New: Palm Springs Architecture and Design Center

The new Palm Springs Art Museum pavilion spotlights the area's striking style.

MID-CENTURY CREATIVE LAB: When a city is on the rise, one destined to become a tony destination of world-class proportions, the builders and designers and landscapers and urban planners aren't always cognizant, in the moment, of the overall look of the town, its visual vibe and forward-facing character. Sometimes quick growth means quick decisions, decisions that have more to do with making an attractive play place that appeals to the changing tastes of current users rather than vacationers 50 years into the future. That's one of the many things that makes Palm Springs a stand-out in terms of a cohesive look and consistent architectural practices.

FOR SURE... the desert resort has a history that stretches far earlier than the mid-century, and some pretty Spanish-Mission structures to show for it, but once that streamlined, flat- or triangled-roofed, outdoor-living style arrived in the 1950s and '60s, Palm Springs embraced it and never looked back. Which makes this pool-dotted destination a vast open-air museum, a love letter to mid-century modernism, and a city ripe for a high-minded hub dedicated to mid-century style, philosophy, and lifestyle. And it got it: The Palm Springs Museum's Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion opened its doors earlier in November, with the mission to support research, education, and the enjoyment of the region's mid-century heritage.

FIRST UP... is an exhibit spotlighting E. Stewart Williams, the man who designed the Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan (the year was 1961, a prime time for the flowering of all wonders mid-century). The show runs through Feb. 22, so if you're planning on swinging by Modernism Week, the multi-day gathering of mid-century enthusiasts that lands in Palm Springs each February, you'll be able to see it, and the new structure-celebrating center. To keep tabs on what's happening at the 13,000-square-foot center, which takes in both Palm Springs and the San Jacinto Mountains, big-glass-wall-style, click.

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