Mid-century/desert modern buildings
Hidden in plain site, many of Palm Canyon Drive’s mid-century modern commercial buildings are easy to overlook, but if you can see past the “gingerbread” of their contemporary trappings then you’ll notice some pretty innovative work.
By no means are these all the modernist buildings in Palm Springs (there’s a lot!), simply a few of our favorites along Palm Canyon Drive. Listed from north to south, just click on addresses below for Google Map locations.
Harold Hicks Real Estate & Insurance Building (1345 N. Palm Canyon Drive) – Designed by modernist architect E. Stewart Williams in 1955, this former commercial building is a stand out and now home to a design collective of shops and services known as The Shops at Thirteen Forty-Five.
Clark & Frey Building (879 N. Palm Canyon Drive) – Designed in the late 1940s by modernist architects John Porter Clark and Albert Frey as their firm’s own office building, this minimalist 2-story structure is currently home to Wil Stiles men’s fashions.
Kocher-Samson Building (766 N. Palm Canyon Drive) – Three years after the 1931 debut of their Aluminaire House – the first all-metal prefabricated house built in the U.S. – Albert Frey and his then partner, A. Lawrence Kocher, designed this cutting edge live/work space for Kocher’s brother. Arguably the first modernist structure in Palm Springs, today the building’s main tenant is vintage store Bon Vivant.
Rackstrom-Reid Building (666 N. Palm Canyon Drive) – Architect Howard Lapham designed many mid-century homes for Coachella Valley’s wealthy residents but with this unique 1961 commercial commission he was able to take desert modernism to a much larger scale. The building features natural stone, metal clad screening and a large concrete frame that wraps around the building. Retail is located at street level with office space upstairs.
Henry Frank Arcade Building (266-278 N. Palm Canyon Drive) – This late 1960s historic retail building has more going for it than just its awesome post & beam architecture. If you enter at 270-278 and walk towards the rear of the arcade you’ll see a telescope pointing towards Mt. San Jacinto which, when viewed, reveals the profile of President Abraham Lincoln on the mountain. We’re not making this up!
Oasis Commercial Building (101 S. Palm Canyon Drive) – Designed with the International Style in mind by E. Stewart Williams (and interiors by Paul. R. Williams), the Oasis Building served as very fashionable office & retail space in the early 1950s. It serves a similar purpose now, only with a busy Japanese Restaurant and Starbucks Coffee as its anchors. Don’t miss the awesome mid-century staircase at the rear of the building!
Oasis Hotel Tower (121 S. Palm Canyon Drive) – Not a commercial building, per se, but what’s left of the 1925 Oasis Hotel, a slip-form concrete masterpiece frequented by many movie stars of the day and designed by Frank Lloyd Wright‘s son, Lloyd Wright. This deco moderne tower is all that remains of the original building. It’s set back from the street right next to the Oasis Commercial Building.
Robinson’s Department Store (333 S. Palm Canyon Drive) – This once chic shopping destination was designed by Pereira & Luckman in the late 1950s and still retains its mid-century modern department store charm. Home to The Alley Imports for many years, the Class 1 Historic Site was utilized to great success during Modernism Week 2016 and will soon be refurbished to house a new group of appropriate retailers.
For more commercial buildings…banks! – click here.
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