Architect Ray Kappe’s Work Debuts in the California Desert

Recognized as one of Southern California’s greatest modern architects, Ray Kappe creates the environmentally sensitive, modern Desert Palisades House in Palm Springs. The design Kappe came up with is a master class in how an architect can adapt his approach to a new environment and current tastes without abandoning his principles.

Developer Ed Freeman envisioned a community of architectural gems on his 112-acre parcel of land in the foothills of the San Jacinto Mountains overlooking Palm Springs in Southern California. The houses would nestle in the natural environment amid large, rounded boulders on an alluvial fan, which formed from water that has flowed from the mountains for millennia. Freeman wanted his first speculative house in the development to not only be beautifully connected to the land but also to be true to the tradition of midcentury homes that form the architectural identity of Palm Springs.

He thought renowned architect Ray Kappe would be a perfect choice to design the spec house, which was finished in March 2021. This turned out to be one of the last projects Kappe designed; he passed away just before the home was finished. The house made its public debut soon after completion, opening for tours recently at this year’s Palm Springs Modernism Week, a festival of modern architecture held annually since 2006. It’s a fitting conclusion to Kappe’s career, combining the best elements of midcentury style with today’s focus on environmental stewardship.

See the modern architect’s newly built design, showcased at Palm Springs Modernism Week, that honors its site and views

The terracing continues on the exterior, with the hot tub and pool stepped down from the home and interior spaces. Photo by Colin Flavin
The entry walk first heads perpendicular to the entry and then turns toward the front door, crossing the dry creek bed on a sleek concrete plank bridge.Photo by Colin Flavin
A view of the house from the ravine. Photo by Colin Flavin