Modern Lifestyle: For the love of Architecture

I wanted to prove that I, as an individual, deserved a place in the world – Paul Revere Williams.

Focus on Palm Springs Modernism and Preserving the Legacy of Paul Revere Williams (1894-1980): Architect to the Stars…and Everyone Else.

Residence in Hollywood, Calif., designed in 1928 by Paul R Williams for banking executive Victor Rosetti.

“Expensive homes are my business and social housing is my hobby,” Williams once said.

Paul Williams added the Crescent Wing to the Beverly Hills Hotel

One of my favorite months to be in Palm Springs is February, if only for the numerous events surrounding Modernism Week.  A feast for the senses; especially the eyes.

The mission of Modernism Week is to celebrate and foster appreciation of midcentury architecture and design, as well as contemporary thinking in these fields, by encouraging education, preservation and sustainable modern living as represented in the greater Palm Springs area.  But you don’t have to be here to appreciate it.  But if you are here, you’ll certainly enjoy it!

Paul Revere Williams Wins 2017 AIA Gold Medal, LAX Theme Building, 1961
Paul Revere Williams

The Man:

“California represented an acceptance of both Williams, as an African-American and his work. Maybe Southern California was the only place he could have achieved all this.” -Robert Timme, dean of the USC School of Architecture 

Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz tapped Williams in 1954 to design their Palm Springs residence.  The Ball Arnaz home is an excellent example of his uncanny ability to transform a client’s dreams into substance.

Frank Sinatra also hired the architect to build a house. Williams recalled the experience designing for the crooner as particularly challenging.

“Frank Sinatra wanted a bedroom; press a button and the doors open to the patio. Press another button and the bed rolls out into the patio.”  Ahhhh….. if you can, why not?

In a nutshell….

Paul Revere Williams is an important part of Southern California’s architectural legacy. He’s well known for his sumptuous residential designs for movie stars, entertainment and business leaders, mastering a range of styles from Southern Colonial to Spanish Colonial, from Hollywood Regency to Modern. While residential design would remain an important part of his practice, in the course of his five-decade career, Williams designed thousands of buildings of all types, served on many municipal, state and federal commissions, and was active in political and social organizations earning the admiration and respect of his peers.

Modernism Week – February 15-25, 2018.

In addition, Modernism Week will feature two talks about Williams and his influence in midcentury modern architecture.

The world is a better place because of him.



Life+Style: A peek behind the hedges 

OLD LAS PALMAS – an intimate glimpse into old Palm Springs

Mary Pickford Estate
Mary Pickford Estate

Thanks to a friend of mine I had the privilege of visiting eight outstanding homes & gardens as part of Modernism week.  This is the first time that these unique homes have been opened to the public.tour18tour19
tour8The little enclave known as Old Las Palmas has always been recognized as one of the premier neighborhoods in Palm Springs and many of the older estates and homes have been updated and enhanced over the years.   As we tiptoed through the tulips Mary Pickford’s estate, the home of Mary Martin,  a home Howard Hughes had built for himself (a long time residence of film director Howard Hawks) Liberace’s house and others, we wore little slippers to cover our shoes from tracking dirt through the houses. Each home was as interesting and magnificent as the next. Of course I sneaked in a few selfies!

A little info about a lotta glamour

Old Las Palmas boasts the largest number of celebrity homes in Palm Springs, dating back to the mid-1920’s.  Some of the well-known celebrities who have lived here include Elizabeth Taylor and Michael Todd, Liberace, Mary Martin, Goldie Hawn & Kurt Russell, Lily Tomlin, Lucille Ball and Desi Arnaz, Debbie Reynolds, Kirk Douglas, Edgar Bergen, Samuel Goldwyn, Edward G. Robinson, Clarke Gable, Gene Autry, George Hamilton, Harold Robbins, George Randolph Hearst, Ronald and Nancy Reagon and countless others.  The many, world-renowned architects who have built homes for their clients here include William Krisel, Cliff May, Donald Wexler and E. Stewart Williams.


Home of the original Peter Pan - Mary Martin
Home of the original Peter Pan – Mary Martin

Among the splattering of residents the area is alive and kicking with current Hollywood icons such as Leonardo DiCaprio who owns the house Dinah Shore used to live in.  We drove by but it was unfortunately not part of our home & garden tour.

A colorful quintessential midcentury re-design
A colorful quintessential midcentury update

The Old Las Palmas Neighborhood Organization makes sure to protect and preserve its special heritage.


photos: d. king (while lovely to look at, these photos only reflect a bit of the elegance and don’t really capture the expanse of these charming homes).  Also, I took many photos inside the homes and realize that it would overwhelm one post.) I hope you enjoy them nonetheless.


Design/Film: The Architect

“As an Architect  I have the job of transforming hopes and dreams into wood, glass, steel and concrete.  But if the dreams aren’t there, there is very little I can do.”

