Dale Naegle, FAIA (1928-2011)
Dale Naegle graduated from USC’s architecture program in 1954 in the height of Southern California’s modernist movement. With mentors William Perreira and A Quincy Jones helping form his approach to design, Mr. Naegle was one of several Los Angeles ex-patriots (like Robert Jones and Hal Sadler) to bring the Case Study House design ideology to San Diego.
Dale Naegle grew up in Van Nuys among walnut groves, chicken farms and movie stars. While living in Santa Barbara during his teens, Dale spent 15 years as a musician in dance bands through WW2 with Al Jarvis. Following the War, Mr. Naegle moved to the San Fernando Valley, only to realize because of the GI Bill, many of the area universities were full. Dale had no scholarship, and not having been a veteran, no GI Bill either.
While in high
school Dale Naegle loved to draw, and kept up with classmates in math.
Instead of pursuing these combined talents, Dale played music. Without
television, everyone around him played a musical instrument. So Dale
played music in the valley, among the farms and movie stars. Dale
traveled around Southern California during the war playing for soldiers
via the USO.
While living in Santa Barbara Dale Naegle bought books on Mies Van Der Rohe and Frank Lloyd Wright. He did not read up on the Bauhaus (as he saw it as a sham) but appreciated its California interpretation. He wasn’t educated in architecture but continues to believe since back then that the designers of the greatest spaces of all time are still unknown.
With USC’s program full, Dale Naegle went in the back door, he entered his architecture studies by attending night classes 2 to 3 times per week. He was still able to study under faculty like A Quincy Jones. Dale was not a typical undergrad – he didn’t participate in any activities on campus, instead he remained off campus working for variety of architects during the daylight hours. It was time to leave Los Angeles. “I felt like I was drowning in LA because of all the big names there… I knew nobody,” Mr. Naegle admitted.
Later, one of his fellow students from USC, Ed Malone asked him to help on a few San Diego projects for spec. builder Bill Nugent. Ed Malone (along with Robert Jones) also worked for Paderewski then Carl Tavares (later partner with Naegle, 1965). In San Diego, at this stage, Dale began to understand the needs of developers. Developers needed architects to create houses that would sell. “I loved La Jolla back then because of its sense of place. You knew you left somewhere and felt you arrived. The cove was the heart. La Jolla was not defined by its border, but of its heart. I thought to myself -- I’m going to work all my life; I ‘m never going to take a vacation; I may as well live in a vacation setting,” Mr. Naegle recalled.
Dale started a
partnership with Herb Turner (who had apprenticed for John Lloyd Wright
in Del Mar), down the hall from Fred Liebhardt’s practice. Ken
Kellogg worked for Naegle but could never draw a straight line. While
Naegle & Turner’s office décor was comprised of drafting
tables of discarded doors laid across multiple saw-horses, Liebhardt’s
nearby office (later to partner with Eugene Weston III) had bookshelves,
carpets, and a secretary. As with Henry Hester, Liebhardt was a great
designer but he had side (family) money to pick and choose their clients.
Mr. Naegle’s approach to architecture has never been confined. His design expression, however, has been more possible in his custom homes. In these designs he shifted from architect to “human-tect.”
Of the Pappenfort Residence (1962), San Diego & Point wrote: Architect Dale Naegle has achieved a home full of surprises and angles by the use of both vertical and horizontal paneled redwood, soaring beamed ceilings of lighter wood, and flat ceilings with translucent skylights. Despite the variety of angles, nothing is gimmicky. The feeling is clean-cut and linear.
“We were doing houses with integrity, privacy, and dignity between $20-30K for people trying to climb onto the equity ladder. We couldn’t make houses all look like Richard Neutra’s work because they wouldn’t sell, recalled Naegle. “Later, San Diego architects would have to increase density to yield affordability; Our creativity came from trying to get a better yield for the client. We’re still trying passionately to do this today,” Naegle continued.
With his design talents proven in early work for himself (Naegle #1 and Naegle #2) and clients (Pappenfort, Mansfield Mills – both published via Julius Shulman’s photography), Dale began to distinguish the lines between planner, architect, developer and client while working on larger scale projects. He recollects, “Planners love to plan with none of their own money and tell you (clients) how to live in it. Developers listen to how you live because their money is in it and they want to sell it.”
Dale maintains a vigilance about the melding of these disciplines, “When working with developers – they’ve always kept commercial and residential projects separate. I see the zone between – the shopkeeper concept (Rancho Bernardo’s Mercado being an early attempt). The community needs front porches, a combination of retail and live/work to protect the young girl walking home from the bus stop at night.”
Bell, Sam Residence,
Beach House & Tramway (1955-65)
Coastwalk La Jolla (1980s)
Colony Hill (1967)
B. Residence (1962)
Private Residence (1965)
Tenaya Hall (1969)
Tioga Hall (1969)
Dale Naegle was
Interviewed on 8/14/02 and 10/30/04 by Keith York