Friday, April 30, 2010

Howard Lapham

Well, I got myself side-tracked, what with Wexler Weekend in January and Modernism Week in February, and a couple of lectures on Bill Cody and Hugh Kaptur, and preparing a National Register Nomination on the O’Donnell Residence...but it took running into a couple of friends who actually noticed that I hadn’t been posting on my Palm Springs Architecture Blog to shame me into getting back to it, so....

Turns out, these friends live the total “Palm Springs Lifestyle” in a charming Mid-century hotel designed by Howard Lapham. Together, the inhabitants of the Desert Star Hotel (now condos) have created a life that many would envy. When they’re in residence, its like being on holiday...every day! How cool is that?

Happily, they had begun to research Lapham, and I was able to fill in a few of the blanks about his career. His Wikipedia listing offers the following: In 1954 at age 40, Howard Lapham arrived in the Coachella Valley from Stamford Connecticut. Although he was a registered designer, Lapham intended on becoming a builder in his new desert home. Within a year, however, he was designing residences for wealthy and influential members of the Thunderbird Country Club along the Club’s fairways and up the slopes of what became known as Thunderbird Heights. A number of Lapham’s buildings appeared in "Architectural Digest", including the Hyatt von Dehn Residence (1960, Thunderbird Heights), the Kiewit Residence (1960, Thunderbird Country Club), the Clarke Swanson Residence (1961, Thunderbird Country Club), the Morrow Residence (1961, Silver Spur Ranch, Palm Desert), and the 1961 remodel of the Thunderbird Country Club clubhouse. He remodeled the famous Chi Chi nightclub in 1959, giving it an ultra-modern new fa├žade. Lapham also designed Lord Fletcher’s English Pub in 1966 on what became known as ‘restaurant row’ on Highway 111 in Rancho Mirage. One of Lapham’s largest residential projects was the Mayan-themed Cook House, known as Ichpa Mayapan, built atop Thunderbird Heights in 1970. Lapham also drew the initial plans for the Eisenhower Medical Center, although Edward D. Stone obtained the commission. Lapham officially retired in the 1980s, although he continued to maintain an office in Palm Springs until his death at age 92 in 2008. Illustrated here is the recently restored Rackstrom-Reid Building on North Palm Canyon Drive. I’ll try and track down images of more Lapham buildings soon.....

1 comment:

  1. Oh Patrick! What a wonderful addition you are to our Palm Springs circle! Debra Hovel