Abrams, Harold
Ain, Gregory
Alexander, Robert E.
Anderson, Guy
Antelline, Jon P.
Applebaum, Norm
Batter-Kay Associates
Beadle, Alfred
Beckett, Welton
Benedict, Hiram Hudson
Bernard, James
Bird, Fujimoto & Fish
Bonini, Vincent
Brownell, J. Herbert
Buff, Straub and Hensman
Campbell, Donald
Cody, William F.
Crane, Loch
Dammann, Bruce
Davis, Ronald K.
Decker, Arthur
Deems, Ward
Delawie, Homer
Des Lauriers, Robert
Drake, Gordon
Driskel, Jean Roth
Eckel, George
Eggers, Henry
Ellwood, Craig
Ferris, Robert
Fickett, Edward
Forester, Russell
Fowble, Robert
French, Stanley J.
Frey, Albert
Gill, Irving
Goldberg, Bertrand
Goldman, Donald
Gordon, Kenneth & Robert
Grossman, Greta
Hagadone, Walter
Harris, Harwell Hamilton
Henderson, John
Hester, Henry
Hope, Frank
Hufbauer, Clyde
Hubbell, James
Johnson, Philip
Jones, A. Quincy
Jones, Robert E.
Jung, Raymond
Kahn, Louis
Kellogg, Dick
Kellogg, Kendrick Bangs
Kesling, William
Killingsworth, Brady & Smith
Kowalski, Joseph
Krisel, William
Ladd, Thornton
Lareau, Richard
Lautner, John
Leitch, Richard
Lewis, Bill
Liebhardt, Frederick
Livingstone, Fred
Loring, Arthur
Lotery, Rex
Lumpkins, William
Lykos, George
Macy, Al
Malone, Ed
Marr, Clinton
Matthews, Roger
May, Cliff
McKim, Paul
Mitchell, Delmar
Mock, John
Mortenson, John
Mosher & Drew
Naegle, Dale
Neptune & Thomas
Neutra, Richard
Nomland & Nomland
Norris, Fred
Paderewski, CJ
Patrick, William
Paul & Allard
Paulson, Ted
Periera & Luckman
Platt, Robert
Ray, Eugene
Reed, John
Richards, Sim Bruce
Risley and Gould
Rosser, William
Ruocco, Lloyd

Salerno, Daniel
Schindler, Rudolph
Schoell & Geritz
Sigurdson, John
Simpson and Gerber
Skidmore, Owings and Merrill
Slatton, Bill
Smith and Williams
Soriano, Raphael
Spencer & Lee
Stimmel, William
Stone, Edward Durrell
Therkelsen, Lloyde
Tucker, Sadler & Bennett
Turner, Herb
Veitzer, Leonard
Vickery, Dean
Weir Brothers
Weston, Eugene III
Wheeler, Richard
Wright, Frank Lloyd
Wright, John Lloyd
Wright, Lloyd
Wulff and Fifield
Young, Richard

The Sun Villas: A. Quincy Jones' Hvistendahl Builder's House

Photograph by Robert Cleveland.

Discharged from the US Navy in 1945, architect A. Quincy Jones returned to Los Angeles and opened his office in the house in Laurel Canyon he had built with his former wife. The years following WWII saw Jones partnering with Paul R. Williams on several projects in the Palm Springs area.

Years before he would be widely acclaimed for his Case Study House #24 (1961) for Arts & Architecture and tract house designs for developer Joseph Eichler - simply known as 'Eichlers' - Jones secured his- and San Diego's first National American Institute of Architects 'First Honor Award' (in 1950) for his 1948 design - 'Builder's House for Hvistendahl'. Following the award, the December 1950 issue of Architectural Forum featured ‘Builder's House of the Year’ – what would be marketed locally as San Diego’s Sun Villa.

Photograph by Robert Cleveland.

While it was through his relationship with Joseph Eichler that A. Quincy Jones was provided both the venue and the freedom to implement his concepts in tract housing developments, the earlier Sun Villas served as the experimental training ground for Jones to ultimately raise the tract house in California from the simple stucco box to a logically designed structure integrated into the landscape and surrounded by greenbelts.

The house was designed originally for developer A.C. Hvistendahl - owner of Cal-Sun Building Company and Vistendahl Building Contractor in La Jolla. The intent was that the design was available for purchase, from a model home office on El Cajon Boulevard, for those clients who owned a parcel of land yet feared the rising building costs of custom homes.

