According to Cory Buckner in A. Quincy Jones (Phaidon, 2002), the San Diego House, San Diego, 1948. H.C. Hvistendahl, developer, A. Quincy Jones, Architect was described as follows:
In 1948, because he felt that no on in the San Diego area had yet cashed in on the appeal of “a good contemporary low cost house,” local builder H.C. Hvistendahl asked Jones to design a two-bedroom exhibition house. In 1950, Architectural Forum commented of 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.”
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 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.
Jones was awarded the National AIA First Honor Award in 1950 for this project. It appealed to the jury for three principal reasons. 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.
The similarities with the 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.
In other publications, the San Diego Houses were referred to as Sun Villas. This home won a national Honor Award from the AIA (in 1950), the first such award for a San Diego project. The original model home for the line of "Sun Villas" was located at 2548 El Cajon Boulevard in 1950. At the time, Magazine San Diego noted that Sun Villas were published in .
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 glassand their vigorous uninhibited plans. There are hundreds of pseudo moderns around, but the truly architecturally designed contemporary homes are thinly scattered.
One solution to this problem, offered by a San Diego company, the Cal-Sun Home Building Co., has been attracting nation-wide notice. Last year a La Jolla contractor, A.C. Hvistendahl, called in teh 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. 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.
There are alternate plans for one, two or three bedroom homes. the two bedroom basic home is priced to sell below $9000 and has both FHA and GI financing approval.
The plan is remarkable for its solution to another problem of economy that usually is disregarded: itis 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 Jone's plan have attracted considerable nation-wide publicity.
Partial List of San Diego Projects
of Hotel Del Coronado Property for Ben Deane
Center for the Arts (designed 1968, built 1975)
on Coronado Island for Irving C. Jordan and Nels G. Severin
San Luis Rey
Estates Tract (1963)
H.C. Residence (1951)
Sun Villa (1950)
Sun Villa Model
Sun Villa (1951)
Mission (ca. 1950)