Miracle Manor Retreat
Desert Hot Springs, CA
Fifteen miles north of Palm Springs, in the foothills of the San Bernardino Mountains, is the town of Desert Hot Springs where Miracle Manor is located on Miracle Hill. The hill, named for the subterranean pockets of hot and cold aquifiers directly below it, was a resting spot for Indians migrating from the Morongo Valley to the northeast through the Coachella Valley over the San Jacinto range on their way to the Pacific Ocean.
The motel was built in 1948 using wood frame, stucco walls and aluminum windows. Three long rectangular buildings capped with shed roofs form a courtyard. Originally, the rooms were oriented inward to a garden with limited views to the desert. The restoration of the interior of the site, the buildings and rooms allows the desert to pass completely through the site and buildings, enhancing the experience of the landscape, inhabited space, and architecture. The architecture was restored to its original simplicity with a few additions to amplify the desert experience. At the front of the site are two treatment rooms — concrete block and plaster cubes with long, narrow corner windows shaped and positioned to spiral clockwise, catching the changing color of light throughout the day. Design is transparent to experience. Six guestrooms provide only the essentials — a bed, desk, chair, lights, and two windows. There are no telephones, data ports or television.
In the past, people came for the climate and the water, not the space and aesthetic of the desert. That changed. Our objective was to create a retreat in the desert: an environment of silent spaces that would encourage a contemplative state of mind.
SIZE: 4,000 SF