kaptur plaza

Kaptur Plaza Reaps Preservation Accolade

The California Preservation Foundation will present its Preservation Design Award for Restoration to Palm Springs architect Hugh Kaptur.

Staff Report Current Digital, Modernism

kaptur plaza
Kaptur Plaza, originally called Tahquitz Plaza when it was built in the 1970s, honors the building's original architect, Hugh Kaptur.

Kaptur Plaza in Palm Springs will be presented with a prestigious Preservation Design Award for Restoration at the 36th Annual California Preservation Awards on Oct. 18 at the InterContinental Mark Hopkins Hotel in San Francisco. The jury selected 21 winners this year, from the meticulous restoration of a single home, to reports that will guide the infill and development of entire neighborhoods.

The California Preservation Awards showcase the best in historic preservation, recognizing significant achievements in architecture, history, design, and engineering. Award recipients are selected by a jury of top professionals in the fields of architecture, engineering, planning, and history, as well as renowned architecture critics and journalists. In making their decision about Kaptur Plaza, the jury stated: “This exemplifies a distinct moment in architectural time, and does a lot with natural cooling. The community rallied to save it, and it’s great that people in Palm Springs are really putting their money where their mouth is, preserving their heritage.”

The complex (32,000 square foot office space), designed in the early 1970’s, consists of four buildings which are paired into two groups. Originally named Tahquitz Plaza, it has since been renamed to Kaptur Plaza after the building's architect, Palm Springs resident Hugh Kaptur, who is renowned for his work in the Coachella Valley. The buildings were neglected, vacated, and slated for demolition by the owners, an Orange County development company. A new design for condominiums was presented to the city’s Architectural Advisory Committee, and was denied for several reasons, including the pedigree of existing architecture.

See related story: Hugh Kaptur to be Honored at Modernism Week Fall Preview, Oct. 17-20.

A lively debate between preservationists and developers ensued, and Kaptur was vocal about preserving the buildings. After months of public meetings, the developer agreed to rehabilitate the existing buildings. They hired a local architect with historic preservation expertise to design and produce construction documents for the project, and collaborate with Kaptur.

The buildings received local recognition and awards when constructed in the 1970s for its unique architectural design. The architecture mimics adjacent mountain profiles and is organic in form. Elements of desert modern style are expressed structurally via the glulam beams and exposed posts. Deep eves, striking eyebrow windows, and projecting fins are modern elements for solar shading, along with the brise soleil within the breezeways.

kapturplazainterior hughkapturarchitect

Hugh Kaptur's desert style showed a preference for thick walls, deeply inset windows, wide overhangs, and the ability to capture prevailing breezes.


Kaptur has been practicing architecture in Palm Springs for several decades. In 2014, his contributions to the Coachella Valley’s built environment were recognized by the Modernism Week organization with a star on the Palm Springs Walk of Stars, prominently placed in front of the Palm Springs Art Museum Architecture and Design Center. Among Kaptur’s significant works are the Steve McQueen residence (1964) and William Holden residence (1977) in the prestigious community of Southridge, Palm Springs.

Also to be honored by the California Preservation Foundation are these 2019 Preservation Design Award winners:

A.V. Walberg Residence & Adjoining Properties
Los Angeles | Contextual Infill Category
Two homes were rehabilitated with four new dwellings sensitively added to a three parcel lot in Northeast L.A. The project tailors new housing density to fit seamlessly within the context of an existing Historic Preservation Zone demonstrating how much-needed housing can be added to historic districts while preserving historic fabric.

Academy Museum of Motion Pictures
Los Angeles | Craftsmanship Category
A novel stabilization, repair and restoration was undertaken of the 1939 stone cladding, gold-glass mosaic and steel box framed windows of the Streamline Moderne Saban Building facades (formerly May Co., department store) at the new Academy Museum of Motion Pictures, Los Angeles.

Neptune Pool Repair
San Simeon | Craftsmanship Category
At Hearst's Neptune Pool, cracking of the concrete substrate and the mortar resulted in leaking water. New marble tile and specialty marble pieces from the original quarries, installed over a membrane, duplicate the beauty of the original iconic pool.

Santa Barbara Courthouse Mural Room Conservation
Santa Barbara | Craftsmanship Category
After more than 80-years of age and no significant effort to conserve the murals, a complete conservation project was undertaken by the Courthouse Legacy Foundation, resulting in the renewal of the entire Mural Room; including murals, furniture, woodwork and textiles.

City of Riverside Latino Historic Context Statement
Riverside | Cultural Resource Studies Category
The Riverside Latino Historic Context Statement provides a panoramic look at over a century of history of Riverside's Latino community. This groundbreaking study will allow the City to identify the people, places, and resources significant to the Latino community.

