Palm Springs Art Museum
Palm Desert
Edwards Harris Center
E. Stewart

Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design, Edwards Harris Pavilion

The new Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion, in downtown Palm Springs will be the hub of the museum's exploration of architecture and design, and houses related exhibitions and educational and community programs, as well as research space and a storage area for the museum's growing architecture and design collections and archives. The opening exhibition, An Eloquent Modernist, E. Stewart Williams, Architect, celebrates the accomplishments of Williams, the acclaimed architect who designed the historic building in 1961 to be the Santa Fe Federal Savings & Loan and who was one of the most important architects of the Desert Modern style, developed in and around Palm Springs in the middle of the 20th century.

"Palm Springs has the world's greatest concentration per capita of midcentury modern architecture, and so it is a natural fit for the Palm Springs Art Museum to increase its commitment to architecture and design through exhibitions, educational programs, and research," said Dr. Steven A. Nash, the JoAnn McGrath Executive Director of the Palm Springs Art Museum. "It was important to us not only to be a leader in these fields, but also to be able to preserve this important example of Desert Modernism."

The building, purchased by the museum in 2011, is a classic midcentury International style structure. After changing hands several times, it recently received Class 1 Historic Site protective status. The rehabilitation is being overseen by preeminent Los Angeles architecture firm Marmol Radziner, known for the restoration of the famed Kaufmann House and the Ship of the Desert residence, both in Palm Springs. The firm based its restoration designs on black-and-white photographs of the building taken by Julius Shulman, as well as Williams' original drawings.

The 13,000 square-foot glass and steel building is elevated above street level, and the glass pavilion features floor-to-ceiling windows that perfectly frame the cityscape and the surrounding San Jacinto Mountains. The main level will feature gallery space for architecture and design exhibitions, curatorial offices, and a store located in and around the bank vault, which retains its original door. The lower level will become a study center as well as provide meeting and archive spaces.

Renovations include removing office dividers to create one seamless space, removing carpeting to reveal the original terrazzo floor, and adding sustainable desert landscaping. The museum has also added an elevator, restored the perimeter retaining walls, and replaced and restored the movable, anodized aluminum screens original to the west-facing facade.

Palm Springs Art Museum, which recently celebrated its 75th anniversary, holds major collections of modern and contemporary art, glass, photography, architecture and design, and Native American and Western art. The museum was also designed by E. Stewart Williams in 1976 and expanded by him in 1996.

Over the last 10 years, Palm Springs Art Museum has placed a growing emphasis on exhibitions devoted to architecture and design. The museum's architecture collections (including drawings, photography, and models) are growing rapidly, as highlighted by the recent gift of the large L.J. Cella Collection of drawings, photographs, and objects. The museum also holds significant portions of the Albert Frey, E. Stewart Williams, and Arthur Elrod/Harold Broderick archives. The collection also includes Frey House-II, the historically significant residence in Palm Springs that architect Albert Frey designed for himself and bequeathed to the museum.

"We want to ensure that our growing collection is accessible to architects, scholars, and the general public, and that we have the opportunity to develop more programming focused on architecture and design, including current innovations in these fields," said Sidney Williams, the museum's curator of architecture and design. "The new A+D Center provides us with the much needed space for our permanent collection and temporary exhibitions, and the E. Stewart Williams-designed building itself is an important addition to our collection."

Palm Springs Art Museum launched a capital campaign in 2011 to raise funds for the purchase and rehabilitation of the A+D Center. Three donors provided the lead gifts for the purchase of the building: Trina Turk and Jonathan Skow, Elizabeth Edwards Harris, and John Boccardo, and to date, more than 100 founding members have each committed $25,000 to support the rehabilitation and initial operations.

Architecture and Design Center
300 South Palm Canyon Drive
Palm Springs, Ca 92264
760-423-5260
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday, and Sunday 10 a.m. - 5 p.m.
Thursday 12 p.m. - 8 p.m.
Closed Monday and Tuesday
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