Tropic JAN 2015 flip

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It can be argued that Southern California is where great Mod- ernist residential design in the U.S. really took off. Out East and in the Midwest, Modernism was a much harder sell. Yes, Philip Johnson built his infamous Glass House in New Canaan, but how many of his neighbors in Connecticut followed suit? In California, it seemed every architect worth his or her salt was trying to push boundaries while working with nature. Entire post-war neighborhoods, in fact, entire cities, were rising from the landscape around the sprawl of Los Angeles and beyond. And one place where the beacon of Modernism shone brightest was greater Palm Springs. Imagine growing up riding your bike past almost new neighbor- hoods brimming with inventive ranch-style homes by Palmer & Krisel or Donald Wexler... looking up into the hills to see space- age fantasies by John Lautner... or withdrawing some of your pass- book savings at a bank that looks like Le Corbusier, had he suddenly gone commercial. A new wave of designers did just that. This whole era of experimental Modernism might be seen as a hard act to follow for young architects surrounded by great works, but for others, like Lance O'Donnell of o2 Architecture, it's really all part of a continuum. O'Donnell, whose work has come into the spotlight recently, believes the desert in the 21st century is any- thing but barren when it comes to design. He believes architects today are working on the same sorts of things they were working on 60 years ago. Although the word "sustainability" looms large on today's word clouds, early iterations of its goals were in the heads of Donald Wexler and Richard Neutra as they worked on exceptional home designs, which promoted passive cooling and worked with the desert's intense climate. Great architects of both eras were - and are - interested in creating homes that reflect the essence of this amazing place. 55 T R O P I C M A G A Z I N E LIVING INSIDE OUT Lance O'Donnell of o2 Architecture creates a Palm Springs residence that tips its hat to the past and gives its owners everything they wanted... and then some. Text John T. O'Connor Photos Lance Gerber

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