The historic Miles C. Bates house in Palm Desert, California was purchased at auction over the weekend by Los Angeles-based Stayner Architects. The city-owned home had been put on the market earlier this year with the hopes that a buyer interested in preserving and restoring the iconic midcentury structure designed by experimental architect Walter S. White would emerge. To sweeten the deal, Palm Desert officials offered up to $50,000 toward the cost of restoring the abandoned home if the right buyer was found. At a public auction held in conjunction with Palm Springs Modernism Week Saturday afternoon, city officials finally found that buyer, as the sun-scorched town played host to a dramatic back-and-forth over the home. Ultimately, the father-and-son team at Stayner prevailed over four other bidders for the iconic structure. Bidding on the home started at $50,000 and quickly rose from there in $50,000 intervals until reaching the final sale price of $360,000. The Desert Sun reports that because the property is city-owned, sale on the home must be completed by June 30. After a city agency approves the deal, the Palm Desert oversight board and the California Department of Finance will issue final approvals for the transaction. Once that happens, the Department of Finance has five days to notify the city that the sale has been approved, after which the property can officially change hands. A timeline for the renovation has not been released. Christian Stayner, principal at Stayner Architects, said via email, “We are planning to work with the City of Palm Desert to make the restored residence—plus a new accessory structure that we will design and build—available to the public for overnight visits as well as for special events and educational purposes.” Merilee Colton with the Palm Desert Historical Society said, “We are gratified that the process yielded a qualified buyer interested in preserving the Bates house. Our goal for the house has always been preservation, and many of us hope that the house will become a public space, at least intermittently, so the public can visit this remarkable structure.” White—who was an admirer of Frank Lloyd Wright and a disciple of Richard Neutra and Albert Frey, among others—designed the house in 1955 as a winter residence for local playboy Miles C. Bates, an artist. The distinctive midcentury home is the product of Bates’s inventive ethos and features a dynamic wave-shaped roof—the home is locally known as the “blue wave house”—that is made from a patented nail-laminated wooden dowel and lumber assembly. The home, with its dramatic roof and a set of garden walls that stretch out into the site, was designed to embrace the craggily, cactus-studded landscape of the area and offers clerestory views toward the Santa Rosa and San Jacinto Mountains National Monument. Today, the structure sits behind a retirement home on a dusty street, its true glory obscured by a series of later additions and a thick coat of beige paint. The House was listed in the National Register of Historic Places in early 2018. It now falls to Stayner and his team to rehabilitate the home back to its original configuration and luster as a one-bedroom bachelor pad. Describing what drew him to the Bates house, Stayner said, “The house is a really interesting experiment in terms of its construction and we see it as an important moment in the evolution of the roof as a trope of desert architecture.”
Posts tagged with "Palm Springs Modernism Week":
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.
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.
The Aluminaire House, designed by A. Lawrence Kocher and Albert Frey, will depart from storage in Long Island, NY on February 9th and travel across the country to Palm Springs, CA for Modernism Week, the annual celebration of midcentury architecture and design in Palm Springs. Originally built as a prototype for the 1931 Allied Arts and Industries and Architectural League of New York Exhibition, the house was an early modernist exemplar for the use of off-the-shelf building materials in residential architecture. After the exhibition closed, the structure was relocated from Midtown Manhattan to the estate of architect Wallace Harrison where it remained until the late 1980s. Passing through the stewardship of several owners who altered and expanded the house, it eventually fell into disrepair and was threatened with demolition. As a result of preservation efforts by historians and architects, the structure was moved in 1987 for the fourth, and purportedly final, time to the Central Islip Campus of the New York Institute of Technology where it was fully restored. However, its life on Long Island was relatively short lived. In 2012 the campus closed and the house was again disassembled and move into storage, out of the public’s view. Following negotiations with the City of Palm Springs, the Aluminaire House Foundation, led by Michael Schwarting, Kenneth Frampton, and Frances Campani, secured a permanent site for the house in a new downtown park which is slated for completion later this year. As such, the reassembled house will not be on display during Modernism Week, however it will be the subject of a lecture on February 25 and fundraising event later that day at the Siva House designed by Hugh Kaptur. When the house is finally reconstructed, a permanent board of directors will take over its care and offer regular hours for public viewing. For more on Modernism Week, see its website here.
