Chicago-based architect Jeanne Gang will be the keynote speaker for Modernism Week 2022, the 11-day celebration of midcentury modern architecture and design in and around Palm Springs, California. Gang is the first woman to be a keynote speaker at the event.
Other featured subjects to watch for: MAD Architects; Black modernists; golf course modernism; tastemaker Vera Neumann; the artist known as Shag; Alfred Hitchcock’s “architectural infatuations,” and, for those open to other-worldly inspiration, lessons from the creator of The Twilight Zone.
After mounting a hybrid program of both in-person and virtual tours and talks in response to the COVID-19 pandemic last year, Modernism Week is back to a full slate of in-person activities for 2022. This year the festival will run from February 17 through 27.
Organizers said they offered a hybrid program last year, before COVID vaccinations were available because they didn’t want to cancel altogether but also wanted to keep participants as safe as possible. The event lacked a keynote speaker or any large gatherings in 2021. Now the gatherings are back, along with the lavish cocktail parties for which the event is known.
“We are thrilled to be able to present Modernism Week in February with all of the fanfare and celebration typically associated with our events,” said Modernism Week executive director Lisa Vossler Smith, in a statement. “We have exciting new tours and events planned and of course we will be bringing back traditional favorites.”
Now in its 17th year, Modernism Week bills itself as “the largest celebration of midcentury and modern architecture, design and culture.” It’s known for giving participants a chance to tour architecturally significant homes, commercial buildings and communities that are rarely open to the public, while escaping from winter weather elsewhere in the country.
“One of the most popular things that Modernism Week offers our participants is the ability to tour stunning midcentury modern spaces that are normally not accessible to the general public,” Vossler Smith said.
Popular stops on previous tours have included buildings designed by A. Quincy Jones, Richard Neutra, John Lautner, Albert Frey, Donald Wexler, and many others, plus restorations of midcentury classics. Previous keynote speakers have included Moshe Safdie in 2019 and Daniel Libeskind in 2020. Next year’s festival will feature more than 350 events highlighting modern architecture, art, interior design, landscape design, restaurants, and “vintage culture” in Palm Springs.
The event is also continuing with its efforts to explore midcentury modernism beyond Palm Springs with a side excursion to Los Angeles and programs focusing on modernism in Florida (“Fabulous Florida in the ’50s,” with design expert Charles Phoenix), America’s desert southwest (“Mojave Modern, Sonoran Style,” with Alan Hess); New England; Monterey Bay in California, and Havana, Cuba.
In Los Angeles, Modernism Week is featuring two Neutra-related tours: one of Neutra’s 1932 home, and “Neutra’s Neighborhood,” a tour of six works by Neutra in the Silver Lake section of Los Angeles, considered the most concentrated collection of his buildings in the world.
A complete list of offerings is available at Modernismweek.com. Here are a few of the tours new for 2022:
- Casa Tierra: Interior designer, TV host, and author Bobby Berk will open his latest project, an “idyllic desert modern escape,” in Palm Desert, with more than 5,000 square feet of living space and colors and textures that reflect the desert landscape. It will be completed in early 2022 and opened to the public for the first time during Modernism Week;
- Limon: A seven-bedroom, 1964 structure by architect Marshall Roath, restored for the 21st century by H3K Home+Design;
- Shadow Mountain: A docent-led walk of Palm Desert’s Shadow Mountain area, featuring homes by Frey, William Krisel, and others, ending with refreshments at Shadow Mountain Resort;
- Calypso Palms: A boutique community from the 1960s;
- Magnesia Falls Cove: A self-guided tour of homes dating from the 1940s to the 1960s in Magnesia Falls Cove, where Rancho Mirage began;
- Indian Wells: A tour of six private country clubs;
- The Crank-Garland House, an Indian Wells landmark designed by William F. Cody. Known as “The Lost Cody” it was designed for developer Filmore Crank and actress Beverly Garland in the early 1960s and fully restored, and;
- Golf tournament: For the first time, Modernism Week will feature a golf tournament. It will be held on the second weekend of the festival at the Seven Lakes Golf and Country Club, an 18-hole course lined with homes designed by Richard Harrison and set against the backdrop of Mount San Jacinto. After playing, players and guests will enjoy hors d’oeuvres and a martini bar at Seven Lakes’ Cody-designed clubhouse. A pre-party will be held the day before at Tahquitz Creek Golf Resort, in a clubhouse designed by Hugh Kaptur.
