Friday, March 8, 2013

A Three Hour Tour

This was my second trip to Palm Springs for Modernism Week.  I was fortunate enough to be invited to join a friend on the sold out, Double Decker Architectural Bus Tour this time around.  I was thrilled for the opportunity and couldn't wait to get on that bus!

The Premier Bus Tour is a three hour event that takes you around to world-famous, mid-century homes and celebrity vacation hot spots.  While sipping my coffee on the most beautiful, sunny morning, I enjoyed learning more about a variety of architects that made Palm Springs the place it is today.   Such architects as Albert Frey, Arthur Elrod, William F. Cody, Charles DuBois, Donald Wexler, and A. Quincy Jones were just a handful of names that rolled off the tour guide's tongue. I was enjoying myself so much that I forgot to snap pictures on the first half of the trip!  

It was fun seeing some of the celebrity homes on the tour.  We drove by homes that were owned or visited by Kirk Douglas, Cary Grant, Dinah Shore, Elizabeth Taylor, Elvis and Marilyn Monroe, among many others.  We also drove by Susan Sommers, Barry Manilow and Trina Turk's current residences.

'The House of Tomorrow' via Mid Century Palm Springs
This is the home that Elvis and Priscilla honeymooned in.

The bus stopped at the the Palm Springs Visitor Center (Architects: Albert Frey and Robson Chambers, 1983.)  This roadside stop was a beautiful building that featured a steel-cantilevered roof on just a few of steel posts.  It was originally known as the Tramway Gas/Service Station and closed its' doors in the 1990s. 

Via Vacation Palm Springs
The bus continued on to more Historic Preservation homes and distinct neighborhoods in the area.  Here are a few pictures I did take of the trip.  

This was the most unique home I saw on the tour (below).  This is Kenny Irwin's "Robot House" which displays over 200 metal sculptures in just under 4 acres.  I understand that the Christmas light show here is quite spectacular!

I was intrigued by the Steel Houses designed by Donald Wexler.  Wexler partnered with father/son owned, Alexander Construction Company to provide homeowners with modern, steel design in an affordable tract home construction.  Prefab was not a common way of construction at the time, but a home like this went for $14,000 in the day and that made sense to many people.  I loved the concept and would have enjoyed taking a tour of one of these homes.  Unfortunately, time did not allow.

Click here to see a video by Journeyman Architect explaining these steel homes in more detail.

At the end of the tour, I left the bus with new vocabulary;  Pattern Block, Brise-soleil and Swiss Miss were a few words that I plan on using in the near future.  

I highly recommend spending the money to take this tour.  Palm Springs offers this tour during Modernism Week, which is already dated to be February 13-23 for next year.  The event brought in an estimated 40,000 people to Palm Springs this February.  I am guessing that next year will bring in even more!

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