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Philanthropist Max Palevsky Thought He Should Have Been An Architect

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Computer magnate and philanthropist Max Palevsky, who famously and generously gave to political causes, LACMA, and Rolling Stone, died last week in his house in Beverly Hills. In the 1980s, he gave and later tried to withdraw a $1 million pledge to build a permanent home for MOCA because, according to his LA Times obituary, he claimed "the then-fledgling museum reneged on a promise to give him architectural control of its new complex on Bunker Hill." The obituary also recounts the time he told a LAT reporter, "I should have been an architect," a line repeated in the book California Modern, about his friend, the architect Craig Ellwood. It quotes Palevsky: "I should have been an architect, but I grew up in the Depression and I didn't really choose what I became...I've always been very interested in architecture and I have four houses." (There's a book about three of his houses, including the one in Palm Springs [pictured].)

In the late sixties Palevsky hired Ellwood to design the El Segundo headquarters for his company Scientific Data Systems. They became friends (and belonged to the same tennis club), according to the book, and Palevsky asked Ellwood to build him a house in Palm Springs. Palevsky already had a place in the Town and Country Center, designed by Paul Williams and A. Quincy Jones, but he wanted more privacy, so the two considered a walled Moroccan-style house. Palevsky took Ellwood and his then-wife to Morocco, but they found houses surrounded by walls made of boulders, and decided that approach would be too expensive and didn't fit Ellwood's style anyway. So, Palevsky said, "[W]e gave that up and Craig designed this." This would be the Max Palevsky House on West Cielo Drive, which was based instead on houses near the airport in Casablanca--with a guest house and main house surrounded by a rectangular wall. The house is still part of Palevsky's estate. Max Palevsky House via Palm Springs Architecture
· Max Palevsky dies at 85; computer magnate and philanthropist [LAT]