the security first national bank

palm springs, california

Currently a Union Bank located at 500 South Indian Canyon Drive, in Palm Springs (originally Indian Avenue), this single-story commercial building designed by modernist master architect, Joseph Bing Wong, was completed in 1959. The Security First National Bank is an important example of a modernist structure, and it exhibits numerous character-defining features that place it within the historic context of the Palm Springs modern period. The location of the Security First National Bank is within a commercial district of Palm Springs and was originally part of the Financial District. Many other banks and financial institutions are located within this part of the downtown area of Palm Springs and are extant. The most undeniably unique features of the Security First National Bank are the extraordinary bas-relief panels that were commissioned by the bank during the design of the building. Renowned sculptor Lawrence Tenney Stevens produced exquisite art that is featured at the original main entrance of the bank. Two 8’x12’ panels are original art, remain intact in their original location, and are titled “Palm Springs in Sculpture.” The northwest corner of the site prominently displays them at the intersection of Indian Canyon Drive and Ramon Road.

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southridge house

palm springs, california

Southridge is one of the most exclusive and historic estates in Palm Springs. Development on the steep hill began in the early 1960s. Its spectacular site overlooking the Coachella Valley spurred designers like John Lautner to create the area’s most dramatic properties: the legendary Bob Hope and Arthur Elrod houses. William F. Cody and Hugh Kaptur also designed homes there and the community attracted stars like Steve McQueen and William Holden. This home, originally designed by the local team of Patten & Wild is one of the first homes to be built in Southridge. It is a simple California ranch style with a hip roof and concrete shingles. Original breeze-blocks still wrap around the lower level, where the architect has created her studio. The house has been gutted internally and the floor plan has been reworked, removing a clumsy lower-level addition that detracted from the home’s outlook, re-siting pool equipment, and returning the property to its minimal design. The house embraces the landscape, blurring the boundaries of interior and exterior, with the exterior being equally important. “The best design goes unnoticed…the eye carries beyond the house.” The home had interiors more suited to Beverly Hills than the desert, so beige marble was removed in favor of poured terrazzo. A previously secluded kitchen now opens to the tremendous views. Bathrooms feature original vintage tile and are updated with new fittings and Dornbracht hardware that matches the Crane originals. The neutral color palette throughout provides a soft backdrop for classic midcentury furniture by Eames, Saarinen and Mies van der Rohe. Outside the landscape has also been reworked and simplified with desert plantings.