Kaufmann Desert House, Palm Springs

Kaufmann Desert House, Palm Springs

Owning the world's most famous house in the world – the Fallingwater – was not enough for department store magnate Edgar J. Kaufmann: he needed a winter residence and he needed it in Palm Springs. In 1946 he chose Richard Neutra – revered in his time as a pillar of American Modernism – to build a luxurious Desert House that would also function as an "efficient machine". The result was, arguably, Neutra's most famous design. Soon after its completion in 1949 for what was the then-astronomical sum of $300,000, its sleek forms and mechanical imagery became an emblem of high Modernist style in the US.

The 5-bedroom, 6-bathroom vacation house was designed to provide a seamless connection to the surrounding desert landscape while at the same time offering shelter from harsh climatic conditions. Large sliding glass walls bring the desert practically indoors, while the major outdoor rooms are enclosed by a row of movable vertical fins that offer flexible protection against sandstorms and intense heat. After Kaufmann died in 1955, the house had a series of owners, including singer Barry Manilow.

Today, many critics place the Kaufmann House among the most important houses of the 20th century in the United States, with the likes of Fallingwater, Robie House, Gropius House, and the Gamble House. Despite its location in Palm Springs, it was also included in an expert-reviewed list of all-time top 10 houses in Los Angeles.

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Kaufmann Desert House on Map

Sight Name: Kaufmann Desert House
Sight Location: Palm Springs, USA (See walking tours in Palm Springs)
Sight Type: Attraction/Landmark
Guide(s) Containing This Sight:

Walking Tours in Palm Springs, California

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