Modernism Week

Mark your calendars for the week of February 17-27 because it’s Modernism Week in Palm Springs! A variety of activities are planned, including home tours, lectures, silent auctions, film, receptions and more.

How did the mid-century modern style become such a symbol of Palm Springs? If the topic is big enough to plan an entire week around, there must be something to this. This style of architecture has long been associated with the Palm Springs area, and if I were going to relate this style to a particular person, Frank Sinatra and his Rat Pack would pop into my head. They were cool, suave, and deliberate, just like the architecture. It really isn’t surprising at all though that mid-century modern makes people think of the stars; that’s because Palm Springs has long been a playground for Hollywood players wanting to escape the glitz and glamour, and they owned some pretty impressive mid-century modern homes. What’s crazy is that the mid-century modern look has hung on all these years, but what’s even more ironic is that the fathers of Palm Springs mid-century architecture followed the same trail as the rich and famous.

George and Bob Alexander of the Alexander Construction Company started the mid-century rage in 1962 after hiring architect William Krisel for their own home. Krisel’s use of never-seen-before geometry caused Look Magazine to dub it the ‘House of Tomorrow.’ Today, visitors still flock to see the home each year, but it’s better known now as the ‘Elvis Honeymoon Hideaway.’ It was Bob, George’s son, who initially posed the idea of building modern homes. His father dismissed the idea at first, but ultimately relinquished a three-acre plot of land to him in Los Angeles’ San Fernando Valley and instructed him to build ten of his homes. They were a great success, and George moved the family to Palm Springs in 1952 to continue building tract homes in the modern style.

Alexander homes are still incredibly popular today, as is the architect who designed them: William Krisel. On Sunday, February 20th, an open house tour of an Alexander Twin Palms Butterfly home will take place with the architect himself from noon until 2:00 p.m. A film about William Krisel will also be screened that day at 2:30 p.m. For tickets and schedule information for Modernism Week, please visit http://www.modernismweek.com.