Loch Crane (1922-2016)
Loch Crane was born on December 21, 1922 in Pittsburgh. He arrived in Point Loma from Wyoming in 1929 with his brother Russ and his mother, Edith, who had moved the family there in search of a better place to raise her kids. Improved schooling was a priority for Mrs. Crane, as she had already taught her children to read herself. A 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 Crane looked at the magazine, Edith 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 a short stint in the offices of Richard Requa and William Templeton Johnson (alongside Robert Mosher), he was hopeful. During the summer after he graduated from high school, on August 26, 1940, Edith Crane wrote Frank Lloyd Wright requesting "...information regarding your course of instruction."
Loch and his mother packed up her Model A Ford and left Point Loma to drive to Taliesin West outside of Scottsdale. They arrived in Arizona in 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 later become his wife. Clare Bloodgood was one of a cadre of a young women invited to Taliesin to be fellows and companions for Mr. Wright’s daughter. Mrs. Wright played matchmaker with Loch and Clare.
Later that year Loch 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 months into his fellowship. Despite enoucragement from Mr. Wright that his fellows embrace pacifism, Crane and a few others wanted to fight for their country. Crane signed up for the Army Air Corps and terminated his Taliesin fellowship in April 1942.
Following his service flying B-25s in World War II, Crane stayed in Japan through1946 teaching “twin-engine advanced” pilots and overseeing some construction efforts as a Major – Director of Installations. While off duty, Loch 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 married Clare in 1944 and shipped out again. He returned to San Diego in late 1946 and established his first office as a Building Designer. By 1948, he built his first “Expandable Home” 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.
From his 1957 Autobiographical Sketch in an application for a Sears-Roebuck Foundation Fellowship, Crane wrote, “With a nominal background of architectural apprenticeship I was invited to join Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship in 1941 where I stayed until the outbreak of World War II… As an architectural apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright, I observed the case of a fine professional planning architect dealing specifically with one individual client, or a selected small group. Here the effort of the architect was toward accomplishing the most for the client at, sometimes, the expense and detriment of the community as a whole. This was due to the prevailing climate of opinion in those days, although Mr. Wright appreciated the importance and necessity of regional planning as evidenced by his preparation of plans and large scale model of a project called ‘Broadacre City’, and his ‘Garden Apartments’. Mr. Wright has created great beauty and functional adaptability to answer the needs of a fortunate few; the more needy masses have all to often been neglected and frustrated… Leaving the Fellowship I entered flight training in the US Army Air Corps … Returning to architecture after discharge in 1946 I served as apprentice to William Templeton Johnson, FAIA, and subsequently opened my own drafting office while preparing for architectural examinations. At the outbreak of the Korean Conflict I was called back to active duty… Following Korean Conflict I returned to private practice in San Diego where I subsequently completed projects such as shopping centers… My limited capability became apparent and I thus entered the College of Architecture at USC for the academic background to supplement my practical experience. In three academic years at USC I completed the scope of five year curriculum… I now want to serve the public at a level where I can ‘feel’ the needs and aspirations of the individual yet adapt that same individual into harmonious and mutual advantageous relationships with the larger community…”
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 served as a student instructor for Cal Straub.
Back in San Diego, he obtained his license to practice architecture – moving from Building Designer to establishing Loch Crane, AIA Architect. Growing as a firm, he established Loch Crane & Associates in 1961 from his office at 1461 Morena Boulevard.
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 Projects
Aero Office Park
Arts and Crafts Press Building (1957)
for Mr. & Mrs. L.L. (1950)
Colony Kitchen Restaraunt Chain (1966-)
Crane, Loch Residence
Crane, Loch Residence
Crane, Loch Residence
W. Bachelors Quarters (1948)
Dixon, Ray Residence
Hayes, Buzz & Rusty Residence (1955)
& Barbara Residence (1955)
and Joan Residence (1964)
"House for 75 Women" (1963)
Crane Office Building (1965)
La Jolla Racquet
MCRD PX, (hexagonal
F. Residence (1962)
L. Residence (1961)
Roper, Cecil and Virginia Residence (1964)
Mary Edna Rose Residence (1957)
Salk, Jonas Residence
San Diego County
Adoption Center (1969)
Security Bank Buildings
Episcopal Church (1967)
Chet Residence (1965)
Vulcan Square Shopping Center (1961)
Young, M.A. Residence