Desert Modernism – Palm Springs

The European Bauhaus construction style is the inspiration behind Southern California and Southwestern U.S. architecture, also known as the Desert Modernism design philosophy. The angular lines, neutral shades, and stone accents are complementary to the arid, sunny weather.

Homes that are designed in Desert Modernism style have expansive glass windows and streamlined, uniform structure.  Many of the homes created in a Desert Modernism construction format include high, dramatic rooflines and a combination of materials; for instance, wood and stone, or steel and plastic are often paired in cabinetry, doors, and window paneling. This regional take on International-style architecture also features landscape additions like large rocks, trees, and cacti, which makes Desert Modernism a customized style of construction. An outdoor living or recreational space is also included in homes that are designed based on Desert Modernism.

Architects that are associated with the Desert Modernism style include Richard Neutra, William F. Cody, John Lautner, E. Stewart Williams and Donald Wexler.

Examples of Desert Modernism architecture are evident all throughout the Southwest region of the U.S. and the Southern portion of California, but elements of this school of design are especially concentrated in Palm Springs, California. Landmark buildings in the area include the Grace Lewis Miller House, which was built in 1937, with Richard Neutra as the architect. Albert Frey is responsible for the construction of Frey House II, which was erected in 1963; Frey was also the architect behind the Loewy House, which was completed in 1946. E. Stewart Williams designed the faed Edris House in Palm Springs in 1954, as well as the Tramway Upper Station in 1963; Williams was also the architect who headed the building project for the Palm Springs Desert Museum, now the Palm Springs Art Museum, in 1976. John Lautner built the Arthur Elrod House in Palm Springs in 1968.

The Alexander Houses, a construction staple in Palm Springs, are especially sophisticated homes built by Alexander Construction Company that further illustrate Desert Modernism. These homes are adorned with tall, slim palm trees, wood paneling in modest shades of brown and gray, angular roofs, and grass cut in geometric shapes.

Although Desert Modernism became popular at the beginning of the 20th Century, many homeowners continue to request home accents and construct additions in this style.

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