America's Midcentury Masterpiece, Revised and Expanded Edition


The definitive story of the most ambitious and most glamorous midcentury modern house ever built in the United States: Sunnylands, the estate of Walter and Leonore Annenberg, in Rancho Mirage, California, now revised and expanded


ISBN: 9780865654198 Category:

Janice Lyle


In Palm Springs, the mecca of midcentury modern architecture, Sunnylands is considered the undisputed masterpiece. With its pastel green and yellow interior, giddy pink roof, dazzling collection of Impressionist paintings, and long, low sofas that look like vintage Cadillac convertibles, the estate was a Versailles for the Space Age. Envisioned by A. Quincy Jones, one of California’s most important architects, and possessing the only completely preserved interior by California’s great decorator to the stars, William Haines, there is no other house like it anywhere.

Sunnylands was built by media moguls, art collectors, and diplomats Walter and Leonore Annenberg, and it became a seat of power where politicians, movie stars, and corporate leaders could meet, relax, reflect, make deals, and run the world-all with nobody watching. For four decades, an invitation to New Year’s Eve at Sunnylands was the ultimate social prize. Exquisitely illustrated, Sunnylands is a must have for every fan of midcentury design. To mark the 10th anniversary of the opening of Sunnylands to the public, this revised edition adds 32 pages of new photography and text to what has become the definitive book on the house. It covers dramatic changes in the 15 acres of contemplative gardens by Jim Burnett, which are now mature; a new LEEDS Platinum building by o2 Architecture of Palm Springs, with 17 acres of striking net zero water use landscaping by CMG of San Francisco and art installations by Lita Albuquerque and Ghada Amer or the world renowned Desert X;l and events ranging from Day of the Dead celebrations to an exhibition of large scale sculpture by musician Herb Alpert.

Additional information

Weight 2236 g
Dimensions 26.4 x 31.3 cm
Publisher name The Vendome Press
Publication date 13 July 2023
Number of pages 288
Format Hardback
Contributors Foreword by Michael S. Smith, Photographs by Mark Davidson
Dimensions 26.4 x 31.3 cm
Weight 2236 g


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Janice Lyle, the Director of Sunnylands Center & Gardens, has been at the estate since 2008, when Leonore Annenberg was still alive. She has deeper knowledge of the house and its contents, and more access to the Annenbergs regarding Sunnylands, than any other nonfamily member. Lyle has lectured extensively on modern architecture and lived in one of Palm Springs' most famous midcentury houses, Frey House II. Her connections and contacts in the Palm Springs region are extensive: She was the Executive Director of the Palm Springs Art Museum for thirteen years, as well as the president of the California Association of Museums, and has served on many nonprofit boards, including United Way of the Desert.

Michael S. Smith is an American interior designer based in Santa Monica. He is responsible for the 2010 makeover of the Oval Office and furnished the private living quarters for President and Mrs. Obama. Michael Smith designed the interiors of the Sunnylands Visitors Center, emulating the aesthetic of the historic house, and the concepts of its original designers, William Hayes and Ted Graber. Michael Smith is a frequent visitor to the Palm Springs area, where he maintains a historic house in Rancho Mirage. Interiors photographer Mark Davidson is a Southern Californian native who is based in Palm Springs. He has shot assignments for Smithsonian, the Getty Museum, and The Hammer Museum.