4 months ago



BEADLE RESURRECTION Al Beadle New Build in Palm Springs // By Effie Bouras 34 JAVA MAGAZINE

Very many years ago, while visiting the Three Fountains condominiums in Phoenix, I had my first somatic experience with what is referred to as “desert modernism.” Having lived in Las Vegas prior, my exposure to this architectural typology had been brief, as I was largely preoccupied by “architecture as roadside attraction,” as art critic Dave Hickey once decreed, verities of sign as architectural form, oozing through the bogus sunset. I will be frank, though; I did not realize it was an Al Beadle at first. But aside from my transient obliviousness, Three Fountains represented much of what I imagined an authentic architectural form arising from the desert sands of the Southwest to be. To my gaze, this stark building of muted coloring was entirely composed of lines and shadows, cut with such an exact precision that nothing looked real, and it was perfect. The desert is often represented by a harsh angularity of surface, mirrored by the landscape it contains with all of its seemingly stark simplicity. However, this representation is quite basic, as it conceals the incredible complexity that lies beneath. While some architects during Beadle’s time were preoccupied with reconfiguring the desert into a form reminiscent of other geographic zones, Beadle was engrossed with developing an authentic architecture that responded to a true “sense of place,” complementing the desert’s natural beauty, rather than suppressing it. Through his skillful nature, what is seen as severe and angular is maintained but refined by a responsive architectural program. Light is captured, controlled and reflected, crafting and framing the building in both its absence and presence. The native landscape is retained and serves to augment the architectural premise. Beadle’s honesty is reflected through his perfection of building as craft, endearing his influence and legacy over time, as proved from the fervent following he has gathered, even long after his pencil last touched the drawing board. THE PALM SPRINGS EFFECT Growing up in Palm Springs, builder Mike Yakovich never dismissed the value of the area’s unique treasure trove of mid-century modern architecture. Appealing to his sensibilities, it because the focus of his diligent crusade, as did, specifically, Beadle’s work. So when the opportune moment came, and armed with an arsenal of construction experience within the genre (including work with Don Wexler on his last steel project), Yakovich, in collaboration with Beadle’s widow, Nancy, and his associate Ned Sawyer, conspired to once again bring Beadle’s pencil strokes to life. Knowing that resurrecting the much-loved rectilinear idiom that Beadle perfected could prove potentially disastrous, when architect Lance O’Donnell was first approached for help by the team, his answer was an unequivocal no. With a long history of mid-century restorations and remodels for names such as Wexler, Cody and Frey, O’Donnell is quite familiar with the era and, in fact, an aficionado. O’Donnell’s reluctance eventually gave way to acceptance, upon realizing that his initial philosophical aversion to recreating the work of an icon—one whom he deeply appreciated for paving the pathway of future modernists—was matched by Yakovich’s genuinely deep affection for architecture. Because of this, O’Donnell felt compelled to sit under the proverbial sword of Damocles and fully commit himself to bringing the unbuilt Beadle to Palm Springs. He relays how important it was to have Ned Sawyer’s direction and Yakovich’s commitment: “We had architect Ned Sawyer, Al’s associate, to guide us along the way. This proved invaluable to moving the process forward with confidence. This project would not have been built if it were not for Yakovich’s steadfastness or love for that home. He had a vision, and through his own sheer will helped us all walk a path to realization,” says O’Donnell. JAVA 35 MAGAZINE

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