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Palm Springs Celebrates All Things Mid-Century Modern

Palm Springs is known worldwide for its mid-century modern homes, and Modernism Week is back to celebrate everything mid-century modern. Running Feb. 13-23, Modernism Week honors not just the architecture of the 1950s and ‘60s, but also the art, fashion, design and culture of the Jet Set era.

This year, the 11-day festival offers over 150 events and is expected to attract more than 35,000 people participating in home tours, lectures, exhibits and parties. The city-wide event coincides with the annual Palm Springs Modernism Show interior designer showcase, now in its 14th year, being held at the Palm Springs Convention Center on Feb. 14-17.

One of Modernism Week’s highlights will be tours of the Christopher Kennedy Compound, open to the public for the first time. Named for acclaimed designer Christopher Kennedy, the house was designed by noted architect Stan Sackley. It was built in 1971 but has been reimagined for today’s California lifestyle with pieces by celebrity designers.

“I am humbled by how generously both the local and national design/build communities have stepped up to provide talent, time and product to reinterpret this iconic property in true Palm Springs-style,” says Kennedy. “My goal with the Compound is to celebrate Palm Springs’ architecture in its heyday while updating a swanky vintage house for the realities of modern living using the best of today's technology.”

Modernism Week also includes several free events, including an exhibit at the Palm Springs Library (300 Sunrise Way) focusing on the works of noted architect Hugh M. Kaptur, who built over 200 mid-century modern homes, apartment complexes, hotels and commercial buildings in the Coachella Valley. Kaptur will also be honored in a dedication ceremony on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars on the corner of Baristo and Palm Canyon Drive on Feb. 14 at 2 p.m., and his career will be the subject of a lecture at the library on Feb. 22 at 10:30 a.m.

Another free lecture, titled “Lost, Saved & Endangered: Modernist Architecture in Palm Springs,” offers amusing anecdotes and vintage photos of important buildings in the city. That lecture is Feb. 19 at 8:30 a.m. at the Palm Springs Women’s Club (314 S. Cahuilla Rd.).

The week will also see many of the buildings along Palm Canyon Drive—which were designed by prominent desert architects—illuminated in special colors nightly from 5 p.m. to midnight with the name of the architect and year of construction projected onto the structures.

Modernism Week launched in 2006 as a way to foster appreciation of mid-century architecture and design, as well as encourage preservation. A complete list of the events can be found at