Miesian Glam: The Cody House, by William Cody, Palm Springs. Built: 1964.
Over the holidays, I managed to line up a visit to a privately-owned mid-century house designed by Palm Springs architect William Cody. Lots of ink has been spilled on Modernism in Palm Springs, much of it focused on Richard Neutra’s Kaufmann house. But there’s plenty of other stuff to look at as well. Cody, for example, produced the Googie-riffic Springs restaurant, as well as the clubhouse at the Eldorado. And his structures perfectly embody the city’s Hollywood-at-the-country-club aesthetic. (When the Rat Pack wasn’t raising hell in Vegas, they were living it up in Palm Springs.)
The Cody House is one of his less-documented structures, but it just so happens to be the one I got to spend some quality time in. It is Mies van der Rohe with a dollop of ’60s flash. A simple, flat-roof structure contains an indoor fountain in the foyer, a richly-hued travertine wall in the living room and the ever-present turquoise of the pool. The interiors were originally done by local decorator Arthur Elrod, a designer with a flair for the dramatic. (Here‘s what his pad looked like.) Though the house does not have all of the original décor, the period pieces keep it sumptuous, as do the floor-to-ceiling windows, mirrored bar, deep shag rags and arena-sized bathrooms. This is the type of architecture that inspires making whoopee.
As with much mid-century design, this style of building fell out of favor in Palm Springs by the time the ’60s came to a close. For much of the ’70s and ’80s, the city was considered passé, both as a vacation and an architectural destination. But with a surge of interest in buildings with fins and space-age motels, the desert playground is back. And at the Cody house, Palm Springs’ singular brand of “Martini Modernism” is totally swingin’.
See the money shots after the jump.