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William F. Cody (1916-1973)

William_F._CodyBorn: Dayton, Ohio
Education: University of Southern California, 1942
Best known for: Simplified but dynamic architecture, particularly at desert hotels and country clubs. It began with his renovation of the hacienda cottages of the legendary Desert Inn in 1945. Soon after, he picked up an A.I.A. award for the Del Marcos Hotel, his first independent commission in Palm Springs. Cody’s sophisticated conversion of Thunderbird Dude Ranch to Thunderbird Country Club led to commissions for clubhouses valley-wide, including Tamarisk, Eldorado, Seven Lakes, and seven others.

One of the most dynamic architects working among the desert modernists, William Cody shaped a distinctive career that experienced its own evolution outside the modern realm. During college, Cody worked for architect Cliff May (“father of the California ranch home”) before embarking on an architectural journey that transcended any one specific style.

From early projects working in colonial and hacienda styles to his 1947 Del Marcos Hotel with its almost Googie-esque, Frank Lloyd Wright-inspired architecture to the L’Horizon hotel a few years later, all low-slung bungalows, it was never Cody’s mission to blend in. Later dubbed a “modern sophisticate,” he pushed midcentury norms. His beams were skinner, his rooflines were thinner, each dipping lower than the next. In the 1970s, he returned full-circle to his roots, fusing traditional Spanish hacienda with modern principles as seen at Tamarisk Country Club and private residences.

Gregarious yet polished, Cody earned the respect of his wide social network that trusted his intuition and admired his experimentation. When Cody envisioned drama, he had the technical skills to execute it.

One of his last projects was St. Theresa’s Catholic Church where he had been a parishioner. Though it wears the austere look of an elegant concrete pagoda, the church incorporates modernist elements including post-and-beam construction and clerestory windows. Cody always had a knack for melding styles and shunning the expected.

Other Notable Properties:

  • Del Marcos Hotel, 1947
  • L’Horizon Hotel, 1952
  • Spa Bath House and Spa Hotel
  • Abernathy Residence, 1962
  • St. Theresa’s Catholic Church, 1968
  • Palm Springs Public Library, 1975
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