Amid the constellation of golf courses, country clubs, and shopping centers of Palm Desert, California, is a modestly sized home with a less-than-modest street presence. The Wave House, a 900-square-foot home originally built by architect Walter S. White in 1954 for artist Miles C. Bates, is one of the rare midcentury modern homes that effectively captures the era’s penchant for surfing culture with a semi-open floor plan beneath a single, uninterrupted wave-like roof.
After trading hands several times following Bates’ sale of the home in 1962, the Wave House was eventually purchased by the City of Palm Desert’s Redevelopment Agency in 2008 and was auctioned off ten years later during Modernism Week, an advocacy and educational festival based in Palm Springs. Members of Los Angeles-based firm Stayner Architects won the auction with a top bid of $360,000 with plans of a thorough restoration of the home.
Two years later, the home made its debut during Modernism Week 2020 following its recent approval to be added to the National Register of Historic Places. “We are so pleased to give the Wave House back to the public,” Stayner Architects founder Christian Stayner said in a press statement. “For us, historic preservation is not about ‘turning back the clock.’ Preservation is a way to honor the original design as well as the life the house has seen throughout its 64 years. It’s about allowing the house to exist across multiple time periods rather than making it an archive of the past. The Wave House is not so much a time capsule as it is a timeless space.”