Mid-century architecture explored during Modernism Week

BY JACOB SCHULTE

STAFF REPORTER

Photos courtesy of The Chaparral. Original Walker guest house in Sanibel, Fl. Photo by Michael Berio, courtesy of the Paul Rudolph Heritage Foundation.

Modernism Week is over in Palm Springs, but the passion for the influential architecture the city has to offer is still abundant.

Jeri Vogelsang, former director of the Palm Springs Historical Society, admires the work of Paul Rudolph at an exhibit inside the Palm Springs Library.

Jeri Vogelsang is the former director of the Palm Springs Historical Society and was a friend of the deceased Albert Frey, a pioneer of the modern architect we see in the city today. The Swiss-born Frey led the design and construction of the Palm Springs City Hall, The Tramway Gas Station and numerous other buildings around the city. Frey was famous for his elegance in using the desert landscape and surrounding environment to his advantage when designing his constructs.

Jeri explained how Modernism Week came to be after a small group of people decided the art must be persevered and appreciated.

“It was a number of non-profit organizations that joined together. I was the director of the Palm Springs Historical Society. Our group, Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs Modern Community and Palm Springs Presentation Foundation all joined together to contribute events and everything needed.”

The Palm Springs Library featured a free exhibit during Modernism Week that showcased the work of famed American architect Paul Rudolph. Rudolph graduated from Harvard University in 1947 and served as chair of Yale University’s Department of Architect for six years (1958-1964). A pioneer of the modernism sub-genre Brutalism, Rudolph’s work include the Walker guest house, a small house with stunning retractable wall panels that transform the feeling of the entire residence in an instant. A replica of the Walker guest house could be toured during Modernism Week.

Despite its humble beginnings, the passion for the massively influential age in an architect is clear as the event grows each year. Jeri is happy with the growth of the event since the small group of friends and community preservation leaders helped bring the event together.

“In the first year, 2006, it ran for one 4-day weekend. We had two lectures and one bus that ran all day.” Jeri said. “Now, it’s eleven days, over 300 events and probably a dozen buses.” 

If you missed Modernism Week or are looking to learn more about modern architecture, you can visit the Palm Springs Art Museum’s Architecture and design center for free on Thursdays between 4 p.m. and 8 p.m.

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