Posts tagged with "Palm Springs":

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Norman Foster breaks ground on his expansion for Florida's Norton Museum of Art

Commemorating the 75th anniversary of the Norton Museum of Art in Palm Beach, British architect Norman Foster was on site to see his expansion break ground. The new development, called "The New Norton," will see further galleries added along with visitor facilities all within the "original axial layout of the Museum." In what will be his third project in Florida, Foster has laid the foundations at West Palm Beach for further growth, with the aim of the museum to become a leading cultural institution in the Sunshine State. "The new extension of the museum represents an exciting opportunity to place the reinvigorated Norton at the heart of Florida’s cultural life and to establish its international presence, allowing more people to enjoy the museum’s very special collection," said Foster in a press release. A simple, all-white stone facade and minimalist form stays true to the aesthetic of the 1941 original by New York's Marion Sims Wyeth, where a subtle Art Deco style creates a central courtyard. Later developments meant this original axial configuration, on which the building was based, was lost. Foster's master plan dutifully restores Wyeth's symmetry, adding a sense of clarity to the site. In the process, Foster has explored varying topological arrangements to provide a flexible space able that will now be able to attract a much wider local and international audience. Room for further expansion can be seen via the provision of infrastructure that will facilitate of two more exhibition wings being built on the eastern end of the building. "Creating new event and visitor spaces that will transform the museum into the social heart of the community; as well as increasing the gallery and exhibition spaces, to engage with a wider audience," Foster added. Three double height pavilions will now act as the museum's entrance, countering the low-rise galleries and while merging with the three-storey Nessel Wing. Within these pavilions will be a "state-of-the-art auditorium," Grand Hall, which "will be the new social heart for the local community." Also included is a shop, event space, education center, and restaurant that can operate independently from the museum. These spaces will all be coalesced underneath a canopy. Within the vicinity will be an open public space that will be used as a live performance space and venue for "Art After Dark," an evening show hosted by the museum. Spencer de Grey, co-head of design at Foster + Partners, said, “this groundbreaking ceremony marks the moment where the process that began five years ago with the masterplan finally comes to realisation. Our approach at the Norton has been to make art more accessible by dissolving boundaries – whether that is between the building and landscape or art and the viewer.”
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Desert X to bring the art fair circuit to Coachella Valley

File under “X.” A new happening is coming to California’s high desert. Slated to open in February 2017, Desert X is “three-month site-specific international contemporary art exhibition,” aka, an arid art event timed to align with Palm Spring’s Modernism Week as well as the Coachella Valley Music and Arts Festival. Writer and curator Neville Wakefield, known for curating site-specific works, will serve as inaugural artistic director. It’s promised that his knack for engaging alternative spaces will be on view as artists install in non-traditional spaces—one might expect landscape interventions a la High Desert Test Sites in Joshua Tree—as well as more conventional settings such as the Palm Springs Art Museum, a late modern design by architect E. Stewart Williams and A. Quincy Jones’ midcentury Sunnylands Center & Gardens, renovated by Frederick Fisher and Partners in 2012. “The desert has long exercised its fascination over the minds of artists, architects, musicians, writers and other explorers of landscape and soul,” noted Wakefield. He sets a high bar for the commissioned art works, asking that they simultaneously reflect the ideals and politics of the contemporary art world and respond to the desert context. The press release suggests that the pieces will “amplify and cast a gimlet eye on the geographies, ethnic/social and historical/geologic layers that exist in the southern California desert, while also looking to major movements in contemporary art world-wide.” The exact hows and whos of Desert X remain a vast and unknowable mystery, to borrow the evocative language of the press materials. “The landscape of harsh desert, high mountains, lush golf courses and a vanishing sea, holds a rich history and maintains mythical proportions in the narrative of the American West—one that includes ancient Indian tribes, prospectors, pioneers, and cowboys,” explained Susan Davis, Desert X founder and board president. “We see Desert X as unique in shining a spotlight on the rich preexisting architectural, natural and cultural legacies of the area, while offering the public a way to explore, activate and interrogate current, timely and historic issues through contemporary, creative practices.” However, Desert X’s board is well connected to the regional, national, and international arts organizations, including major arts institutions, such as Whitney Museum of American Art, the Park Avenue Armory Conservancy, the New Museum, the Hammer Museum, the Serpentine Galleries, and Creative Time. The truth is out there: Wakefield will share his vision and plans for the inaugural exhibition on January 29, 2016 as part of the Art Los Angeles Contemporary 2016.
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Desert Modernism in Palm Springs cleared for National Register of Historic Places

