Written by on July 27, 2016

Cody Architecture Collection Featured in New Exhibit at A+D Museum in L.A.

Special Collections and Archives is delighted to announce the opening of the exhibition Fast Forward: The Architecture of William F. Cody, on display at the A+D Architecture and Design Museum in Downtown Los Angeles. This celebration of Cody’s legacy is long overdue, and draws chiefly from the William F. Cody Papers that reside on the 4th floor of the library.

CodyBanner.jpgThe opening reception on July 10 was bustling with mid-century modern architecture enthusiasts, educators, and friends and family of William F. Cody, who would have celebrated his 100th birthday this year. We raised a glass to his contributions, and to the vital partnerships that formed between exhibit curators, Cal Poly architecture faculty and students, and Special Collections— relationships with roots dating back to Cody’s long-time friendship with former Cal Poly Dean of Architecture, George Hasslein.


The exhibition traces Cody’s life and career, and features an array of watercolors, sketches, plans, photographs, and other documents that showcase how he enhanced the built environment in such desert towns as Palm Springs, Rancho Mirage, Palm Desert, and La Quinta. In addition to designing distinctive residences, churches, and commercial buildings, Cody made a mark designing elegant country clubs and hotels with commanding views of landscapes full of contrast: pools and lush fairways adjacent to cactus and arid mountains.

Corrected-Spa Hotel 007_3_c_FF169_02_01

Perspective drawing of the Spa Hotel with Cody’s signature bubble lettering (Special Collections and Archives, California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. William F. Cody Papers. MS007).

An element that makes the Fast Forward exhibit distinctive is the inclusion of work by Cal Poly architecture students. In the fall of 2015, students consulted original archival records in Special Collections to find inspiration for new work that ranged from hand-made furniture, light fixtures, collages, and even a digital font inspired by Cody’s early lettering. Special Collections’ own Katie Sheetz (BArch ’16) made an interactive, mobile-friendly digital map that serves as a handy introduction to some of Cody’s award-winning architecture in the Coachella Valley.


Using new materials and tools, Cal Poly students reinterpret Cody designs that befit the desert lifestyle. Cocktail cart (left) by Sam Aisawa and Katherine Garber, and pendant lamps (right) by Cordelia Sam, Alexis Spicer, and Sarah Wulff.


In the foreground, a model by Cal Poly students Jorge Neve Alvarez and Tim Pernice compares the roof designs of Cody’s Shamel Residence (a hybrid of steel and wood) to Charles and Ray Eames’ Eames House (steel).

The exhibit runs through September 25, but the Cody collection is always available for research and class instruction sessions—just contact us!

Read more on Architecture Archives and special collections and university archives.

2 comments on “Cody Architecture Collection Featured in New Exhibit at A+D Museum in L.A.
  1. Anonymous says:

    It’s lovely, Jessica! I forwarded it to many people.

    I hope all is going well with you!

    Ricardo and I are at a Math Ed. convention in Hamburg. We are 9 hours ahead of you and tomorrow, Jo and I have a 9 a.m. (your time) phone date. I can’t wait to get more news! Apparently, there is an article on the exhibit in new issue of Palm Springs Life magazine. We’ll be back in Manchester Sunday night.

    un enorne abrazo

  2. Jo Lauria says:

    Many thanks for posting this. Really enjoyed your “introduction” to the FAST FORWARD exhibition and hope others are encouraged to visit the exhibit if/when in Los Angeles. All this would not have been possible without the help, encouragement, and ENTHUSIASM of the Kennedy Library, Special Collections–you gave us easy access to archival materials and made our research enjoyable.

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