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Plan a Weekend Escape to Palm Springs

Palm Springs, once a desert playground for the likes of the Rat Pack and their purportedly tempermental lady loves is now a destination for neohippies (aka flower-strewn Coachella and Stagecoach festivalgoers) and modern design enthusiasts alike. The town’s original architects—Richard Neutra, Donald Wexler, and Albert Frey, to name a few—were pioneers of modernism, placing unprecedented value on low-slung silhouettes and uncomplicated materials. For a weekend jaunt, you can keep the list of must-see desert-modern marvels short, but be sure to include Frey’s Tramway Gas Station (now the Palm Springs Visitors Center) and Neutra’s Kaufmann House, renovated by starchitects Leo Marmol and Ron Radziner. Their West LA studio also deserves a hat tip for the rehab of the former Santa Fe Federal Savings and Loan, which will reopen in November as the Palm Spring Art Museum’s new design annex. The inaugural exhibit will be a retrospective of the work of the building’s original architect, E. Stewart Williams.

Speaking of historic homages, new additions to the architectural landscape respect the town’s strong design heritage. For example, the classic 1950s celebrity hangout, Red Barn, is alive and well as the Sparrows Hotel, a 20-room rustic hideaway from the masterminds behind the utterly charming inn, Korakia Pensione. The highly anticipated Arrive Palm Springs, a project courtesy of Facebook employee number 6, Ezra Callahan, and his PS-based architect Chris Pardo (who also drew up the blueprints for the bikini-and-marg hot spot, Hacienda Cantina and Beach Club, which opened in April on S. Palm Canyon Drive) is a midcentury-inspired resort with zigzag roofs, an elemental materials palette, and a green design that strives for LEED Gold certification. It’s officially scheduled to, er, arrive in late 2014. 

Getting there: United Airlines and Virgin America have direct flights from SFO to the Donald Wexler–designed Palm Springs Airport.

Tips: Click here for tips on where to sleep and eat in Palm Springs on three different budgets. 

This article was published in 7x7's May 2014 issue. Click here to subscribe.