Given that Palm Springs is a destination for sun-soaked desert modernism, it’s surprising to learn that a number of structures by the area’s best-known architects are not protected. That changed earlier this month when the California State Historical Resources Commission voted to nominate ten buildings by Albert Frey, including Palm Springs City Hall and the iconic Frey House II, as well as the Town & Country Center in Palm Springs designed by Paul R. Williams and A. Quincy Jones for the National Register of Historic Places. The vote was a milestone in preservation efforts in Palm Springs, a city that’s recently seen parts of its architectural history bulldozed for new developments. Recently midcentury modern Spa Resort Casino complex, noted for its concrete-vaulted entry colonnade and designed by William Cody, Donald Wexler, Richard Harrison, and Phillip Koenig, was demolished in the face of preservationist opposition. The Desert Sun reported that the National Register placements are moving forward despite opposition by two owners: The Mount San Jacinto Winter Park Authority, which oversees Frey’s Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, and Town & Country Center owners Wessman Development. The Tramway owners cite potential development restrictions down the line as their challenge to the nomination. John Wessman’s objections stem from a larger architectural and urban issue: the redevelopment of central Palm Springs and the fact that the Palm Springs City Council city rejected a Historic Site Preservation Board recommendation to list the Town & Country Center as a Class I Historic Site. As The Desert Sun noted:
Wessman argues that the building is a poor example of mid-century architecture and is problematic to lease due to its awkward layout, low ceilings and other deficiencies. The building also stands in the way of a proposed new street for the area that would form an east-west axis connecting the Palm Springs Art Museum with other areas like the Palm Springs Convention Center.
Writing for AN in 2011, Tom Stoelker reported that the museum's relationship to the Town & Country Center is "tricky."

There is the opportunity to connect the museum to tourists and residents, expand within the new complex, and gain visibility—literally—from blocks away. On the other hand, they’ll likely incur the wrath of Palm Spring’s vigilant preservationist community. “We are very interested in working with the city and Wessman, but we are by no means endorsing the destruction of Town and Country,” said museum spokesperson Bob Bogard. “The museum is very interested in an east-west corridor.”

The complete list of nominated Frey buildings are: Kocher-Samson Building (1934), Frey and A. Lawrence Kocher Sieroty House (1946) Loewy House (1946-47) Carey-Pirozzi House (1946) Palm Springs City Hall (1952) Fire Station #1 (1957), Frey and Robson Chambers Frey House II (1964) Tramway Valley Station (1963) Tramway Gas Station and Visitors Center (1965) North Shore Yacht Club (1959)
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New York City is losing the Aluminaire House

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!
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Richard Neutra gets the star treatment in Palm Springs

  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. star-chitects-01 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. star-chitects-02
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Sunday> Panel asks, "Why Isn’t the 1947 Neutra Kaufmann House on the National Register?"

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
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Don't miss the Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale beginning February 13

  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.
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Preservationists taken by surprise as demolition begins on Wexler's Palm Springs Spa Hotel

As preservationists steam, demolition teams working in the desert heat have begun to tear down Donald Wexler's famed Spa Hotel in downtown Palm Springs. The hotel was closed in early June by its owners, the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.  To add insult to injury, the demolition has begun with the hotel's most famous element: it's elegant, concrete-vaulted colonnade. "We are outraged and upset. We've been trying to provide information to the tribe on how this hotel could be successfully restored and renovated. They mention communication about everything. But it wasn't until I drove by that we saw that the demolition had started," Palm Springs Modern Committee (PS MODCOM) Executive Director Nickie McLaughlin told AN.   The Spa Bathhouse and Hotel, acknowledged as one of the city's most significant buildings, was designed in 1955 by a collaboration of elite Palm Springs architects including not just Wexler, but William Cody, Richard Harrison, and Phillip Koenig. McLaughlin confirmed that the colonnade's destruction had been completed on September 3. McLaughlin said PS MODCOM had been talking with Agua Caliente since July 14, and were given the impression that the tribe had no plans on the table for immediate demolition. The assumed lack of plans also allowed the tribe to circumvent CEQA rules, she said. According to the Desert Sun, because the demolition takes place on tribal land it is a "tribal action," and not subject to any state or federal environmental protections. "I think they're not true to their word and I think this is a very poor display of how they operate," said McLaughlin, who added that PS MODCOM and the tribe had discussed the possibility of restoring the existing building (with the tribe receiving various tax credits) and constructing new facilities to the north. Another organization, the Palm Springs Preservation Foundation, encouraged members and interested parties to send over 1,000 letters to the tribe urging them to reconsider the demolition. "It’s really nauseating," said Wexler's son Brian Wexler. "It’s so disappointing that one of the most iconic structures of Palm Springs has been lost." He said his brother Gary was driving by when demolition started and sounded the alarm. It is unclear what Agua Caliente plans to build on the site. At this point calls to the tribe had not been returned. "We are in the planning stages of creating a vision for this key location in downtown Palm Springs," Agua Caliente Tribal Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe said, in a statement. "Our next steps include demolition of existing structures as well as taking the necessary steps to protect and preserve the hot mineral spring."
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Joseph Eichler's Mid-Century Homes Reborn in Palm Springs

