Airstreams, Modern Homes Draw Fans to Palm Springs

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trailer home in Palm Springs, Calif.When introduced, the aerodynamic, Atomic Age Airstream trailer was the ultimate mobile expression of mid-century modern design. Now these classic trailers are not only "collectibles" but they're in vogue as hip, mobile homes -- or even re-purposed as guest rooms or offices parked at home.

"That type of lifestyle has become desirable once again by people who want travel alternatives that are simpler and less expensive, yet tap into their creative ideas about vacationing," says Christy Eugenis, proud owner of a 1966 Aristocrat trailer and Palm Springs' Orbit In Hotel. Eugenis is also a board member of the Palm Springs Modernism committee, through which she's organized a must-see showcase of Airstreams at the Ace Hotel -- a new event during Palm Springs Modernism week which launches today and runs through Feb. 21.The 10 day event demonstrates the continuing popularity and appreciation for everything mid-century -- Palm Springs' dominant architectural style. Modernism Week features home tours, lectures, parties and the opening the John Lautner exhibit at the Palm Springs Art Museum. The Ace Hotel, set in a revamped and updated roadside motel complete with Googie-style coffee shop, will host the Airstreams, with a tour set for Saturday, Feb. 20.

Palm Springs is a mecca of residential real estate by famed modern architects including E. Stewart Williams, John Lautner, William Cody, Albert Frey, Richard Neutra, R.M. Schindler, Donald Wexler and William Krisel. Among the events during Modernism Week are double-decker bus tours of modernist highlights, an Albert Frey home tour and a celebrity home tour that includes the recently listed William Holden Estate (left).

With an asking price of $1,995,000, the three-bedroom, 4,400-square-foot lot sits on an acre in Deepwell Estates. The home is attributed to architect John Porter Clarke and its glass wall, post-and-beam construction take full advantage of the desert light.

As real estate agent Paul Kaplan explains, mid-century continues to be in demand, "Compared to the height of 2005/06 that priced people out of the market for second homes, mid-century properties are now at a much more affordable level." However, pricier examples of modernist homes, like the iconic, Neutra-designed Kaufmann house, often linger on the market.

These days, properties that were selling in the $700K range four years ago are now well under $500K. Kaplan points to a butterfly-roofed Willian Krisel house with pool that's furnished at $465,000. Buyers from all over the country flock to Palm Springs for second homes, says Kaplan, "especially those who have passion for architecture."
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