Guest speakers typically draw big crowds at Modernism Week and 2022 will bring an eclectic mix, including:
- Jeanne Gang: Besides being a MacArthur “genius grant” recipient, Gang is the lead architect behind the tallest building ever designed by a woman, the 101-story St. Regis Chicago tower, formerly known as the Wanda Vista Tower. Her architecture and urban design practice, Studio Gang, founded in Chicago in 1997, now has offices in New York, San Francisco, and Paris and projects around the world. In addition to her keynote address, entitled Making Architecture, Gang will sign books and attend a reception in the Elrod Sculpture Garden of the Palm Springs Art Museum.
- Dixon Lu:Founded in Beijing by Ma Yansong in 2004, MAD Architects is a global firm exploring a type of ‘dream architecture’ that opens a dialogue with nature. It strives to be not only an architecture firm but “a driver for human wellbeing and reconnection to nature.” Lu, head of operations for MAD’s Beijing office and the principal overseeing MAD’s Los Angeles office and overall strategy in North and South America, will discuss MAD’s projects across the world and how its philosophy of “Shanshui City” influences its approach to design.
- Susan Seid: Designer Vera Neumann (1907-1993), has been called the most successful female entrepreneur of her time and creator of the first true lifestyle brand. Susan Seid, owner of the Vera Neumann Art Collection and author of Vera: The Art and Life of an Icon, will discuss Neumann’s impact on the design world and have a conversation with fashion designer and Palm Springs resident Trina Turk.
- Anne Serling: Anne Serling, a daughter of The Twilight Zone creator Rod Serling, talks about her father’s life and the lessons she learned from him in “As I Knew Him: My Dad, Rod Serling.”
- Shag: A chance to meet graphic artist Josh Agle, better known as Shag, and hear how he developed his distinctive style, which is closely associated with Palm Springs and midcentury modernism.
- Alfred Hitchcock: The director won’t be there in person of course, but his use of buildings as characters in movies such as Psycho and The Birds will be the subject of “Love and Buildings: Alfred Hitchcock’s Architectural Infatuations.”
In recognition of Black History Month, Modernism Week will honor architectural trailblazers with a three-part symposium entitled “Stories Untold: Black Modernists in Southern California,” highlighting black designers, builders and developers who helped shape Palm Springs and Southern California.
In Part one, “Black History of Palm Springs,” panel participants Tyrone Beason, reporter for The Los Angeles Times, and Jarvis Crawford and Dieter Crawford, leaders of Palm Springs Black History Committee, will share stories about historic Palm Springs landmarks.
In Part two, “Circle of Paul R. Williams,” Gail Kennard, the daughter of architect Robert Kennard, will discuss the role Paul Revere Williams played in inspiring other Black designers, including her father and James Garrott, Ralph Vaughn, and Arthur Silver, to launch careers in Los Angeles.
In Part three, “Destination Crenshaw,” Drake Dillard of Perkins&Will will present a proposed 1.3-mile open air art gallery and park that will run alongside the light rail line in Los Angeles’ Crenshaw District.
Modernism Week is also known for “audience favorite” events that return year after year because they’re so popular. The Premier Double Decker Architectural Bus Tours, including a Twilight Architectural Bus Tour, will return, as will the Palm Springs Modernism Show & Sale on the first weekend; the Vintage Travel Trailer Show on the second weekend; tours of the historic Annenberg Estate at Sunnylands, and tours of homes in the Coachella Valley, including residences formerly owned by William Holden, Kirk Douglas, and Magda Gabor.
Also, a classic car show; tours of Frey House II; Palm Springs Historical Society walking tours; tours of the John Lautner Compound; landscape talks and garden tours; biking tours; nightly entertainment by PS Underground; fashion-related events including a Studio 54 Fashion Show, and tours of the historic Temple Isaiah.