E. Stewart Williams, 95, a Palm Springs, Calif., architect who reflected a love of modernism and the desert in houses and buildings that became landmarks of midcentury style, died Sept. 10 at his home in Palm Springs' Seven Lakes Country Club. No cause of death was reported.
The last of his generation of Desert Modern architects, Mr. Williams helped define an aesthetic that embraced the informality of Palm Springs and stressed clean lines, indoor-outdoor living and the use of glass and other artificial and natural materials.
Mr. Williams's style was influenced by a trip in the 1930s to Scandinavia, which nurtured an affinity for simplicity and building with wood and stone, characteristics that distinguished him from modernists inclined to more geometrical and metallic forms.
"His modernism took the international style and warmed it up," said Peter Moruzzi, an architectural historian and founding president of the Palm Springs Modern Committee. "Stewart combined contemporary or modern with natural materials in a very sublime way."
The bookends of Mr. Williams's five-decade career are among his best-known works. His first commission in Palm Springs was a house for Frank Sinatra in 1947. A half-century later, he came out of retirement to renovate and expand the Palm Springs Desert Museum, which he had designed in the 1970s.
Born in Dayton, Ohio, he was the son of Harry Williams, an architect known for designing the Dayton offices of National Cash Register Corp. Stewart Williams studied architecture at Cornell University and the University of Pennsylvania, where he received a master's degree in 1934. He taught for several years at Bard College in New York and read up on modernist masters, particularly Ludwig Mies van der Rohe, Walter Gropius and Serge Chermayeff.
In 1936, during a six-month architectural tour of Europe, he was impressed by the human scale and organic feel of the architecture in Sweden. He decided then that he wanted his buildings to "have soul, to be a place where people were part of the human race, not an exercise in geometry," he told Alan Hess in the 2001 book "Palm Springs Weekend: The Architecture and Design of a Midcentury Oasis."
His wife of 60 years, Mari Schlytern, died in 1998.
Survivors include three children, five grandchildren and three great-grandchildren.