Updated 12/15: Beginning in 1966, Sunnylands, the Rancho Mirage winter house belonging to philanthropists Walter and Leonore Annenberg, hosted seven US presidents, Queen Elizabeth II, a Sinatra wedding, and of course Bob and Dolores Hopes. In 1986, President Reagan made a televised New Year's greeting to Mikhail Gorbachev from the estate. The massive 25,000 square foot house was designed by A. Quincy Jones, with interiors by Billy Haines and Ted Graber, a golf course by Dick Wilson, and 200 acres of grounds. And now it's going to host us slobs. The Annenberg Foundation Trust at Sunnylands has opened up the house, plus a new visitors center designed by Frederick Fisher & Partners and gardens by the Office of James Burnett, although it's not just for us slobs; the Trust also intends for the estate to be a West Coast Camp David, hosting "high-level retreats bringing together United States and world leaders in efforts to advance international peace and increase global understanding."
The new Sunnylands Center sits on 15 acres (with nine acres of gardens) and has a central "living room" area, plus exhibition spaces, a meeting room, a cafe, shop, and a theater that seats 47. The Center is LEED Gold certified, with a "desert habitat, high-efficiency capillary irrigation system, soil moisture monitoring, storm water retention, geothermal wells, a solar field, and a green waste recycling program." Burnett's grounds are nice and tidy around the Center, sprawling out to become "more organic and free flowing."
FFP, which has a great deal of experience renovating Jones buildings, also rehabbed the residence. Conger Moss Guillard designed the landscaping (for the residence, not the Center as previously written) and Tim Jackson and David Kahn restored the golf course. The Annenbergs' ridiculously impressive art collection, meanwhile, has been donated to the Metropolitan Museum and replaced with impressive-looking replications.
The estate opens to the public on March 1. Tours will be $35.
· Sunnylands [Official Site]