Sun Villa logo from sales brochure

Cal-Sun logo from sales brochure

Advertisement in Magazine San Diego

Sun Villa Presentation Model - Photographer Not Known

Sun Villa Presentation Model - Photographer Not Known

Cory Buckner, author of A. Quincy Jones (Phaidon, 2002), described the San Diego House (1948) as follows, "In 1948, because he felt that no one in the San Diego area had yet cashed in on the appeal of “a good contemporary low cost house,” local builder A.C. Hvistendahl asked Jones to design a two-bedroom exhibition house. In 1950, Architectural Forum commented on the house, “Here is an architect’s solution to a builder’s problem which proves that top-flight modern design can offer more for the money in the most competitive building field – the $10,000 house market."

Photograph by Robert Cleveland

"Designed as an affordable, contemporary dwelling that could be built for people who already owned their lots, the 1,000-square-foot-house featured rooms that opened to a patio and a built-in kitchen that opened onto a dining area. The majestic, low-sloping roof was similar to that of [the architect's] Model 111 of the Mutual Housing Association development. Public reaction to the house was mixed. Many people, according to Hvistendahl, had never been exposed to severely functional architecture, and they found it rather staggering at first sight. But after two months of open house viewings, five hundred people per day were still passing through. Contemporary magazines commented that with Jones’s project, the door had been opened to contemporary architecture for the low-cost house," followed Buckner.

Photograph by Robert Cleveland. The caption under this photograph, as published in Magazine San Diego, states,"The kitchen is furnished like the living area, has big glass windows and avoids any impression of isolation from the rest of the house. Service bar divides dining area from kitchen. Standard equipment includes garbage disposal and dishmaster."

When architect Jones was awarded his national award for this project, the jury applauded various elements: "In appearance it is well handled, with elements beautifully related and details carefully studied. In addition, it is a serious and apparently successful attempt to approach the problems of building in the low-cost market. It was designed for construction on any lot in San Diego County for $8,750. The limitation of the program to the 1,200 square feet of usable floor area was aimed to demonstrate good design for the low-cost housing market. Its plan is compact and workable, with circulation carefully studied, and the entire lot is utilized as part of the living area," Buckner continued.

Photograph by Robert Cleveland.

Buckner, who also wrote about Jones' work on the Mutual Housing cooperative offered, "The similarities with Jones’ Mutual Housing Association houses are striking. Both projects featured post-and-beam construction, exposed tongue-and-groove ceilings, and exposed plywood cabinets with molded plywood door and drawer pulls. The inclusion of built-in cabinets and furniture helped moderate-income families keep down the cost of furnishing their homes.”

Photograph by Robert Cleveland.

Magazine San Diego offered, “San Diegans who have been following, with covetous eyes, the now snowballing swing to contemporary architecture in the big home and garden magazines, have often wondered why so few people have built that way here. The reason, of course, is not only the customary reluctance of most people to accept anything new, but the more fundamental drawback of high cost. The average family simply cannot afford the sizeable architect and contractor fees to build one of these rambling structures with their walls of glass and their vigorous uninhibited plans. There are hundreds of pseudo moderns around, but the truly architecturally designed contemporary homes are thinly scattered."

Photograph by Robert Cleveland. The caption under this photograph states,"The exterior walls, are approximately 60 per cent glass. Sidewalk trellis extends from garage to above the front door to shatter the direct rays of the sun."

Magazine San Diego continued, "One solution to this problem, offered by a San Diego company, the Cal-Sun Building Co. has been attracting nationwide notice. Last year, a La Jolla contractor, A.C. Hvistendahl, called in the brilliant modern architect, Mr. A. Quincy Jones, to design a home incorporating many of these new ideas but selling for a moderate price on a semi-volume contract basis."

Photograph by Robert Cleveland. The caption under this photograph states,"The fireplace, with its firebrick hearth and deep fire box, is impressively large and the focal point of the living room."

Magazine San Diego continued, "The theory was that although good contemporary is out of the reach of the average buyer if only a single unit is designed and built, the price can be competitive when a number of houses based on a sound, advanced architectural design are constructed. The result is San Diego's Sun Villa, a functional completely modern two bedroom home in which every room is the house opens onto its own private garden. Screening garden fences insure privacy from neighbors and permit the extensive use of glass walls, making living and entertaining areas interchangeable with the patios and terrace."

Photograph by Robert Cleveland. The caption under this photograph states,"Efficient use of space in the small bedroom, the built-in bunk beds and wardrobe in yacht-like natural finish."

