The Architecture and Design Center, Edwards Harris Pavilion, in downtown Palm Springs is 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 building, purchased by the museum in 2011, is a classic midcentury International style structure designed by E. Stewart Williams in 1961 as the Santa Fe Federal Savings and Loan. After changing hands several times, it received Class 1 Historic Site protective status. The rehabilitation was overseen by preeminent Los Angeles architecture firm Marmol Radziner, known for the restoration of the famed Kaufmann House and 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 features gallery space, includes offices, and a store located in and around the bank vault, which retains its original door. The lower level includes a study center with meeting space, archive and collection spaces, archivist office, and a library.
Renovations included removing office dividers to create one seamless space, removing carpeting to reveal the original terrazzo floor, and adding sustainable desert landscaping. The museum also added an elevator, restored the perimeter retaining walls, and replaced and restored the movable, anodized aluminum screens original to the west-facing facade. A campaign to restore the east-facing screens is being developed.
Palm Springs Art Museum holds major collections of modern and contemporary art, glass, photography, architecture and design, and Native American and Western art. The main museum building was also designed by E. Stewart Williams in 1976 and expanded by him in 1996.
Over the last decade, Palm Springs Art Museum has placed a growing emphasis on exhibitions devoted to architecture and design. The museum's architecture collections (including drawings, photography, models, and archival material) are growing rapidly, as highlighted by the 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, Arthur Elrod/Harold Broderick, and Hugh Kaptur archives. The collection also includes Frey House II, the historically significant residence in Palm Springs that architect Albert Frey designed for himself in 1963 and bequeathed to the museum upon his death in 1998.
"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 founding curator of architecture and design. "The 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 or architectural assets."
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 more than 130 founding members committed the funds to support the Center's rehabilitation and initial operations.