Friday, May 7, 2010
Max Palevsky Residence
According to the LA Times, "computer technology pioneer and venture capitalist Max Palevsky, perhaps best-known for funding then-startup chipmaker Intel Corp., has died. He was 85. Palevsky died of heart failure Wednesday at his Beverly Hills home. The early high-tech pioneer became famous for having transformed mainframe computer builder Scientific Data Systems into an industry powerhouse that he sold to Xerox for $1 billion in 1969. The billionaire financier and philanthropist then became a founder and director of chipmaker Intel. He left the corporate world in the 1970s. Over the years, Palevsky helped finance then-fledgling Rolling Stone magazine, bankrolled movies, became a political activist and built a world-renowned art collection that transformed the Los Angeles County Museum of Art."
His interest in art extended beyond paintings and sculpture to include architecture. He commissioned Craig Ellwood (1922-1992), often referred to as “California’s Mies van der Rohe,” to design Scientific Data Corporation’s headquarters. Ellwood, who was born Jon Nelson Burke, was the definitive Hollywood-style building designer who was largely responsible for the modern image of architecture as a glamour profession. In addition to Palevsky’s corporate projects, in 1969-69 Ellwood also designed Palevsky’s Palm Springs home on West Cielo Drive on what was then described as “the best site in Palm Springs.” The house was based on desert houses in Casablanca that were white-walled compounds with structures set within rectangular walls, and it is beautifully integrated into its boulder-strewn site. Its minimalist aesthetic makes it one of the town’s most enigmatic structures. I had always wanted to nominate the property as a Class 1 Historic Site, and was told that Palevsky was supportive of the potential designation. With his support, the nomination would have sailed through the process. I hope Max rests easy; his was a great gift to the architectural history of Palm Springs. I do wonder what will happen to the house now that Max is gone...