What to see at Modernism Week in Palm Springs

For this year's guide, visit our digital Palm Springs architecture tour. Modernism Week is your key to the colourful doors and private enclaves of the midcentury modern town of Palm Springs in California. The 2020 programme offered up tours of modernist communities Park Imperial South and Racquet Club Cottages West, as well as a stroll through Vista Las Palmas with famed Palm Springs architects William Krisel and Charles E. Du Bois – plus all the usual poolside cocktails, schmoozing and mid-mod madness. Photography: Sabrina Che

Park Imperial South in Palm Springs

(Image credit: Sabrina Che)

Inside Park Imperial South

Architect Barry Berkus’ over-50-year career started at his first completed design, Park Imperial South near Palm Canyon in Palm Springs. He designed the structure in 1960, when he was just 25, as a 'living resort' adapted to desert life. The collection of 30 homes, each at 1,400 sq ft, shows off many elements of midcentury modern architecture, such as the sculptural concrete block walls, floor to ceiling windows and triangular clerestory windows. The folded roof was inspired by the peaks of the San Jacinto and Santa Rosa mountains.

Modernism Week presents an opportunity to explore inside to see the original interiors such as circular pendant light fixtures, Shoji screens and signature kitchen islands with angular turquoise stove exhaust hoods. Park Imperial South Home Tour, 15 February, Park Imperial South, 1786 South Araby Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92264

Walker Guest House Replica

(Image credit: Sabrina Che)

Last chance to see the Walker Guest House replica

Modernism Week is the last opportunity to see this full-scale furnished replica of architect Paul Rudolph’s iconic 1952 Walker Guest House before it is sold at auction. Rudolph designed the original as a beach cottage for the subtropical climate of Sanibel Island, Florida, in the style of the Sarasota School of Architecture movement (1941-1966).

The replica has been furnished to the original 1952 style and can be explored on a tour during Modernism Week hosted by the Palm Springs Modern Committee. Found in downtown Palm Springs near the Palm Springs Art Musuem, the house has been on loan to the Palm Springs Modern Committee from the Sarasota Architectural Foundation in Florida. Read more about the Walker Guest House auction hereTours run everyday between February 13 - 23, Pit west of The Rowan Hotel: 100 W Tahquitz Canyon Way, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Racquet Club William Cody

(Image credit: Sabrina Che)

Escape to the Racquet Club Cottages West modernist oasis

Explore William Cody’s serene group of homes at the Racquet Club Cottages West while sipping on a Bloody Mary. Los Angeles developer Paul Trousdale worked with Cody to create a quiet modern enclave of 37 homes as an antidote to the celebrity-filled Palm Springs life. Built in 1960, the cottages are immersed in an oasis of palm trees, curved pathways and meandering streams and rarely seen by outsiders.

The houses feature exposed beams, thin rooflines, private patios, floor-to-ceiling sliding glass doors, and room service deliered from the nearby Palm Springs Racquet Club. The tour offers an exciting opportunity to hear Catherine Cody Nemirovsky discuss her father’s life and work. Read more about the Racquet Club Cottages West here16 February, 360 Cabrillo Road, Palm Springs, CA 92262

Herbert Burns 500 West

(Image credit: Sabrina Che)

50th anniversary of 500 West

New to the Modernism Week programme is a tour of Herbert Burns’ 500 West located in the heart of the Historic Tennis Club neighborhood. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the condominium community which was Burns’ final project, of many in the neighbourhood and across Palm Springs. He also designed the Hideaway and the Orbit Inn. His style has been recognised as the Late Moderne style, a more decorative version of modernism that features stone walls, deep overhangs, horizontal eaves, and private patios spaces.

Palm Springs Preservation Foundation board member Steven Keylon, who has written a book on the architect’s life, will be at the site to discuss Burns’ work and lead tours of homes remodelled after the original designs. 16 February, 500 West Arenas Road, Palm Springs, CA 92262

House of Tomorrow

(Image credit: Sabrina Che)

Stroll through Vista Las Palmas with William Krisel and Charles E. Du Bois

The iconic Vista Las Palmas neighbourhood is known as the Beverly Hills of Palm Springs and was home to Hollywood royalty including Elvis Presley, Dean Martin, Marylin Monroe, Peter Lawford, Kim Novak and Joan Collins. Palm Springs developer George Alexander pioneered the neighbourhood from 1958. In 1960, his son Robert built the ‘House of Tomorrow’, pictured here, for his family. While homes by architects William Krisel and Charles E. Du Bois, show prime examples of butterfly roofs and Swiss Miss A-frames.

A Modernism Week tour of the Vista Las Palmas neighbourhood will be led by experts on the Alexander Company and architects William Krisel and Charles Du Bois will be on hand to answer questions. 15 February, Temple Isaiah 332 W Alejo Rd Palm Springs, CA 92262

the Guggenheim House

(Image credit: Sabrina Che)

Featured home tour: The Guggenheim house 

In Indian Canyons, the neighbourhood of Frank Sinatra and Walt Disney, the Guggenheim House is one of the Featured Home Tours in the Modernism Week programme. The home was named the ‘Guggenheim House’ in honour of the legendary Gigi Guggenheim.

Originally built in 1967, the four-bedroom house has been recently renovated with a bold colour pallette and brands such as Brizo, Corian and Dunn-Edwards Paints to evoke the Palm Springs style. Designer Michael Ostrow of Grace Home Furnishings is responsible for the contemporary furnishings and vintage pieces on display at the house. Daily Febrary 14 – 16, 2431 S. Yosemite Drive, Palm Springs, CA 92264

Harriet Thorpe is a writer, journalist and editor covering architecture, design and culture, with particular interest in sustainability, 20th-century architecture and community. After studying History of Art at the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS) and Journalism at City University in London, she developed her interest in architecture working at Wallpaper* magazine and today contributes to Wallpaper*, The World of Interiors and Icon magazine, amongst other titles. She is author of The Sustainable City (2022, Hoxton Mini Press), a book about sustainable architecture in London, and the Modern Cambridge Map (2023, Blue Crow Media), a map of 20th-century architecture in Cambridge, the city where she grew up.