The new Agua Caliente Cultural Center in downtown Palm Springs scheduled to open in 2020 will feature a new cultural museum and spa & bathhouse. The project includes numerous outdoor activity spaces, including a gathering plaza adjacent to the Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Spring, originally known as Sec hé (the sound of boiling water), which serves as a commemorative focal point for the new development. Here, Tribal Members and visitors can celebrate community, history and pay respect to the life-giving waters that shaped the Palm Springs region.
From the gathering plaza, visitors will be able to access either the cultural museum or the spa & bathhouse along landscaped terraces and pathways that serve as an extension of the gathering plaza. An interpretive green belt — the oasis trail — meanders through the property and provides an interactive, cultural learning environment. This trail recreates, on a smaller scale, the distinctive character, geology, flora and beauty of the nearby Indian Canyons, one of the ancestral homes of the Agua Caliente.
The new museum includes approximately 48,000 square feet and will feature collections in a main gallery and changing gallery. The new museum, a repository for cultural artifacts, stories and history, will also include an education center, multipurpose room and garden.
The spa includes approximately 40,000 square feet to celebrate the ancient healing waters of the Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Spring with treatments rooms, men and women’s bathhouses, a tranquility garden, a salon, fitness center and outdoor mineral pools. The water from the Agua Caliente Hot Mineral Spring is estimated to be upwards of 12,000 years old and is truly unique as it contains a mineral make-up that has not been found anywhere else in the world. The Tribe has shared the healing water with visitors for more than 100 years. This new spa will be the fifth bathhouse or spa at the site, with the first one operating in the late 1880s.
Building upon the traditions of the Agua Caliente people and the world-renowned natural features of their ancestral lands, the new Agua Caliente Cultural Center will encompass a wide-range of experiences and learning opportunities that convey the values and legacy of the Agua Caliente Band of Cahuilla Indians.
Inspiration for the cultural center’s design includes Agua Caliente traditions such as basket weaving and pottery (ollas) and elements found in nature including desert landscapes, the Andreas Canyon rock formations and a stream along with the Washingtonia filifera palm trees – the only palm tree native to the California desert.
JCJ Architecture, of Phoenix, is the project designer. JCJ Architecture’s design concept for the cultural center reflects the Tribe’s values and ongoing commitment to the Agua Caliente people.
“This Cultural Center will allow us to reconnect to our own cultural heritage while sharing it with others,” Tribal Chairman Jeff L. Grubbe said.