Mid-Century Modern, Palm Springs

The Mid-Century Modern (MCM) is more a fashion than a single style, as are the Classive “Federal” and the Progressive “Brutal” individual, architectural styles.  To its advantage, the MCM exhibits qualities beyond style, qualities that might partake of this Progressive, or that Classive style, and assemble the whole in some nonce form, alike Palm Springs Modern, or Capital Modern, the former of the desert, the later of the woods.  There is, of course, the MCM of Florida, with its machinist, Deco qualities; the MCM of the Mid-West, with its prairie, Wrightian qualities; the MCM of the East Coast megalopolis with its urban, corporate qualities.  Each MCM variation Americanizes the imported, modernist European styles, making each Mid-Century Modern variation attractive, friendly to families, serviceable to automotive transportation and gadget innovation.

In Precedent

The 1925, Paris World Exposition, Internationale des Arts Décoratifs et Industriels Modernes.
The 1932, New York Museum of Modern Art’s “Modern Architecture: International Exhibition”.
The 1939 New York World’s Fair, “The World of Tomorrow” with its Norman Bel Geddes (General Motors) “Futurama” exhibit, a scale model of an American city with skyscrapers, superhighways, and landing pads.
In 1946, Sunset magazine advertised Western Ranch Houses, “The ability to move in and out of your house freely … makes living in it pleasant and informal.

The American, Mid-Century Modern is inspired by the Rancho and cabins of the plains, dear to American identity, adaptable to an increasingly mobile, middle-class life. The old ranch is made young again with easy indoor-outdoor living, sliding glass-doors, patios and grills, convenient kitchens, and the freedom of an open floor plan.

Mid-Century Modern, Characteristics

Proportions
Typically one story when in the desert, split or two level in the suburbs.  Mostly asymmetrical, rectangular and horizontal.
Roof Features
A flat or low-pitched roof, often with a cantilevered overhang.
Fenestration
Often, floor to ceiling glass in the public rooms, horizontal glass in the private rooms.
Structure and Materials
Of block in the desert and city, of wood in the suburb.  Construction is often modular, especially in “metal” houses.  Glass walls in post and beam construction.  Materials are often contrasted, as in the juxtaposition of bond and board directions.  Substantial chimneys of stone or brick; if not a chimney, a commanding wall.  The whole usually at rest upon a concrete pad.
Space and Floor Plan
An “open plan”; the kitchen, dining, and living rooms often a continuous space; bedroom groups separated from the living rooms.  Carports are typical, though garages are common.  Basements and attics are rare, except in the ranch variations.
Entrance
Often formal in front, and glass paneled; a private entrance to utility rooms from the carport or garage; sheet or sliding-glass doors opening to pool or landscape.
Ornamentation
Ornament is stripped, minimalized or avoided.
Color
In the desert, predominately white, punctuated with bold, primary colors; in the woods, earthy browns and greens; in the West and Mid-West, natural tones; in the East Coast, machine colors are common.
Surroundings
In sympathy with nature, often intimately integrated with the landscape.

*for a detailed history, see “Your House: Style and Period, Mid-Century Modern“.

 

Mid-Century Modern, the “Palm Springs, plan.

 

Mid-Century Modern, Palm Springs Features

This Mid-Century Modern home is suitable to desert or woods, Palm Springs or New Canaan, easy, comfortable, affordable.  And private: this home, formal in front, opens in to itself and its gardens.  The glass sheet-walls synthesize outdoor with indoor, wedding the built to the natural, happily.  Separate zones decrease energy use, and the whole can readily be net-zero.  Here, the wall between man and nature is glass-thin, a glass that can be slid aside to allow the outside, in.  The master bedroom looks to the pool, opens to a generous bath with an indoor-outdoor shower.  There is a garage with work-table, and a mud-room.  The public room welcomes kitchen, dining, living in a single, family friendly room.  The dogtrot between structures is designed for ease of grilling and serving.  The twin structure might have two bedrooms, a bedroom and office, or the whole might be given over to an in-law suite, or rental.  The ceilings are high, the expense in furnishings is low, the construction cost is simply, affordable, easy for first-time buyers and retiaries.

The Beautiful Home, Plan #55

Mid-Century Modern, the “Palm Springs”; plan and elevation.

Full House
12’-0”                           Height
66’-3””                          Width
60’-0”                          Depth  

Resident House
12’-0”                           Height
33’-3”                           Width
60’-0”                           Depth

 Guest House
12’-0”                           Height
17’-6”                           Width
35’-0”                           Depth

1,497               Total    Int. Square Feet
961’                 Resident
536’                 Guest

3                                  Bedrooms
3                                  Bathrooms 

Concrete and Stucco

Room Size

Common Room          16’-0” x 33’-6”
(Kitchen in Com-Rm    16’-0” x 10’-0”)
Master Bedroom         13’-6” x 19’-0”  (incl walk-in)
Walk-in Closet             4’-8” x 6’-8”
Master Bath                 13’-0” x 6’-8”
Bedroom 2                  16’-0” x 12’-0” (cl. 11’-0” x 2’-8”)
Bedroom 3 / Office    16’-0” x 10’-0”
Bathroom 2                 11’-0” x 6’-0”
Guest House Hall        5’-2” x 10’-10”
Bathroom / Laundry   4’-8” x 7’-6”
Mud Room                  8’-0” x 7’-6”
Garage                         13’-0” x 23”-6”

Exterior
Dog-Trot Room           17’-6” x 34’-3”
Dipping Pool               23’-0” x 12’-0”

Notes
potential separate public entrance for home office
tech closet included

 

Mid-Century Modern with a color palette suitable to woods or prairie.

 

Features

energy efficient design
open floor plan
economical to build
main floor bed & bath
main floor laundry
integrated pool
outdoor shower
outdoor room
wheelchair adaptable
separate HVAC zones

Miscellaneous

Exterior Wall Construction     SIP or CFR
Roof Framing                          beam and truss
Roof Pitch                               flat
Ceiling Main                           9’-6”

 

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Commission Houseplan

 

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