Palm Springs Modern Committee, also known as PS ModCom, is an organization dedicated to midcentury preservation that has successfully created educational tools to benefit local youth. This group of passionate individuals from all walks of life come together with a common goal: to preserve the original authenticity of Desert Modern architecture and design and honor the forward-thinking architects who created this world-famous oasis.
PS ModCom is also a philanthropic group of people whose Robert Imber Scholarship Fund provides grants of $2,500 per year for four years to four local students who have demonstrated a commitment to architecture, design and preservation. To apply, students must write a letter outlining their passions, their dreams and their future aspirations to the board of the philanthropic committee, who then choose the recipients.
The scholarships have been renamed for PS ModCom founding member Robert Imber, who served as chairman of the education committee and initiated the organization’s Annual Preservation Awards as well as a high school scholarship program and the curriculum for St. Theresa Catholic School’s Modernism Projects. Imber died in April 2021.
Back when land was plentiful and not at a premium, many of the homes in Palm Springs were built on spacious large lots, and many boasted astounding views of the mystical San Jacinto Mountains. This is certainly true of the home of PS ModCom’s past president Chris Menrad, who graciously opened his home June 9 for the presentation of the scholarship awards. His spectacularly redone Alexander home still has many of the qualities of its birth so many years ago and is a fine example of preservation and pride of ownership.
Each of the four recipients, who were chosen from the hundreds of students who applied, addressed the crowd who listed intently and in awe of this new generation as they spoke about their future plans, dreams and where they hoped to attend college.
Eliza Moto of Rancho Mirage High School plans to attend college in San Luis Obispo to study mechanical and robotic engineering. Amy Ramirez from Cathedral City High School will study graphic design at COD and UC Irvine. Jacob Baskin of Palm Springs High School will attend Berkeley to study sustainable architecture. And Ephraim Patterson, also from Palm Springs High School, is going to California Baptist University in Riverside to major in architecture.
For more information about Palm Springs Modern Committee or to make a donation, visit psmodcom.org.
Carole Stephen-Smith has lived in the desert for more than 30 years. Born in Edinburgh, Scotland, she began writing in London and has been a regular contributor to The Desert Sun for eight years.