– a line from the  The Architect

Clip from the Film
Still from the Film

Last night I attended the VIFF premiere of a new movie called “The Architect”.  I wanted to see a light comedy after the heaviness of the last several movies.  Something with a design element to it.  The Architect was reminiscent of “The Cable Guy” starring Jim Carrey but only in the sense that the architect (played by James Frain) was annoyingly cloying in his attempt to help out, thus getting on the nerves of his employers as he tries to infiltrate their lives.

The movie was written and directed by Jonathan Parker who was in attendance to answer questions from the audience as was one of the main characters, Eric McCormack (Will & Grace, Broadway, etc. Parker Posey plays his wife in this bizarre tale of obsession and deceit when a couple (played by McCormack & Posey) hire a supposedly top notch visionary architect to build their dream house right after buying a tear-down.  But what they’re not prepared for is the architect’s brash ego informing them to follow his own designs and desires.  The wife, a creative type of her own,  gets swept up by the architect as creative designer – a stark contrast to her husband’s very practical side.  A husband by the way,  quite skeptical of the intentions of the architect in question.

You begin to realize who the dream house really belongs to –  The Architect.architect1

What’s funny is that Eric McCormack (originally from Vancouver) is building a home here and his own architect was at the screening.  He pointed him out in the audience at the Vancouver Playhouse.  He said if that wasn’t enough he also hired an interior designer.

Some lines from the film:

I don’t know why people hire architects and then tell them what to do

I believe it is just as important to design a chicken coup as it is to design a cathedral

Q & A
Q & A with Director and Actor.  Photo: d. king

The Trailer:

For more information on the Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF) please visit:

Art/Culture – Getty Villa

7,000 years of ancient art, from the end of the Stone Age to the fall of the Roman Empire.villa3On all my previous visits to L.A. I never ventured to the Getty Villa until now.  I really didn’t realize what I was missing and it’s quite fascinating especially if you’re into antiquities.  The grounds alone are worth the outing, and the majority of art and sculptures at this Malibu hilltop hideaway are original pieces with a few recreations.

The educational center and museum is dedicated to the study of the arts and cultures of ancient Greece, Rome and Etruria. The J. Paul Getty Museum at the Villa features more than 1,200 antiquities from the permanent collection, as well as changing and loan exhibitions.

Drinking Vessels
Drinking Vessels

The villa itself is a recreation of an ancient Roman country house that offers a taste of life in the first century A.D.

*Discovery of the Victorious Youth
*Discovery of the Victorious Youth.  See description below.

The gardens are inspired by ancient models, with species from the ancient world.villa1

Of course a visit to any museum is not complete without checking out the gift shop.

*The Discovery of the Victorious Youth (above photo): Very few bronze statues remain from antiquity.  The Victorious Youth was recovered from an ancient shipwreck in international waters in the Adriatic Sea.  It was probably on its way to Rome, where many Greek sculptures were taken to be displayed in cities and villas. The statue was found in the 1960’s and had lost its feet.  Otherwise, he’s not in bad shape.

Photos: d. king


Seen in Palm Springs: Bob Hope’s Architectural Masterpiece for sale.

hope house 1 hope house 2 hope house 3 hope house view

Bob Hope’s legendary Palm Springs mansion has gone on the market for an eye-watering $50m.  It is the most famous property owned by the legendary comic, who was extremely passionate about architecture.

No wonder he was so cheerfulthe entertainer was often cited as the biggest private landowner in California.   Bob Hope had this house built in Palm Springs but never actually moved into it.  The house he lived in was much more modest.  If you can afford it and love living large then there’s a lot of HOPE for this house.

The futuristic California home was designed by renowned Modern architect John Lautner especially for the funnyman and his beloved wife Dolores.The concrete, steel and glass house was built in 1979 and has about 22,000 square feet of living space, and its unique design is somewhat reminiscent of the USS Enterprise.Buyer’s will get to boldly go where no-one except the Hope family has gone before.

Viewtiful: Bob had it sited on San Jacinto mountain to have a spectacular view overlooking the Coachella Valley – stunning. The property was specially designed to take advantage of the glorious natural landscape
The living room is said to have a gigantic boulder jutting into it.
Good luck to the new owners – whoever they may be!

Travel: Santa Fe

Route 66This is my second visit to Santa Fe, New Mexico.  It has a very serene and spiritual nature. Native Market

This city is a mecca for arts and culture.  I love the rich history which melds Hispanic, Anglo and Native American influences which are apparent in everything from the architecture to the food & the art.

Beautiful Beaded Bangles
Beautiful Beaded Bangles + way more

Today we spent the whole day wandering around the old Santa Fe Plaza with the outdoor art market and countless little art galleries, shops and restaurants.This is also considered a foodie paradise. store

For exercise you can bike and hike all year round and also there’s skiing a short distance away from Thanksgiving through Easter.

I’m in love with the Adobe style ArchitectureSanta Fe house 3…..

GallerySanta Fe houseSanta Fe house 2House 4Gallery 2Photos: d. king