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Desert House

Rancho Mirage, California

Desert House

Rancho Mirage, California

  • Design Principal

    Jim Olson

Palm Springs was developed as a winter resort and a showcase of modernism through the 1950s, but after the advent of air conditioning, it was transformed into a twenty-mile sprawl of generic suburban developments. The Desert House recaptures the freshness of the first settlement. It is located on a ridge above an arroyo in a community that preserves the natural beauty of rocks and mountains and gives each plot a sense of privacy.

Natural materials—concrete, stone, stucco, and wood—blend with the earth tones of the surroundings. Broad overhangs provide shade yet allow the winter sun to warm the house, and the mass of the construction moderates the extremes of temperature. Two offset colonnades outside the living areas augment the interiors and provide architectural frames for art, and a cylindrical breakfast room with glass doors plays against the rectilinear facade. A central circulation spine, topped by a clerestory that diffuses natural light, extends from the entry to a garden plaza and reflecting pool. Generous public and more intimate private rooms open from this concourse, and the soft tones of walls and furnishings blend house and desert. Interior design by Terry Hunziker.

The movement of wind across water brings architecture to life and reflects the changing environment. Jim Olson, FAIA

Team

Publications

2019

Chislett, Helen. “Rill Seekers.” Financial Times How To Spend It. 30 Apr. 2019, 36-40 Print.

Chislett, Helen. “Sweet contemplation: rills and reflecting pools return to gardens.” Financial Times How To Spend It. 30 Apr. 2019. Web.

2011

Schmid, Lydia. “Beton Liebt Grandezza.” ELLE Decoration, Feb. 2011, 6, 116-123. Print.

2006

Beaver, Robyn. A Pocketful of Houses. Victoria: Images Publishing, 2006, 32-35, 104-107. Book.

Boschetti, Joseph. Water Spaces Vol. 4: A Pictorial Review. Victoria: Images Publishing, July 2006, 20, 104-105, 110-111, 134. Book.

2004

Harel, Hadar. “Modernism in the Desert.” Home Design & Life Style (hDL), Dec. 2004, 90-108, 192-196. Print.

2003

Beaver, Robyn. Another 100 of the World’s Best Houses. Victoria: Images Publishing, 2003, 72-73, 246-249. Book.

Trulove, James Grayson, and Il Kim. The New American House 4: Innovations in Residential Design and Construction. New York: Watson-Guptill, June 2003, 142-155, 214-223. Book.

2002

“Bold, Brilliant, Bravo: The Residences at Millennium.” Alaska Airlines Magazine, March 2002, 2. Print.

Russell, June-Ann. “Desert bloom.” Trends-Outdoor Living Vol. 18 No. 10, 2002, 20-25. Print.

Russell, June-Ann. “A place in the sun.” Trends Vol. 18 No. 4, 2002, 34-41. Print.

2001

“Bold: The Residence at Millennium.” Alaska Airlines Magazine, Dec. 2001, 12. Print.