Eames House Conservation Management Plan
Pacific Palisades | Cultural Resource Studies Category
The Eames House Conservation Management Plan is a management tool to direct the care of this iconic work of modern architecture. It is a model for the conservation of other buildings and is available at no charge on the Web.

Pier 70
San Francisco | Cultural Resource Studies Category
The 35-acre Pier 70 mixed-use redevelopment is located within the 66-acre Union Iron Works Historic District in San Francisco. The Design for Development documents a vision that protects the integrity of the historic district and ensures a compatible new legacy.

Preserving Eichler Neighborhoods
Palo Alto & Orange | Cultural Resource Studies Category
With extensive community input, design guidelines were developed for Eichler homes in two cities: Palo Alto and Orange. The two documents were tailored to the different needs of each city and illustrate the range of approaches for preserving these iconic Mid-Century Modern neighborhoods.

UC San Diego Campus-Wide Historic Context Statement and Historic Resource Survey
La Jolla | Cultural Resource Studies Category
Between 2015 and 2018, the project team led a pioneering, multi-year endeavor to comprehensively identify, evaluate, and document all eligible historic and cultural resources on the campus of the University of California, San Diego.

Chinese Workers and the Railroad Travelling Exhibit
Palo Alto | Interpretive Exhibits Category
Travelling exhibit describing the role of Chinese workers in the building of the Transcontinental Railroad and photographic comparisons of landscapes in the 1860s and as they appear today with a major focus on California history and sites.

St. John's Lutheran Church Roof Restoration Project
Sacramento | Reconstruction Category
The project, consistent with the July 2018 City of Sacramento Record of Decision (for preservation site plan and design review) included the removal of the roof substrate and of all existing asbestos shingle roof cladding and replacement of the cladding with a diamond-patterned copper roof tile system that reinstate's the church's original circa 1912 roof cladding material and design

Beverly Gardens Park Rehabilitation
Beverly Hills | Rehabilitation Category
Beverly Gardens Park, a 113-year-old designated historic landmark, is a 1.9-mile long linear park providing 23 blocks of open space. The multi-million dollar, multi-year partnership accomplished comprehensive restoration and rehabilitation of the park while retaining the landmark’s original vision and character-defining features.

Cooper Molera Adobe
Monterey | Rehabilitation Category
The Cooper-Molera Adobe project renews a 2.4-acre historic site with a collection of buildings from c.1827 - 1902. Through rehabilitation, adaptive reuse and sensitive infill construction, the project balances compelling historic interpretation and educational programs with appropriate and complementary commercial uses.

Spruce Goose
Los Angeles | Rehabilitation Category
The adaptive reuse of the historic Spruce Goose hangar into an exceptional new workplace encompassed extensive rehabilitation and preservation of original elements. Four levels of new architecture and custom art installations acknowledging the building's rich history completed the transformation.

Leo Carrillo Ranch Historic Park Stable Rehabilitation Project
Carlsbad | Rehabilitation Category
The project successfully adapted the utilitarian stable to a more code-restrictive public occupancy. Structural, life safety, accessibility, and systems upgrades were seamlessly integrated with the existing structure. A new restroom building and the reestablishment of site features complements the project.

San Francisco Art Institute at Fort Mason Center for Arts & Culture
San Francisco | Rehabilitation Category
Located on San Francisco Bay, the historic Fort Mason Pier 2 warehouse has been transformed into a new campus for San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). This adaptive reuse preserves the industrial integrity of the landmark and supports the school's mission.

Ackerman Heritage House
Napa | Restoration Category
An 1889 Queen Anne house designed by the county’s preeminent architect, but which had been inadequately maintained for decades, was given a five-year total restoration that upgraded the house structurally and functionally while maintaining its Victorian appearance inside and out.

Fawcett House
Los Banos | Restoration Category
Original plans, photographs, and numerous consultants were employed to ensure accuracy in the restoration of a 1955 Frank Lloyd Wright home. Preserving much of the original structure, structural stabilization, demolition of alterations, and new systems were incorporated, returning this home to its original grandeur.

Judge Johnson and Sarah Horrell House and the Hayman Cottage
Napa | Restoration Category
The Judge Johnson and Sarah Horrell House, circa 1856, was damaged in the 2014 South Napa Earthquake as well as neglected for decades. This project was a mission to restore the dignity to this Gothic Revival home and the 1907 Hayman cottage located in the rear of the property.

Napa County Courthouse
Napa | Restoration Category
The 1878 Napa County Courthouse, designed by Samuel and Joseph Newsom, was severely damaged in the 2014 South Napa Earthquake. Reopened in January 2019, after almost five years, the courthouse is once again the center of Justice in Napa County.

For more information, visit californiapreservation.org.