Featured in Monacelli’s new book, “Master of the Midcentury: The Architecture of William F. Cody,” the 1963 Shamel Residence was emblematic of postwar Palm Springs.
The following is an excerpt from Master of the Midcentury: The Architecture of William F. Cody
by Catherine Cody, Jo Laurin, and Don Choi with a foreword by Wim De Wit, published by Monacelli
Like many homeowners in the Eldorado Country Club development, Jennings and Anna Shamel built their fairway home as a winter residence for relaxed living and recreation, notably golf.
On a lot bordered on three sides by the tenth and thirteenth fairways, Cody created multiple layers of space to guarantee privacy without sacrificing the clients’ desire for an open, informal interior. The slender structure of the house, composed of 4-inch-square steel columns on a 12-by-12-foot grid, was all but invisible, allowing Cody maximum flexibility in planning.
The screen-covered entry court at the core of the house served as a sheltered, semi-outdoor room and also provided access to the bedroom, living, and service zones. On the west side of the house, a portico offered protection from the afternoon sun while also creating a buffer between the fairway and the glass-walled living room. As mandated by Eldorado’s bylaws, no barriers were permitted between the house and the fairways—a stipulation that Cody had first introduced for the master plan at Thunderbird Country Club—which allowed exceptional views of the golf course and mountains. The roof appeared to float above the interior, supported by slender columns and extending outward to frame views and provide shade.
Throughout the house, Cody designed distinctive details, ranging from the direct-set glass of the kitchen windows to the entry lamp beside the front door. Interior materials such as teak, travertine, slate, and indigenous stone created rich textures and warm colors that contrasted with the steel columns and large areas of glass. The living room fireplace in particular showed off this strategic juxtaposition of materials: four panels of travertine hovered above the fireplace opening, while the rough stone wall in the background could be seen through the tempered glass that filled in the space between the steel columns and the fireplace.
The Shamel Residence was one of Cody’s most widely recognized residential projects, featured in the Los Angeles Times and Architecture/West, among other publications. It was also chosen as one of eleven winners of the 1965 American Institute of Steel Construction Architectural Awards of Excellence. The award jurors wrote, “its design reflects the infinite variety of life that takes places (sic) in a house of this kind. It is an unpretentious and straightforward solution to a beautiful location—simple, direct, straight to the point.” The Shamel Residence also garnered a 1964 Homes for Better Living award from the AIA. Unfortunately, the house has been razed and the lot remains empty.