Palm Springs style will guide Desert Fashion Plaza redo

Part 1.  Reprinted from the Desert Sun, June 12, 2012.

PALM SPRINGS — Award-winning architects from Arizona have convinced city leaders and a prominent local developer they can bring magnificent change to downtown Palm Springs.

Now they have to convince residents they’re the right firm for the job.

Allen + Philp Architects/Interiors of Scottsdale, Ariz., has been chosen to set the tone of the lofty Desert Fashion Plaza revitalization project spearheaded by mall developer John Wessman.

“John has got some great vision and he wants to do some legacy things that we think are very exciting,” said Kenneth Allen, president of Allen + Philp Architects/ Interiors. “This project can be quite the turning point for Palm Springs.”

The firm will design the first two blocks of the project, which includes the site of the demolished Bank of America building where “Forever Marilyn” currently stands and the massive, decaying part of the Desert Fashion Plaza that once housed Saks Fifth Avenue.

Construction is scheduled to begin in the fall of 2013 with completion of the project expected by the end of 2014.

Allen describes the firm’s style as “more about specific opportunity and location.”

“We don’t have a particular look. Some of our stuff can look very edgy and contemporary, but we’ve also done projects with Asian influences and Moroccan styles,” Allen said.

The key, Allen said, is that they “don’t come into it with a preconceived idea.”

While the firm is not ready to make public their sketches for a reimagined Desert Fashion Plaza, Allen emphasized that the design will respect the community and its unique characteristics.

Allen said the project “may touch on midcentury components that Palm Springs is known for,” a style they echoed when they renovated the Hotel Valley Ho in Arizona.

“What is fact is that there is a large ugly mall in downtown and we’re not going to replace it with another large ugly mall,” Allen said. “We want each block to have its own character, and each building within the blocks to have its own character.”

Allen also emphasized that the firm isn’t going it alone.

They have met with Wessman Development officials weekly to discuss designs.

“We’re all working hard on a design concept that I like to call ‘design within reach,’” said Wessman, president of Wessman Development. “We want to build a project that looks amazing but one we can afford so that we can fill it with great tenants and complete it.”

See Part 2 of this article in our next installment.

Best regards,

John Pivinski
Vision Marketing of Palm Springs

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