Palm Springs Town and Country Center

UPDATE June 18: Change of Plans

It has been brought to our attention that the Town & Country Center (1948) in Palm Springs, CA is facing demolition in favor of development densification of several city blocks. A final City Council vote will be taken on June 15th, 2011. A number of organizations are fighting demolition including The Palm Springs Preservation Foundation and the Palm Springs Modern Committee.

Why should we care?
1. The building was designed by renowned Architects Paul R. Williams and his protégé Quincy Jones of Southern California.
2. The building is a great example of modern era open space planning.
3. It is a part of our cultural heritage.

Demolition excuses are the same as usual:
1. not important
2. not appropriate for new uses
3. not economically viable to renovate

A new development of great density is planned, one that appears to reinforce the status quo mentalities of the car and maximizing the square footage available in the zoning.

What could it become?
Preservationists are terrible negotiators, particularly when they’re loosing – which is precisely the time to negotiate. The Town & Country Center has great internal space that the new development can benefit from – if all parties are willing to craft a common goal. Preservationists can allow the development to build near, over, enclose, and alter portions of the building while still retaining its core architectural values and open space. The city government can relax some zoning criteria so the developer may regain lost square footage. What a great juxtaposition of modern space and new building the project could become.

Undoubtedly there are a slew of political and economic intricacies involved, but real collaboration toward a common goal requires the will of all people… people to care, people to speak up, and people willing to negotiate. There is always a way to reach a common goal if there is a will to do so. Our attitudes toward our cultural heritage must evolve or it will be lost one building at a time. Our developments must see cultural, political, and economic value in absorbing existing buildings. Our governments must be willing to work with trade-offs to ensure healthy development. These require thinking outside the box of our preconceived notions of “renovating” and “preserving.”

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