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
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
Jackson-Scott
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
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

William Sperry 'Bill' Lewis Jr.

I wanted to do projects to make an impact. Houses impacted too few people.
- Bill Lewis, Deems Lewis & Partners

In 1953 Bill Lewis graduated from USC, his degree in architecture in hand. Having spent the last several years with the likes of Cal Straub (Buff, Straub & Hensman), Gregory Ain (his 4th year instructor) Raphael Soriano and William Pereira, Bill was well prepared to start his career embracing Southern California’s post-war materials, styles and client needs. Attending USC’s architecture program at such an early age, Mr. Lewis’ studies were heavily impacted by his elders – approximately 90% of his fellow students were WW2 GIs, focused and heartily competitive to make their way in the post-war years. His teachers “worked us like dogs, creating a competitive environment that motivated us all” recalled Lewis recently.

While Arts & Architecture and John Entenza’s Case Study House program influenced many USC graduates, Lewis gives credit to Cal Straub as one of his earliest influences. Additionally, his early architectural heroes were Eero Saarinen, Gordon Bunshaft, Skidmore Owings & Merrill as well as IM Pei. Despite the casual observer linking Lewis’ work to that of Mies Van Der Rohe, Mr. Lewis recalled “…he was a bit stiff for me.” Also having an impact on his early career was Frank Lloyd Wright. Lewis didn’t agree with the Taliesin philosophy of enslaving students under the tutelage of one instructor. Having visited Taliesin, he concluded that Wright designed his buildings around himself, rather than a client’s needs. USC provided a varied education by way of its many highly respected and differentiated teachers. From his earliest coursework, Lewis’ philosophy became “understand what the project should be, and let the building bloom from there”.

His first years at USC were frightening. At one point an instructor threw away all of Bill Lewis’ drawings in one sweep of his arm.

Soon after graduation, Bill worked for Pereira & Luckman for one week following his return from being drafted into Korea. He walked away from the short assignment with a few early impressions of his career colleagues: Pereira showed him how important Business Development is to the profession; and Luckman’s designs in his opinion were immoral, failing to be honest to the client and the project.

Soon enough he joined the Los Angeles firm AC Martin where Ward Deems was already employed. By 1959 Bill and Ward had decided to move south and explore an architecture partnership in the growing city of San Diego. San Diego in 1959, according to Lewis was a cheap, sleepy city surviving on tourism and military spending. With financial and brand support from the AC Martin firm, they opened Deems, Martin Associates in the El Cortez Building – Ward being responsible for public relations and business development functions. Bill Lewis did not socialize with other architects (Deems on the other hand was president of the San Diego AIA) as he did not see the pursuit getting him anywhere. He saw himself as a coach to bring out the potential of other employees. He ran the firm as a team – the talent and personal ownership of the project was held by the team.

One of their earliest and most notable, and visible to the public, projects, the steel screen ensconced Crabtree Building (at 3rd & A Streets) was designed by Robert Jones (who would later join in partnership with Henry Hester). Jones and Lewis would be next door neighbors in Del Mar until Jones’ death.

In 1961, the firm Deems Lewis worked its way through their first San Diego recession. Embracing the city-wide motto “Try San Diego First” they and other firms worked to keep clients from heading to Los Angeles to have their projects designed. The firm watched San Diego grow larger and more sophisticated. One important milestone was the shift of retail from downtown to Mission Valley as Walker Scott and Marston's folded – in part because of the Deems Lewis design for Mission Valley shopping center. Also re-defining San Diego was interest in re-invention of the Embarcadero – a project illustrating Lewis’ point “if you want to get something done, you have to attack it politically.” Other forces contributing to San Diego’s evolution was Balboa Park’s metamorphosis and the beginning of UCSD’s prestigious work (leading to the sprawl on the bio-medical mesa).
Deems Lewis grew as a firm successfully surviving San Diego recessions of 1961, 1967 and 1972. Ward Deems retired in 1985 (at his home in La Jolla before moving to Bend, OR) and Lewis in 1990. The firm spent about one-third of its efforts on US Government work (mostly for the US Navy), 1/3rd on office buildings, and the remaining third on R&D for clients.

During his 41-year career, Bill Lewis only built three of his residential designs. His first, a project for friends in the San Fernando valley is still a sore spot on his CV – because it’s still standing. He has hoped for years the client (or a future owner) would demolish the work. His home for himself is a striking example of mid-century construction techniques and aesthetics embracing the climate with walls of glass and courtyard views off each room. Mr. Lewis designed his home after the firm was open for only four years. Following his purchase of the lot for $7800, he had little money to build. His goals in the design were to create a quiet, well-integrated, clean environment for his family. It was not to be ostentatious. His home for David Milne in 1974 was a simple, cost-effective design for friends living near their employer, San Diego State College.

“I would rather do anything than build my own house. I would rather solve someone else’s problems,” Lewis stated recently. Bill found the process of building his house frustrating – most notably by builder Herb Turner walking off the project after being the lowest bid for the job. Turner may have been off put by Lewis’ very-detailed drawings leaving little room for error or interpretation by Turner and his workers. While not engaging his wife, potter Joanne Lewis, in the problems of architecture, Bill only intimidated her with his design ideas. The low-point of construction was when Herb Turner exclaimed “you’re no Frank Lloyd Wright, I’m off the job.” Turner would later return to the project, fearing lost wages and a lawsuit, he built the house rapidly and to Lewis’ satisfaction. The greatest problem of designing and living in your own home according to Lewis, “houses can’t be static, because families change not only in size but in their relationships with each other.”

