Constructed from 1957-1958 at a cost of $280,000 on land purchased from Palm Springs pioneer Pearl McManus, the J.W. Robinson Department Store Building was designed by the Los Angeles-based architectural firm of Charles Luckman Associates and William L. Pereira. Located on the southwest corner of South Palm Canyon Drive and West Baristo Avenue, the pavilion-style modernist building is dramatically elevated from the street level by four long horizontal concrete steps that create both a sense of arrival and impart a sense importance to the building. The building (currently The Alley) won the AIA’s “First Honor Award” for 1958.
On January 16, 2013 the Palm Springs city council voted unanimously (5-0) to designate the J.W. Robinson Department Store building (Luckman & Pereira, 1958) a Class 1 Historic Site. While the council noted the owner’s opposition to the historic designation, the council ultimately determined that the designation was just “too important” to the citizens of the city. The pro bono nomination, written by PSPF board member Ron Marshall, was lauded by council as well-researched and convincing. Making compelling public comment in support of the nomination were PSPF board members Patrick McGrew and Erik Rosenow, and PSModCom president Chris Menrad.
On November 13, 2012 the city’s Historic Site Preservation Board voted 4-1 to recommend the Class 1 historic site nomination of the J.W. Robinson Department Store Building to the city council. PSPF board member Gary Johns made compelling public comment in support of the nomination.
On July 10, 2012 the Historic Site Preservation Board voted (4-1) to “initiate” the Class 1 Historic Site designation of the J.W. Robinson Department Store Building under the provisions of Chapter 8.05 of the Palm Springs Municipal Code.
At the June 12, 2012 meeting of the city’s Historic Site Preservation Board (HSPB), PSPF board member Ron Marshall provided members of the HSPB with copies of the historic site nomination of the J.W. Robinson Department Store Building (Luckman & Pereira, 1958) and asked that it be considered at the next HSPB meeting.
In 2012, as part of an initiative to energize the city’s historic resources program, PSPF board members committed to authoring Class 1 Historic Site nominations for various important residential and commercial buildings throughout Palm Springs and the Coachella Valley.