Day 143/365 of Steel – William F. Cody

William F. Cody (19 juni 1916 – 29 augustus 1978): Modernism meets the desert.

Palm Springs Spa and Hotel, Palm Springs
Fig 1: Palm Springs Spa and Hotel, Palm Springs
Photos: Julius Shuman via A+D, Los Angeles

William F. Cody, FAIA, was born in 1916 in Dayton, Ohio and studied architecture at USC where, as a student, he worked for Cliff May. Following graduation in 1942, Cody moved to Palm Springs in 1946.

Spa Bath House
Fig 2: Spa Bath House
Photo: Julius Shuman via A+D, Los Angeles

As one of the architects of the Spa Bath House (along with Wexler & Harrison and Phillip Koenig), and the adjacent Spa Hotel, Cody is also noted for a number of spectacular contemporary residential commissions including the Perlberg (1952), Shamel (1961) and Abernathy (1962) Residences.

J.B. Shamel residence, 1963
Fig 3: J.B. Shamel residence, 1963
Photo: Julius Shulman, via A+D Museum, LA.

He preferred his buildings to engage nature, defying criticism about the industrial, impersonal qualities of modernism. The Shamel Residence, for example, incorporated nature in many ways. At the entry, a shallow pool extended from outside to inside, connecting the exterior to a spacious atrium open to the sky. Inside, planters and small rectangular gardens dotted the plan. From the living room at the back of the house, residents would have looked out over a garden and the pool to the green of the golf course and to the mountains beyond.

Huddle's Springs Restaurant
Fig 4: Huddle’s Springs Restaurant (1957, now demolished)

Cody used steel frequently and creatively, and the Shamel Residence was recognized with the American Institute of Steel Construction’s Architectural Award of Excellence in 1965.

The Rubinstein Residence
Fig 5: The Rubinstein Residence
Photo: Patrick Ketchum

Cody’s relationship with nature was intertwined with his pursuit of transparency and lightness — qualities fundamental to the modernist reaction against historical masonry structures. Cody died in 1978 leaving behind a legacy of important contributions to what is known today as Desert Modernism.

About the Author:

Bruno Dursin – Managing Director at Believe in Steel. Bruno has more than 30 years of experience in promoting steel & steel solutions. His clients benefit from his extensive network within the building industry.

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