Magazine San Diego continued, "There are alternate plans for one, two or three bedroom homes. The two bedroom basic home is priced to sell below $9,000 and has both FHA and GI financing approval...The plan is remarkable for its solution to another problem of economy that usually is disregarded: it is so equipped that a person who spends his last penny for it has to add only a minimum of equipment and furniture. The low price includes built-in dressing table in the larger bedroom, built-in phone table and desk, bar service counter and bunk beds. Undeniably, this collection of plywood built-ins leaves the owner little chance of asserting his own taste, but that is the price he pays for an excellently planned economy house. The low cost and originality of Jones’ plan have attracted considerable nation-wide publicity.”

Photograph by Robert Cleveland

The Sun Villa was shot by two established architectural photographers - Robert Cleveland and Maynard Parker. The latter's images were splashed across the pages of the October 1950 issue of House Beautiful by editor Elizabeth Gordon. Gordon, editor of House Beautiful between 1939-1964, according to the New York Times "...was determined to educate the American public about appropriate design and new American architecture." Gordon published entire issues on Frank Lloyd Wright, the California rancho house - including the 'pace setter house' issues in the late 1940s that "tracked and explained important trends in design to an audience just learning how to consume."

Photograph by Robert Cleveland. The caption under this photograph states,"The master bedroom features built-in dressing table and sliding panel wardrobes with enclosed shirt trays, apparel shelves and shoe racks. Wall at right is all glass, opens onto completely enclosed outdoor sun room, formed by outside extension of the walls of the bedroom and garage."

"This house was approached as an attempt to solve one specific problem and be the stepping stone to a solution of a more important problem," the architect said. "The specific problem was a 'good contemporary low cost house' that a contractor could build for people who already owned a lot but could not build as individuals because of high costs. The general problem was to prove the small house can be built within or under cost limits dictated by tract builders, yet give a buyer something that permits the type of living so much discussed by architects today," according to A. Quincy Jones: The Oneness of Architecture

Hvistendahl Builders House Photographed by Maynard Parker

Jones' approach was to design a house that provided "shelter and protection from the elements with a most economical structural system." The structure was very simple - comprised of 4 large rigid ribs running the long direction of the simple rectangular form, and sewn together with 2" x 6" tongue and groove Douglas fir roofing which was 'stained and exposed.' The architect's description of the home's exterior was simply, "only a skin of non-structural redwood, waterproofed plywood and glass. Exterior walls are 65% glass." To make the house efficient, Jones placed windows "high and next to ceiling to take off hot air;" and to include generous amounts of built-in storage to reduce the need for furniture. As with many Southern California homes by progressive architects of the period, each room opened to its own private garden enclosed by Jones' unique screening fence.

Hvistendahl Builders House Photographed by Maynard Parker for House Beautiful

House Beautiful "...made arrangements with Burnett's of San Diego to equip it with furnishings which would represent as good a value as a house itself. The cost of the furniture selected from Manual Martin's 'California House' group... is hardy Phillipine mahogany in a light 'wheat' finish." La Jolla interiors shop Armin Richter also provide materials for the exhibition home and photo shoot. These appear in Maynard Parker's photo shoot - while Robert Cleveland's images include a survey of early Post-War California furniture and furnishing designers and suppliers.

Partial List of San Diego Projects

Hvistendahl, A.C. Residence (1949-50)
2548 El Cajon Boulevard
*A Guide to Contemporary Architecture in Southern California noted an incorrect address as '2400 El Cajon Blvd' but sales materials clearly state the exact location.

Sun Villa remodeled by Sim Bruce Richards in 1959 for
Joachim E. and Suzanne Liebmann
Photograph by John Hartley

Sun Villa (1950)
3711 Dudley Street, Point Loma
*Later remodeled by architect Sim Bruce Richards

Sun Villa (1950)
3021 North Evergreen, Point Loma
*This example was destroyed by its 2nd owner and flipped for a profit.

Sun Villa (1950)
9211 Lavell, Mt. Helix
*After purchasing plans for a Sun Villa, the owner had Jones add a 3rd bedroom to the stock plans.

Sun Villa commissioned/purchased by Everett and Elrena Warnes (photo taken in 1961)

Sun Villa (1949-1950)
1040 9th Street, Ramona
*Purchased/Commissioned from Cal-Sun Building Co. by
Everett and Elrena Warnes

Sun Villa (1950)
5417 Pennsylvania Lane, La Mesa

Sun Villa (1951)
2015 S. Nevada Street, Oceanside

Sun Villa (1951)
1647 Berenda Place
, El Cajon

Photograph by Robert Cleveland

Photograph by Robert Cleveland. The Magazine San Diego caption under this photograph states, "Every room, like the living area, opens to the outdoors. The roof assembly is supported on columns, with no load on exterior or interior wallls."