Architecture News

The Walker Guest House Travels to Palm Springs

The replica is on loan to the nonprofit Palm Springs Modern Committee through March 2020.

By Ilene Denton July 23, 2018

The Walker Guest House when it stood on the grounds of the Ringling Museum.

The full-scale replica of Paul Rudolph’s famed Walker Guest House created by the Sarasota Architectural Foundation, which stood on the grounds of the Ringling Museum from late 2015 to mid-2017, has found a temporary new home in Palm Springs, California.

It will be on loan to the Palm Springs Modern Committee for public display through March 2020.  Palm Springs is a mecca for midcentury modern architecture and PS ModCom, as it’s known, is a founder of the hugely popular annual Palm Springs Modernism Week held each February. (Last year, 126,000 architecture fans attended.) The Walker Guest House will arrive and be reconstructed in time for a new mini-spinoff of Modernism Week in October.

The original guest house—an ingenious 24-foot-square pavilion with walls made of wooden flaps that raised and lowered via pulleys—was designed and built on a patch of beach on Sanibel Island by Rudolph in 1952 and 1953. His clients were Dr. Walter Walker and his wife of Minneapolis (whose family donated the money to create one of the nation’s most acclaimed contemporary art museums, the Walker Art Center).

Some 60 volunteer docents led more than 57,000 people through the replica at the Ringling Museum, many of whom made special trips to Sarasota for the experience. Then in May 2017, it was dismantled, crated and sent to a storage facility in Palmetto. Sarasota Architectural Foundation president Christopher Wilson says SAF has been working for several months to find it a new temporary home.

Bradenton architect Joe King built the replica on behalf of SAF, and he explained the complicated process in the October 2015 issue of Sarasota Magazine.

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