New York City is losing the 1931 Aluminaire House and its relocating to Palm Spring, California. The aluminum alloy and steel structure was created by the architect Albert Frey and A. Lawrence Kocher, managing editor of Architecture Record, and was commissioned by the Architecture League for the Allied Arts and Industry exhibition. In many ways the metal structure is pure New York, a temporary installation first built in the Grand Central Palace on Lexington Avenue between 46th and 47th streets (replaced in 1967 by a 47-floor skyscraper called 245 Park Avenue). The house has been unloved by the city since it was taken down. It stood for some years at the Islip campus of the New York Institute of Technology and a proposal to site in Sunnyside Gardens, Queens was sadly rejected by local residents and since that time has been stored in boxes. Aluminaire Foundation officials think it will need about $600,000 to bring it to Palm Springs and have it erected on a local site. A first effort at fundraising netted $150,00 and now, this weekend, as part of the city's Modernism Week, a second event will be staged at the Frey- (and Robson C. Chambers) designed Tramway Gas Station to raise funds for the foundation. Regardless of New York's apparent lack of desire to keep the structure, it makes some sense to bring it to the dry desert; the city loves modern architecture and Frey lived in the desert city for most of his life. New York, say goodbye to the Aluminaire!
Architects may not get much respect in most American cities, but in Palm Spring, California they're stars! Today Richard Neutra who designed the city's famous Miller House in 1937 and, ten years later, the Kaufmann House will have a star dedicated in his honor on the sidewalk of Palm Canyon Drive just in front of the Palm Springs Architecture Museum. The Austrian emigre will join other architects on the sidewalk including: Albert Frey, Donald Wexler, E. Stewart Williams (who designed the city's architecture museum), William Krisel, and just next to the star of his friend the photographer Julius Shulman. All of these figures were important contributors to the significant architecture culture of this desert city and here they are not only honored but revered.
Palm Springs Modernism Week is in its tenth year of celebrating the city's architectural masterpieces and tracts of mid-century modern houses. The Architects Newspaper is, for the sixth year, a media sponsor of Modernism Week, and we are here in the Mojave desert reporting on its numerous events. One of the highlights is the Sunday discussion and round table, "Why Isn’t the 1947 Neutra Kaufmann House on the National Register?" This working panel hosted by the California State Historic Resources Commission’s (SHRC) Modernism Committee will look at the Kaufmann house and other case studies in order to challenge "the integrity and standards used to evaluate National Register nominations" and ask whether they need to change when evaluating "the material realities of mid-century modern structures; materials that were often mass-produced, vulnerable, and easily replaced." The panel will include: architectural historian and California State Historic Resources Commission Beth Edwards Harris; well-known historian Alan Hess; Michigan preservationists Brian Conway, Katie Horak, Christine Lazzaretto. I am also on the panel and will discuss the research and remaking of the Lever Houses curtain wall. There are still a few tickets available for the event. Why Isn’t the 1947 Neutra Kaufmann House on the National Register? Hilton Palm Springs, Horizon Ballroom 400 E. Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262 11:30 AM - 1:00 PM, $12
The Architect's Newspaper will be headed to California next week for Palm Springs Modernism Week. It's the sixth year we have served as a media sponsor and we always look forward to the week on the desert as not simply time out from the New York winter but a chance to visit the classic modern houses in the Mojave oasis. In addition, we always make a point to awl through the Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale where they sell the most incredible modern furniture and objects. There are always a few things affordable even for an architecture editor, but if not it's so much fun to look and fantasize about how these design objects would look in a New York loft. This is the 15th year of the show and sale, and this must make it the longest running modern event like it in the country. This year it will feature 85 of the most prestigious dealers from across the United States and Europe. The show and sale takes place at Palm Springs Convention Center and runs from February 13th to the 16th, 2015.
Another weekend, another Modernism Week. One of our favorites: a look inside the Palm Springs Art Museum's future Architecture and Design Center, located inside E. Stewart Williams' sleek Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan (1960). The International Style building is being renovated by Marmol Radziner, who also worked on Richard Neutra's nearby Kaufmann House. The museum has already raised more than $4 million to buy and renovate the building, and is now just $1 million shy of what's needed to get work underway. The organizers hope to break ground in the next few months and open the center by fall 2014. But for now, its interior is still lots of quirky fun, including a chance to walk inside the old bank vaults, check out the old drive through teller, and explore the old kitchens and mechanical systems.
Last weekend at Palm Springs Modernism Week we stumbled upon a treasure for architecture fans. The Palm Springs Art Museum is renovating E. Stewart Williams' 1960 Santa Fe Federal Savings and Loan building, turning it into the future home of the Edward Harris Center for Architecture and Design. Williams' International Style bank, featuring floating slabs, floor to ceiling glazing, and ultra thin columns, will contain exhibit space, public program areas, offices, an archival study center and a museum store (located in the former bank vault). On its lower level it will contain a 2,700 square foot area for the museum's collection. The center is scheduled to open in Fall 2013, says the museum. We can't wait! Historic pictures and renderings of the future space after the jump.