Hugh Kaptur Belongs Among Top Palm Springs Architects

From the Steve McQueen house to buildings along Tahquitz Canyon Way



Actor Steve McQueen's four-bedroom house (under construction in the photo below) was designed by Palm Springs architect Hugh M. Kaptur.

Palm Springs Life Archives/Courtesy of Modernism Week

 

The Coachella Valley’s built environment, monikered the “Mecca of Modernism”, is a treasure trove of midcentury modern works by some of the most talented and accomplished architects of the era.

Among them is Hugh Kaptur, the prolific Palm Springs architect who will be at the center of Modernism Week, Feb. 14-23, 2014.

Kaptur’s accomplishments are vast across the Greater Palm Springs area. But the greatest abundance of his buildings sit on Tahquitz Canyon Way in Palm Springs, which could just as easily be renamed Hugh Kaptur Way.

During Modernism Week, Kaptur will receive a star on Palm Canyon Drive’s Walk of Fame, a film on his wide-ranging career will premiere and home tours and related events will display his work.

The Palm Springs Modern Committee will install a month-long Hugh Kaptur exhibit at the Palm Springs Library, as well.

Kaptur’s name hasn’t been as generally known as widely as others in design buff circles, but his collaborations and contributions to desert modern architecture are as significant and profuse. His resume includes innovative tract homes and lavish county club custom estates to stylish and inventive hotels, successful commercial centers, neighborhood-friendly fire stations and golf course clubhouses.

Add the luxurious mountaintop homes of actors Steve McQueen (pictured right) and William Holden, and you get the picture.

An instrumental fixture in the region since the 1950s, Kaptur’s life and career began in Motor City, where he returned after military service to work in the General Motors Styling Division.

California lured him from Detroit, where since 1956 he has carved out a remarkable career and infused the Coachella Valley with some of its most distinctive buildings. On arrival in Palm Springs, Kaptur worked in the office of distinguished desert modernists Donald Wexler and Richard Harrison, later partnering with regional architects Richard Ricciardi, Lawrence Lapham, and James Cioffi.

As a local architectural researcher and ambassador, I’ve studied Kaptur’s work for more than a decade. On a personal note, it’s particularly gratifying to see this talented gentle giant receiving the well-deserved attention and accolades - the result of a focused and creative career serving his own community.

Palm Springs resident Robert Imber is executive director of “Desert Utopia”, the documentary on Palm Springs modernism, a board member of the Palm Springs Modern Committee, and a trustee of The California Preservation Foundation, the state’s largest and oldest preservation organization. Imber operates Palm Springs Modern Tours, offering twice daily tours of Palm Springs mid-century modern architecture (www.palmspringsmoderntours.com).

Add your comment:
Desert Guide

Related Articles

Watch Our Top 10 Palm Springs Hotel Videos

Watch our videos to discover what the hotel options are in the Greater Palm Springs area from well-known big names to small, boutique hotels.

The Palm Springs Hotel Continues Boutique Resurgence

The Palm Springs Hotel, set to open this fall, will bring an industrial take on midcentury modern design in North Palm Springs.

10 Things to Do in Greater Palm Springs This Weekend

Palm Springs Life helps plan out your weekend in Palm Springs and the desert resort cities with concerts, events, restaurants, nightlife, clubs and the world of entertainment only found in the desert.

Cool Jazz on a Hot Summer Day at Mission Hills Country Club

A hot summer day was the perfect time for more than 150 supporters of ACT for Multiple Sclerosis to gather at Mission Hills Country Club for cool jazz.

Ace Hotel & Swim Club Brings Positive Vibe to 'Summer School'

Summer school has never been a good reason to celebrate until the Ace Hotel & Swim Club fashionably borrowed the name for its upcoming art and music collaboration in Palm Springs.

Promotions + Contests

90 Days of Summer Romantic Palm Springs Getaway 2014

90 Days of Summer Romantic Palm Springs Getaway 2014

Experience the beauty, romance and excitement of the Palm Springs area when you enter to be the lucky winner of this romantic couple’s getaway
90 DAYS OF SUMMER Instagram Contest 2014

90 DAYS OF SUMMER Instagram Contest 2014

Win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!

Win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!

Each month, a first place winner will be selected to win a fabulous Palm Springs weekend!And, each month, three additional runners up will be selected to win a wonderful Palm Springs area Dining certificate!
2013/14 Best of the Best

2013/14 Best of the Best

Palm Springs Life’s annual Best of the Best. Readers tell us who their choice is for the “Best of the Best” of the Coachella Valley in over 40 categories.
Cartoon Caption Contest

Cartoon Caption Contest

Each month, we provide a vintage 1950’s cartoon illustrated by Alice Rovinsky. You are invited to submit a caption or vote for your favorite caption.
Pets on Parade 2014 Photo Contest

Pets on Parade 2014 Photo Contest

Enter your “Cutest Pet” photo in the Pets on Parade 2014 Photo Contest. Online users will be able to like the Cutest Pet photos from six (6) categories.