Julius Shulman Photographic Archive, Research Library, The Getty Research Institute
The 1947 Palm Springs Tennis Club additions seen in these black and white Julius Shulman photographs were a joint design project of Paul R. Williams and A. Quincy Jones. Their vision transformed the existing Amalfi monastery-style inspired club with its traditional tennis courts, swimming pool and dining room into a complex that organically fit with the desert environment.
From 1939 to 1940, Jones had worked as an architect in Williams’ firm, but by the time of the club redesign, the younger architect had opened his own firm (1945). The men now collaborated as equals on a number of major commercial and government buildings and large residential projects across America. The innovative Jones and gentlemanly Williams made an affective team and their midcentury joint ventures helped "define the domestic environment for the postwar American family."(Cory Buckner. A. Quincy Jones, 2002)
Pearl McCallum McNamus, the owner of the Tennis Club, is known in Palm Springs history as the person responsible for bringing Modernism to the area as early as 1923. The Williams’ and Jones’ 1940s version of California Modernism incorporated in the Tennis Club was a more sophisticated version, emphasizing solid volume, the natural wood and stone of the surrounding environment, and unpainted brick and wrap-around glass tying the outdoors to the indoors (images 23, 24).
Socialite McManus and her husband Austin entertained scores of international and celebrity guests. The Tennis Club originally started with courts for the use of her many English visitors. (Greg Niemann. Palm Springs Legends, 2006) Williams' and Jones' initial plans for the makeover of the club were expected to cost McManus $60,000. By the time construction was completed in 1947, the costs were well over $250,000. Besides expanding and renovating the kitchen, swimming and tennis areas, the plans grew to include a new main dining room, the Bougainvillea Room, a snack bar, cocktail lounge with a terrace for outdoor dining, and a lawn terrace for lounging and sun bathing.
Williams and Jones faced many challenges in completing the project, including falling rock, the varying climate and extreme temperature, as well as the need to incorporate and preserve the desert views. In a 1947 article in Southwest Builder and Contractor, the architects reported that the environment “became a continuous testing laboratory for building materials and equipment… Because of its plasticity and durability concrete was selected as a major material. Natural stone found at the site provided the opportunity for a fresh handling of an ancient material as well as a medium for tying the structure into its natural setting.”
Whether it was a new type of air conditioning system to combat the heat from expansive glass openings or to reduce the noise in the rooms, the two architects worked together to develop innovative and aesthetically pleasing solutions. Incorporating the old structure with the new as well as successfully combining interior function with exterior environment, the Palm Springs Tennis Club is often cited by architectural historians as an “interesting and successful example of contemporary architectural concepts at their best.”