Loch Crane arrived in Point Loma from Wyoming in 1929 with his brother Russ and his mother, who had moved the family there in searching of a better place to raise her kids. Improved schooling was a priority for Mrs. Crane, and she had already taught her children to read herself. Young Loch Crane spent his time drawing incessantly and building the occasional boat with his own hands.
Mrs. Crane showed her son the January 17, 1938 issue of Time Magazine, featuring Frank Lloyd Wright on the cover as “the greatest American architect of all time”. As Crane looked at the magazine, his mother said, “this is who you will go work for”. Crane was skeptical of his mother’s words. But after a number of high school drafting classes, and short stint in the offices of Richard Requa and Templeton Johnson (with Robert Mosher), he and his mother packed up her Model A Ford and drove to Taliesin West outside of Scottsdale. They arrived in Arizona in early March 1941 - Mrs. Crane brandishing a $1000 check for the fellowship tuition, and the younger Crane armed with completed drawings from Templeton Johnson’s office. Wright accepted him for the fellowship. After returning to Point Loma briefly, Crane returned to Taliesin in April to begin the long caravan road trip to Spring Green, Wisconsin for the spring and summer months with Wright and other students. To this day, Crane is unsure if Wright accepted him based on merit and skill, or saw his tuition check as immediately necessary to get his family and apprentices back to Taliesin.
While in Spring Green, Crane was introduced to the woman who would become his wife. Clare was one of a cadre of a young women invited to Taliesin to be fellows and companions for the Wright’s daughter. Mrs. Wright played matchmaker with Crane and Clare, a bond that has lasted to this day.
Less than a year later, Crane made a life-changing decision. While working in the Taliesin drafting room, news came over the Fisher radio that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. The date was December 7, 1941 and Crane was only eight months into his fellowship. Despite instructions from Mr. Wright that all of his fellows must be pacifists and conscientious objectors, Crane and a few others wanted to fight for their country. While other apprentices were jailed for refusing to enlist, Crane signed up for the Army Air Corps and terminated his Taliesin fellowship in April 1942.
Following his WW2 service flying B-25s, Crane stayed in Japan through1946 teaching “twin-engine advanced” pilots and overseeing some construction efforts. Most important, he spent his free time photographing, drawing and researching Japanese architecture. Many of the photographs he took would take later end up in a slide show for Mr. Wright and his colleagues back at Taliesin West. Crane says that when he pointed out the red-orange tips of beams extruding from Shinto shrines, Frank Lloyd Wright commented “…even they have copied me…!” While traveling through Kyoto, Nara and Isai, Crane began his understanding of Japanese culture.
Loch Crane returned to San Diego in late 1946 to his wife Clare. By 1948, he built his first “expandable house” on Udall Street in Point Loma – testing the concept for his own family. The concept house was intended to be built in stages – expanding as one’s family grew. What was supposed to start out as a one-bedroom house was expanded immediately as the Crane’s expected the birth of their son. Also on the drawing board at this time was a house for Crane’s brother, Russ.
Crane began to pick up work immediately as a building designer – building small professional buildings and warehouses for Bob Golden and Gene Trepte, as well as a few homes for private clients. Soon, the City of San Diego began to pressure him about the volume of unlicensed work he was producing. Taking advantage of the GI Bill, Crane crammed a 5-year program of Architecture between 1954-57 and graduated Cum Laude from USC. In addition to his studies, Crane was student instructor for Cal Straub.
Designing and creating boats and buildings are part of Crane’s connection with nature. Like sailing, driving or flying (Loch has logged over 3000 flight hours), “building with one’s own hands”, according to Crane, is “the essence of life”. Understanding the relationship between indoors and outdoors, building something useful, and creating small environments in harmony with the larger environment are the essence of his search for connection and belonging. He continues to believe in doing it yourself, finding your own way, and following your own path. Staying well outside the conventions of AIA meetings and conferences, as well as city politics, Crane reflects, “I want to turn to nature for my sense of belonging.
Loch Crane Office Locations
953 Eighth Ave
'Loch Crane and
Associates, Architect' (ca.
Partial List of San Diego Projects
Aero Office Park
Crane, Loch Residence
Crane, Loch Residence
Crane, Loch Residence
Dixon, Ray Residence
and Joan Residence (1964)
"House for 75 Women" (1963)
Crane Office Building (1965)
La Jolla Racquet
MCRD PX, (hexagonal
L. Residence (1961)
F. Residence (1962)
Roper, Cecil and Virginia Residence (1964)
Mary Edna Rose Residence (1957)
Salk, Jonas Residence
San Diego County
Security Bank Buildings
Tussey, Chet Residence
Young, M.A. Residence