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True To Form

For a little-known house in Palm Springs, Marmol Radziner forgoes a textbook restoration in favor of a thoughtful update to the midcentury-modern gem

Stephen Drucker

Was there ever an odder movie star than Laurence Harvey? In unsettling films like Butterfield 8 and The Manchurian Candidate, he was the definition of the smooth, handsome devil, that strange light behind his eyes making clear that in real life, too, he was trouble: never without a cigarette and drink, bellicose, sexually all over the map, and doing his best to die young. He made it to 45.

Harvey lived only four years to enjoy this house, which he built in Palm Springs, California, in 1969. The wild man liked his 1963 Beverly Hills house so much that he commissioned the same architecture firm—venerable Southern California modernists Buff & Hensman—to create this oasis of tranquillity in the desert. After nearly 50 years it has passed the truest test of architecture: It looks even better today than when it was built, after a fine-tuning by architects Marmol Radziner and in the care of Rea Laccone and Paul Perla, the couple who have found their own bliss here.

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November 2017