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Kaufmann House

Kaufmann House

Peek at one of the most significant buildings of the post-World War II era

Many mid-century modern experts rank Palm Springs' Kaufmann House among the most important American houses of the 20th century. Even though you can only peer at this spectacular private residence from the end of its driveway, its design aesthetic is undeniable.

In 1946, architect Richard Neutra created this stunning blending of steel, glass, and Utah stone as a desert getaway for Edgar J. Kaufmann Sr., a Pittsburgh department-store magnate and architecture connoisseur who had commissioned Frank Lloyd Wright to create his Pennsylvania pad, the iconic Fallingwater.

Neutra designed Kaufmann's low-slung, 3,162-square-foot Palm Springs compound in a cross shape. An airy living and dining room—oriented east to west to make the most of sunsets and sunrises—anchored the cross's center, with four "wings" branching outward through covered breezeways.

The wings, which contain the kitchen, master bedroom, and four guest bedrooms, blur the line between indoors and outdoors with sliding glass walls that open up to sprawling lawns, cacti and palm gardens, and a sleek-lined pool. Partially shaded patios surround each bedroom; metal walls with movable slats offer protection from the relentless desert sun.

The home was photographed by famous photographers including Julius Shulman in 1947 and Slim Aarons in 1970. Aarons' shot, called Poolside Gossip, has been printed on everything from tote bags to lunchboxes.

After Kaufmann died in 1955, the house had several celebrity owners who modified the original structure and grounds, including singer Barry Manilow. But in 1992, the Kaufmann House was purchased by an architectural historian who restored the dwelling to its original glory.

The home remains one of Neutra's most famous residential works (out of more than 300 homes he designed) and a featured stop on every Palm Springs architecture tour. Take a peek by driving by 470 West Vista Chino.

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