Architectural Tours of Modern Palm Springs
Architecture has been a passion of mine forever. And having lived in the Palm Springs Valley on and off for my entire life, I’ve loved watching some of my favorite buildings become classic icons. So when a couple of friends were visiting from Chicago, I knew that one of the best ways to expose them to the rich architectural world of Palm Springs was to have them take Patti Hanley’s “Palm Springs Walking Tour.”
Beginning in the center of downtown, Patti starts off with a brief—and very helpful—overview of modern architecture (with references to master designers like Le Corbusier, Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius, and Frank Lloyd Wright), the progression from the International Style to what we now call Mid-Century Modern, and the materials and features of this style of design. And then it’s off to the races!
The 90-minute, one-mile stroll takes you through town, starting with two of the oldest structures in the area, which have been relocated and restored. Some of the most important and impressive buildings, most of them on Palm Canyon Drive, are highlighted… Beautiful bank buildings designed by E. Steward Williams. Donald Wexler’s Merrill Lynch Building. The spectacular screens outside Union Bank. The old Saks Fifth Avenue and J.W. Robinson’s department stores. They’re all there—and then some!
Patti also offers some other fun tours, including “Palm Springs History: Past To Present” and evening tours of “Ghosts and Legends of Palm Springs.” Her nominal fees are worth every penny. And these excursions are also a great primer for one of Palm Springs’ biggest annual affair—Modernism Week—which takes place every year in February and offers a huge variety of lectures, exhibits, and guided visits, including very special views of one of my all time favorites, the Sunnylands estate in Rancho Mirage.