9 Palm Springs Mid-Century Modern Icons
No California city is as closely identified with mid-century modern architecture as Palm Springs. Visionaries like Richard Neutra, Albert Frey, E. Stewart Williams, and Donald Wexler designed and constructed hundreds of futuristic buildings here between 1945 and 1975, using geometric lines and sleek façades to reflect the optimism of the Atomic Age and accent the desert's brilliant skies and folded hills.
The Palm Springs Visitors Center
The Palm Springs Visitors Center anchors the base of Tramway Road with its space-age profile and triangular roofline, adding a dash of geometric flair to the arid landscape. Built in 1965 as the Enco Tramway Gas Station, this glass-and-steel landmark is known for its soaring, wing-like roof, which architects Albert Frey and Robson Chambers called a "hyperbolic paraboloid.
The Twin Palms Frank Sinatra Estate
When Frank Sinatra made his first million dollars and moved to Palm Springs in 1947, he wanted a house that matched his dazzling celebrity. Architect E. Stewart Williams fulfilled the crooner's wish with Twin Palms, a sprawling 4,500-square-foot mansion with four bedrooms, seven bathrooms, and a piano-shaped swimming pool in the backyard.
The 25,000-square-foot home built for publishing magnate and diplomat Walter Annenberg and his wife, businesswoman and philanthropist Leonore Annenberg, is the showpiece of Sunnylands' 200-acre estate that holds 11 lakes, nine acres of gardens, tennis courts, and a private golf course.
Wexler Steel Houses
Modernist architect Donald Wexler believed that steel was the perfect choice for desert building—it stood tough against sun, heat, and wind, and it was inexpensive. In 1961, he planned to bring affordable housing to Palm Springs by building a 40-home subdivision out of prefabricated steel and glass.
Elvis' Honeymoon Hideaway
The 5,000-square-foot residence where The King and Priscilla enjoyed postnuptial bliss in 1967 is also a mid-century treasure that Look magazine called "The House of Tomorrow." The home was designed by William Krisel and Dan Palmer in 1960 as four connecting circular pods.
Parker Palm Springs
Built in 1959 as California’s first Holiday Inn, the celebrity-favored Parker Palm Springs is a perfect mash-up of Palm Springs’ 1950s roots and post-modern eclecticism.
The Palm Springs City Hall
Under the leadership of Swiss-born master Albert Frey, some of desert-modern design's biggest names—E. Stewart Williams, Robson Chambers, and John Porter Clark—helped to create this 1952 concrete-and-steel building’s signature look, including a portico with a huge circular hole graced by a trio of towering palms.
Considered one of the most important American houses of the 20th century, this spectacular desert getaway was designed by architect Richard Neutra in 1946.
Bank of America Building
A popular architecture magazine of the mid-20th century called this “the most beautiful bank in America," and the building remains much as it was on its opening day in 1959. Now home to a Bank of America branch, the former City National Bank resembles a vibrant blue-and-white mushroom, or, as some say, a white cloud against a blue sky.