While Ward played the public role of the firm, Lewis focused on his designs, the teamwork of his staff, as well as his family and church life. While not in the public eye, Lewis was never short of opinion on the state of architecture: he saw post modernism in architecture as morally wrong, lacking integrity, and professionally dishonest. Post-modern architects failed to believe in the true nature of the project. Bill feels that city and county planning in San Diego is among the poorest he has witnessed.

Understanding the structure of an architectural firm to be directly related to the quality of work, Deems Lewis held steadfast to a empowering working groups and teams. Lewis’s philosophy is that “the person inside a bureaucracy creates and defends their own pasture, a sub-set of the whole. Their boss then becomes the biggest issue in their work. His project becomes third priority, after his own pasture. Deems Lewis’ 1st priority was the project, their 2nd priority was making a profit on the project, and 3rd was keeping the business afloat (personnel etc). The quality of a project can be too easily sacrificed because of the elements of the bureaucracy.

Within the field of architecture Lewis found three types of people. Accomplished Business Development people like Ward Deems soliciting work (only 2-3% of AIA members are qualified for this important role). Another 2-3% of AIA members Lewis argues are good Designers, taking designs from concept to built project. Lastly the field of architecture is comprised of Technical staff – which make up the bulk of architects. The latter not always able to make a building fit together, work and look good. Lewis maintains, “the problem with many architects is their inability to see in three dimensions.”

Early on in the firm’s history, Bill Lewis solicited the San Diego Art Guild to exhibit their members’ work in the newly opened projects. They liked large-scale paintings in large rooms – tying together great planes of space. Soon enough the firm took over granting approval of all works to be rotated on site. “Architecture is not complete. Buildings need people’s input (through art and décor.”

“If anything will make a project look good, it is landscaping. While landscape can be haphazard and still work, Balboa Park is a good example of an environment being created more by its landscape than its buildings.” Lewis’ own residence exemplifies his take on landscaping as an organic part of the site growing and changing over decades. With each room’s floor-to-ceiling glass walls framing a unique view of the landscape, the same grouping of flora takes on a different meaning from varied views.

I have respect for all people. I have a great respect for all the tradespeople working out in the field.
- Bill Lewis, Deems Lewis & Partners

Partial List of San Diego Projects Attributed to William Lewis

Carter-Higgins Office Building (1963)
2250 Fifth Avenue, San Diego, CA

Centerside Office Towers (1985-1987)


Christ The King Lutheran Church

Christ The King Lutheran Church (circa 1959) (now Saint Ephrem Church)
750 Medford Street
Designd by Deems Martin Associates

Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints
5299 Trojan Avenue, San Diego

Crabtree Office Building (1961)
Project Architect: Robert Jones, AIA
Honor Award, AIA San Diego Chapter

Cordura Publications (1980)
Scripps Ranch

El Cortez Convention Center (1960)
7th Avenue and Beech Street
Project Architect: Edward Malone, AIA
Award of Merit, AIA San Diego Chapter

Financial Square - San Diego Federal Building (1972)
Sixth Avenue and ‘B’ Street, San Diego, CA


Hillcrest North Medical Center

Hillcrest North Medical Center (1964)
550 Fifth Avenue at Washington Street, San Diego, CA
Building of the Year, San Diego Magazine

Humanities Library-Galbraith Hall (1965)
UCSD Revelle College. La Jolla, CA
Building of the Year, San Diego Magazine


Industrial Indemnity. Photograph by Darren Bradley

Industrial Indemnity (1970-74)
3255 Camino del Rio South, San Diego, CA
AIA Honor Award (Phase 1)
AIA Award of Merit (Phase 2), AIA San Diego Chapter

Koll Office Building (1987)

Lewis, Bill Residence (1964)
2029 Balboa, Del Mar

LKRD Medical Office Building (1970)
3260 3rd Street, San Diego, CA
AIA Award of Merit, AIA San Diego Chapter

Milne Residence (1970)
5118 Bixel Street, College Area


Mission Valley Center

Mission Valley Center (ca. 1960)
San Diego

Orr, Dr. & Mrs. Robert J. Residence (1960)
2382 Via Capri Court, La Jolla, CA
Award of Merit, AIA San Diego Chapter

Motorola Office Building (1979)

North County Detention Facility (1980)


Rubin, Seltzer, Soloman Bldg.

Rubin, Seltzer & Soloman Building (1964)
3003 Fourth Avenue
Notes: Recently remodeled with bad diagonal patio enclosure after recent fire.

Ruselso Office Building (1963)           
3003 Fourth Avenue, San Diego, CA
Note: Badly remodeled
Project Architect:  Donald Goldman, AIA
Award of Merit, AIA San Diego Chapter

San Diego County Welfare Office Building (1963)
HHFA First Honor Award

 

San Diego County Welfare Office Building (1963)

Torrey Pines High School (1976)
3710 Del Mar Heights Road, Del Mar, CA
Honor Award, Unit Masonry Association

Trade Services Publications (1983)

U.S. Customs Station (1969)
San Ysidro, CA

U.S. Navy Anti-Submarine Warfare School Mess Hall (1967)
Nimitz Blvd and Harbor Drive, San Diego, CA

U.S. Navy Enlisted Men’s Barracks (1964)
Anti Submarine Warfare School.
Harbor Drive and Nimitz Blvd
AIA Honor Award, AIA San Diego Chapter

U.S. Post Office Facility (1972)
2535 Midway Drive, San Diego, CA
AIA Award of Merit, AIA San Diego Chapter