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Architecture of Greater Palm Springs

The Coachella Valley has developed an international reputation for significant architecture. But what drew so many esteemed architects here in the first place?

“The open desert juxtaposed against the steep escarpment of Mount San Jacinto is an architect’s dream proscenium to build upon. Since the area attracted so much architectural talent during the post-war boom years, Palm Springs’ famed school of architects was challenged by its peers to do its best, one and the other, and to come up with the most flamboyant and unique designs or the smartest use of inexpensive materials. Brian Eno, the musician and theorist, has a name for moments in time when a group of people, not just an individual, converge to organically create a new cultural scene, style, story. He calls it “scenius”, a common form of the concept of genius. The beautiful desert landscape, the labor available during an unprecedented period of America’s economic expansion, the clients and the various architects – it all came together in Palm Springs in an explosion of creativity, productivity and unique style. which spanned decades and is now celebrated as Desert Modernism. Scenius it most certainly was.

—Brad Dunning, Curator, Palm Springs Art Museum

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