Desert House

Location Rancho Mirage, California
Design Principal Jim Olson

A two-hour drive from Los Angeles, Palm Springs was first developed as a winter resort and a showcase of modernism through the 1950s, but after the advent of air conditioning, it was transformed into a twenty-mile sprawl of generic suburban developments. The Desert House recaptures the freshness of the first settlement. It is located on a ridge above an arroyo in a community that preserves the natural beauty of rocks and mountains and gives each plot a sense of privacy.

Natural materials—concrete, stone, stucco, and wood—blend with the earth tones of the surroundings. Broad overhangs provide shade yet allow the winter sun to warm the house, and the mass of the construction moderates the extremes of temperature. Two offset colonnades outside the living areas augment the interiors and provide architectural frames for art, and a cylindrical breakfast room with glass doors plays against the rectilinear facade. A central circulation spine, topped by a clerestory that diffuses natural light, extends from the entry to a garden plaza and reflecting pool. Generous public and more intimate private rooms open from this concourse, and the soft tones of walls and furnishings blend house and desert. Interior design is by Terry Hunziker.

The movement of wind across water brings architecture alive and reflects the changing environment.

Jim Olson Design Principal



Design Principal

Jim Olson

Project Architect

Kevin M. Kudo-King



Schmid, Lydia. “Beton Liebt Grandezza.” ELLE Decoration, Feb. 2011, 6, 116-123. Print.


Beaver, Robyn. A Pocketful of Houses. Victoria: Images Publishing, 2006, 32-35, 104-107. Book.

Boschetti, Joseph. Water Spaces Vol. 4: A Pictorial Review. Victoria: Images Publishing, July 2006, 20, 104-105, 110-111, 134. Book.


Harel, Hadar. “Modernism in the Desert.” Home Design & Life Style (hDL), Dec. 2004, 90-108, 192-196. Print.


Beaver, Robyn. Another 100 of the World’s Best Houses. Victoria: Images Publishing, 2003, 72-73, 246-249. Book.

Trulove, James Grayson, and Il Kim. The New American House 4: Innovations in Residential Design and Construction. New York: Watson-Guptill, June 2003, 142-155, 214-223. Book.


“Bold, Brilliant, Bravo: The Residences at Millennium.” Alaska Airlines Magazine, March 2002, 2. Print.

Russell, June-Ann. “Desert bloom.” Trends-Outdoor Living Vol. 18 No. 10, 2002, 20-25. Print.

Russell, June-Ann. “A place in the sun.” Trends Vol. 18 No. 4, 2002, 34-41. Print.


“Bold: The Residence at Millennium.” Alaska Airlines Magazine, Dec. 2001, 12. Print.

Loading Next Up...
Next up... Modern Antebellum House
Clear all filters










Show Filters
Projects Media

Filter archive by
projects or media

Edit Done

Your clippings

Mail link Copied Could not copy Clear Clippings Save
Save your clippings to share or retrieve them later
View Fullscreen
View, edit and share your clippings here
Could not load page. The content may have been removed, or there may be a problem with your connection. Close

You are using an out-dated browser

Please update your browser. We recommend Google Chrome