A few years ago, Realtor Monique Lombardelli fell in love with the work of Joseph Eichler, the developer whose architect-designed tract homes proliferated throughout Northern and Southern California in the decades following World War II. “[The Eichler homes] provide such a great environment, more of a relaxing, open feel,” she said. Lombardelli’s passion led her to produce a documentary on Eichler’s legacy, which in turn piqued her clients’ interest. “I started getting a lot of clients who wanted one, and there wasn’t anything to show them,” said Lombardelli. “Then I sold one that was a remodel, and everyone said, ‘I want an Eichler.’” Lombardelli wondered: was it possible to build new, Eichler-inspired homes based on the developer’s original plans? She describes the process of uncovering the plans as a “treasure hunt” during which she felt like Sherlock Holmes—following evidence from one archive to the next, trying to convince the archivists that her project was worthwhile. “It’s funny because all the people at these different archives, they said, ‘These plans, most of them have been thrown out, nobody cares. Why do you want them?’” recalled Lombardelli. She eventually found luck at the archives at UC Berkeley and Stantec. “Stantec has everything, it was a mecca, a nirvana for Eichler,” said Lombardelli. “I walked in there and it was like being in heaven.” Lombardelli purchased rights to everything the archives hold, which so far totals 65 plans. (The archives are so dense, said Lombardelli, that they are likely to uncover more plans as time goes on.) To turn her dream of building “new” Eichlers into a reality, Lombardelli needed a developer. That’s where Troy Kudlac of Palm Springs’ KUD Properties comes in. “I gave up a couple of times,” said Lombardelli, citing inflated estimates. “Modernism should not be that expensive—that’s what Joe [Eichler] said originally, that modernism should be experienced by everybody.” Kudlac agrees. He plans to build one or two Eichler-inspired homes in Palm Springs on spec. If all goes well, he’ll develop a small tract of about ten homes. “With something this kind of cutting edge and revolutionary, I’ve got to prove the concept,” said Kudlac. KUD Properties will submit plans to the city of Palm Springs by the end of March. They hope to break ground by mid-summer. In the meantime, Lombardelli is fielding inquiries from developers in Tampa, North Carolina, Colorado, New Mexico, Brazil, London, and elsewhere. She’s resisted requests to alter the plans, except where modern building codes require it. “I think we really need to respect what we’ve been brought up with, what our history is,” she said. “There’s a soul in each of these houses that really resonates with me. To duplicate that is very difficult, but I think if you’re duplicating that to make them live on, we have to keep them the same."
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Docomomo Tours In Palm Springs (and across the country)

If you've never seen Richard Neutra's Kaufmann House or Albert Frey's Palm Springs City Hall, now is your chance. This weekend Docomomo is hosing Palm Springs architecture tours, which will show off some of the city's most famous architecture. The tours, which also include visits to the homes of Frank Sinatra, Elvis Presley, and Cary Grant, are part of  Docomomo's US Tour Day, which offers similar events across the country, in 22 states. These includes tours of the Farnsworth House in Illinois, Eero Saarinen's TWA Terminal in New York, and buildings by Felix Candela in Houston.
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Modernism Week Surprise: Palm Springs Preparing Architecture Center

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.
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Video> Explore California's "Accidental" Sea

We just came across The Accidental Sea, a fascinating documentary about California's bewildering Salton Sea, an artificial lake created by flooding the Colorado River southeast of Palm Springs. It quickly turned into a resort and then (after subsequent environmental degradation) into a ghost town. The film by Ransom Riggs explores the history of the site and looks at the eeriness there now, from rusted out cars to abandoned spas and homes. Makes you wonder about the tenuousness of our civilization and makes you want to explore California's other modern ghost towns like California City, an 80,000 acre development once intended to be the third largest city in the state (it's population is now just over 8,000 people).