The Essential Palm Springs Tour with Kurt Cyr

Architectural and Interior Tours in Palm Springs with Kurt Cyr

Palm Springs is described as the mecca of modern architecture with a large number of works by All-Star Desert Modernist Architects like Albert Frey, William Cody, E. Stewart Williams, Hugh Kaptur, John Lautner, William Krisel, Donald Wexler and Herbert Burns.  Although the city is well known for its celebration of all things modern during “Modernism Week” (which takes place in October and February), you can take partake in your own private modernism tour any time of the year with the local architectural experts. 

I had some friends visiting from New York last week (they work at Gensler so trust me – they live and breathe architecture and design) and we signed up for Kurt Cyr’s tour.  We are a tough design crowd and suffice to say – we loved it. 


The first stop is a home in the Racqet Club Estates (yes, we did drive by The Monkey Tree Hotel – designed by Albert Frey – and waved to Gary).  I won’t give away too much, but here are some photos to whet your appetite.  Seeing this home, made me wish I lived in one of these Kaptur homes!  My favorite feature of the house…the kitchen and bathrooms – all with original pastel tiles – one pink, one yellow, and one mint green – just like candy!

blue house with a white cinder block wall in front of it.  a path in the sand leading up to a house.  palm trees on the lawn

a white sofa with colorful pillows.  in the distance a white dining table and white chairs and a dark oil painting of a manThe second stop was a beautiful desert bungalow in the Little Tuscany area.  It has some new elements like the corten steel gates which are really striking against the other original materials.  The owners restored the original small home and added on a beautiful addition.  Seeing the before photos in their kitchen was a real treat.  While you are there you can imagine how wonderful life must be to see the unobstructed mountain view and see the sun rise and set on the mountains every day.  The full expanse of glass from the living room through to the black bottom pool is magical.


a man in a pink shirt and shorts standing out side of a house with glass from top to bottoma swimming pool in the back yard of a house with mountains and trees in the distance.  a woman standing on the edge of the poolThe third stop was to the Desert Star – a 6 unit condo / Airbnb which was originally designed as an extended stay motel.  The owners have a modern retreat filled with wonderful art.  The pool has an amazing view of the mountains and is located centrally so that all 6 units can share this amenity.  Each unit differs slightly in design – all with more wonderful art and kitchenettes. This is a nice example of extended stay “motels” designed in the early 60’s for people who wanted to come out to the desert retreat, but not necessarily own a second home.

3 stools sitting at an orange kitchen counter.  art work on a hallway wall next to the kitchen4 people standing in a living room surrounding by art on all of the wallsHere is some information on the details of Kurt’s tours. 

Kurt currently offers two tours – both are 90 minutes

Tour One focuses on interiors (the cost is $125 and features 3 residential properties)

Tour Two focuses on exteriors (cost is $65 and features an overall look at the work of Desert Modernists). 

Kurt told us a third tour is in the works which will end with a Rat-Pack martini so stay tuned for more on that!  

Kurt’s tours meet at the Saguaro Hotel and Kurt can accommodate up to 5 guests in his (very comfortable with excellent AC) tour van.   Signing up for a tour is very user friendly on his website.

Two thumbs up from me on this tour.  Definitely take advantage of this when you are in Palm Springs.  Don’t worry it’s not a huge time commitment and there’s still plenty of time for poolside fun and sangria when you return (to The Monkey Tree Hotel)!

For more information on Kurt’s Tour and to book a tour:

For more information on Modernism Week:

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