and photographer Julius Shulman. This year they will place a star for John Lautner who designed the spectacular Elrod House in the city and a hotel now called The Lautner in Desert Hot Springs. We will be reporting all week from the desert where it supposed to be raining and cold (60 degrees). Palm Springs Modernism weeks runs from February 16 to 26; learn more here.