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Mid-century Modern Icons

A guide to the finest retro-cool buildings in the Palm Springs region

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No California city is as closely identified with mid-century modern architecture as Palm Springs. Visionaries like Richard Neutra, Albert Frey, and Donald Wexler designed futuristic buildings here between 1945 and 1975, giving birth to the term “mid-century modern.” The buildings’ simple lines and sleek façades were built to accentuate—not upstage—the fair skies and folded hills of the surrounding desert. 

“People find desert modernism’s clean lines to be an antidote to the messy, busy, over-stimulated lives we now lead,” notes Kurt Cyr, local architecture expert and guide. “This architecture transports them to another time and place.” 

February's Modernism Week—with tours, lectures, and activities—is an excellent time to explore Palm Springs’ architectural landscape, but guided architectural tours, such as Cyr’s entertaining Palm Springs Mod Squad tours, are available year-round; check for details at the Palm Springs Visitors Center, itself a mid-century modern jewel. And for more background on mid-century modern design, visit the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Architecture and Design Center.

—Ann Marie Brown

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