For newcomers to Palm Springs, you get a feeling that you’ve stepped into a place that’s unlike any other. Even if you’re not an architecture buff, and don’t know and Eichler from Eames, you know there’s something unique about the buildings and architecture in Palm Springs.
That ‘something’ is desert modernism, and it’s eye catching to be sure. Featuring clean lines, flat or butterfly roofs, and plenty of windows, modernism is so integral to the desert identity it has its own celebrated event here every year called Modernism Week.
3 top stops for modernism in Palm Springs
Within a few days, you’ll likely notice a few buildings that catch your eye as you drive around Palm Springs. But if you want a few clues to get you started these places are some of the most compelling and most photographed.
Tramway Gas Station
Currently home to the Palm Springs Visitor Centre, the former Tramway gas station is located at the foot of the road that leads to the Palm Springs Aerial Tramway, hence its name. With a soaring triangular roof set against the mountain backdrop it’s a stunning example of modernism, and a great place to stop for a selfie.
Saunter by a chic hotel
Numerous hotels in Palm Springs embody modernism perfection; low roofs, structures with wide windows wrapped around central courtyard with a glistening pool that invites you out into the desert twilight. Have a look at the L’Horizon Hotel, or the Orbit In where guests gather round the courtyard bar at sunset to mingle and sip Orbitinis. The funky and chic Ace Hotel & Swim Club also features a beautiful design and quirky decor. Make sure to have breakfast in the King’s Highway just off the lobby, or wind down the day with a cocktail in the cool, dark and low-ceilinged Amigo Room.
See how the modernist family lives – Wexler Steel Homes
The Wexler Steel homes were a marvel of new-style design and construction when they were built. A subdivision was created around the simple designs, and despite the fact it was never completed due to the skyrocketing price of steel in the day, it’s still a modernist mecca today. The original seven homes are located in the Racquet Club Estates neighbourhood that spreads north and south of Racquet Club Road, on N. Sunnyview Drive. between Simms and E. Molina roads in North Palm Springs.
There are dozens of cool residential homes worth seeing. Check out my previous blog here for a sampling. If you know of a place that should be on our list, let us know!