Yesterdays post was about James Haefner and his superb photography skills, capturing mid century modern homes. Today we look at a mid century dream house captured by James as well. The Camino Norte house by Architect William F. Cody is literally and figuratively what pops into our thoughts when mentioning MCM architecture. While reading about Cody I learned that he was a major “player” in developing Palm Springs. Libraries, hotels, country clubs, condos and houses were just a few of the structures Cody was commissioned to design. Much thanks to James for letting us see this amazing home through his eyes.
“William F. Cody FAIA (1916-1978) was born in Dayton, Ohio and raised in Los Angeles. While attending architecture school at the University of Southern California in the late 1930s and early 1940s, Cody was also working for architect Cliff May, gaining experience in the adaptation of ranch and hacienda style houses to modern floor plans and construction techniques. Suffering from asthma, and believing that the Palm Springs area offered opportunity and prominent clients, Cody moved to Palm Springs in 1944-45 and set up practice. One of his first projects, the Del Marcos Hotel of 1946, won an AIA “creditable mention” award as an example of new resort hotel architecture for its “ingenious plan, which appears complicated but is actually orderly and thoughtful.” Author and critic Alan Hess writes, “Greater thinness and more striking elegance became the single-minded focus of his ongoing design.” Despite a reputation for carousing, Cody was exceptionally focused on the details of his designs and pushing the boundaries of his materials. His well-known and innovative early buildings, along with friendships with influential members of the Thunderbird, Tamarisk, and Eldorado Country Clubs, resulted in commissions to design the clubhouses of all three locations. In addition, Cody designed a large number of residences in the country club areas, many along the fairways of the new resort concept of golf course living, a concept that Cody himself helped devise. Author Adele Cygelman writes, “Joints and door frames seemingly disappeared into walls. He merged living rooms into terraces and gardens. Roofs jutted out twelve feet to shield the walls of glass. Pattern and texture came from tile floors, carved wood panels, and concrete-block screens with geometric motifs, all of which were meticulously designed by Cody to match each other precisely at the seams and angles where the planes met.” Like other Coachella Valley architects, Cody designed churches, gas stations, motels, restaurants, offices, a mobile home park, shopping centers, even a carwash. “Yet a distinct character can be seen in all of them,” says Hess. “It is a restless energy that brings a liveliness to his plans, elevations and details. The radical thinness of Cody roofs or the daring reach of a cantilever are clearly the result of a wrestling match between the architect and the materials and the laws of physics; that energy and striving remains in the building.” Hess concludes, “The fact that Cody could take an established vocabulary and style and reinterpret it so vividly ranks him among the best of mid-century California designers.” SOURCE