With just a few scant days left to buy tickets for the DOCOMOMO Architectural Bus Tours this weekend, we thought we’d bring you one last preview to whet your architectural appetite. The renowned midcentury architects of Palm Springs did not limit their work to designing dream houses for the likes of Old Blue Eyes and other movies stars exclusively. They thankfully accepted a variety of commissions, designing more mundane buildings for a growing city with more needs for gas stations, schools, churches, government buildings, and retails stores. The result is that today, Palm Springs is a desert oasis full of unexpected gems.
The Coachella Valley Savings and Loan #2building located at 499 S. Palm Canyon Drive stands out as one of these gems; a true landmark of mid-century architecture. Designed by E. Stewart Williams in 1960, the building is now occupied by Chase. But far from being a ubiquitous bank building, #2 stuns with its dramatic inverted arches. This distinguished building is probably one of the most-photographed banks in the country and at the time of its construction, when pent-up consumer demand was fueling exceptionally strong economic growth in a post war period, the building’s regal facade and imposing profile inspired confidence and optimism.
As an interesting side note, the Santa Fe Federal Savings and Loan building, which was also designed by E. Stewart Williams and lay vacant for many years, will also soon experience a second life. The Palm Springs Art Museum has announced that it will be transforming the building into the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Edwards Harris Center for Architecture and Design, with the help of LA architects Marmol + Radziner (who are no strangers to restoring midcentury Palm Springs architecture). The Architecture and Design Center hopes to open its doors in early 2014.
To see these and other amazing commercial and civic architectural landmarks, don’t miss the bus tour this weekend. There are still a few spots left. But don’t forget to wear a wide-brimmed hat!
Photo by Darren Bradley