Hugh Kaptur is essentially considered the last living “Starchitect” (star·chi·tect) of the Palm Springs-based modernism movement which began in the post-war 1940’s and then faded during the 1970’s. Slowly reemerging in the 1990’s, and now a major world-wide movement, modernism is largely synonymous with the alluring vibe of Palm Springs.
1931 Detroit, Hugh’s birthplace, was the world’s preeminent manufacturing and technical apex for decades to come. As an adult Kaptur attended technical school, then, during the Korean war, enlisted in the US Marines which led him to San Clemente California where he met his future wife Rosemary.
Drawn back to Detroit in the 1950’s by his father at General Motors, Hugh honed his creative and technical skills in numerous General Motors design facilities, consider at the time, the pinnacle of automotive innovation. In 1956 Hugh relocated to Palm Springs where Rosemary’s mother lived at the time – and the rest is history.
After “cutting his teeth” at Wexler & Harrison, Hugh quickly established his own firm in 1957. In 1958, his debut venture was the Triangle Inn, formerly the Impala Lodge; a few others followed shortly thereafter, and he actively worked in Palm Springs through 2002.
Tahquitz Canyon Way, the main route that runs from central Palm Springs to the Palm Springs International Airport, boasts numerous Kaptur-designed structures such as: The Palm Springs Unified School District headquarters, the Paul & Kay Selzer home, as well as the newly restored Kaptur Plaza with anchor tenant, “Koffi,” the valley’s largest independent specialty coffee roaster and retailer.
While other architects such as Frey, Cody, Krisel, Williams and Wexler stood-out during the height of Palm Springs’ mid-century building boom, Kaptur’s creative skills and unique vision resulted in the striking post-and-beam style seen in the Steve McQueen home built in 1968 as well as William Holden’s sky-high home overlooking most of the valley below.
In 2013, during retirement from residential and commercial design, Hugh was approached by a team consisting of a Canadian investor, local builder, and a REALTOR®. His popular residential home design with signature “butterfly roof” and strong architectural lines (circa 1958) was to be re-imagined into a larger, current-day series of homes in the Little Tuscany section of Palm Springs.
The three-home enclave, “Kaptur Court,” was completed in mid-2016 and is considered Hugh’s most recent example of mid-century modern design coupled with superior quality, technology and amenity.