Mr. & Mrs. Harwell Hamilton Harris Residence (1952) in Fallbrook

Monday September 27, 2010

One of a small number of residences in San Diego County designed by Harwell Hamilton Harris is up for sale. The home designed for Harwell and Jean Harris has an interesting story -- one that includes the fact that the couple only occupied the house for 5 days until he took a teaching position that effectively removed him from California -- the state that had birthed his design ethos. While the house has been remodeled extensively, drawings and vintage photos are available to start, what could be a stellar restoration effort. Pick up the house for under $500K, tear away the additions, restore the homes elegance and enjoy the sprawling two-lot parcel in rural Fallbrook. Drop Mercer York a line for more info.

Architect Ronald K. Davis passed away on September 18. Davis played a key role in helping shape Modern San Diego by offering a great deal of insight into his and others' work, helping with securing sites for a home tour, as well as sharing materials and good humor. We will miss him terribly. Read his obituary HERE.

Ex- Eames Office employees, (great folks to hang out with), and husband and wife design team, Marilyn and John Neuhart have released a follow up to their great books Eames House and Eames Design. The new title, The Story of Eames Furniture, arrives as a 2-volume 800-page hard cover “…brimming with images and insightful text, this unique book is the benchmark reference on what is arguably the most influential and important furniture brand of our time. It reveals in unparalleled detail how Charles and Ray Eames as well as a talented team of designers worked to create pieces that still top bestseller lists. The book describes the key role played by the Eames Office's own development and perfection of production processes for its designs as well as the significance of its relationship with manufacturers.” Read more HERE and HERE.

William Krisel, 85, held court at the Friends of San Diego Architecture season-opening lecture. Roger Showley reviewed the “…entertaining, insightful review of his 30-year career. HERE. "He brought modernism to the masses," said San Diego commercial photographer Mike Torrey, who introduced Krisel at the event.

Having expressed my curiosity of architect James Bernard’s work (up until his death on December 31, 1965) here on the site, it was with great surprise to learn that Bernard’s widow just passed away at 87 – and was also an architect. Berenice Bernard was stricken with polio in 1951 and left a career in architecture behind. When James died in 1967, she returned to the workforce with Paderewski-Dean and Associates. A (1946) graduate of UC Berkeley’s architecture program “…where she was one of two women in the school of architecture, according to her son. She married classmate James Bernard in 1945. She and her family moved to San Diego shortly after she was diagnosed with polio…” Read the full obituary HERE.

SEPARATED AT BIRTH?: The above photograph is of the Ford Pavilion, New York World's Fair.
Designed by Welton Becket & Associates with structural engineering by Richard Bradshaw, 1964.
Photo courtesy Richard Bradshaw.

Consider, for a moment, the possible connection between the 1964 Ford Pavilion and….

...Drew Ford, located at 8970 La Mesa Boulevard. Photograph by Iris Conrad.

Tuesday September 14, 2010

According to architect Robert Des Lauriers, Elmer Drew attended the 1964 World’s Fair and returned enamored with Welton Beckett’s Ford Pavilion at the same time he was developing plans for his La Mesa dealership. Upon his return to San Diego Drew rang up Des Lauriers seeking to hire the firm to draw up a similar design. It is, at press time, unclear who Drew sourced to design and engineer the structure (which was adjacent to Des Lauriers’ first design for Foodbasket while employed by Louis Bodmer). According to Robert, “… when the Drew Roundhouse was built it was part of the progressive car design that Ford was promoting. It was strongly suggested 'the roundhouse' symbolized being the place where you could go to make great deals for great cars. No other Ford Dealership had a building so symbolic. Not even, the stand alone in El Cajon, Pearson Ford, had such an iconic structure.”

The extraordinary -- and never open to the public — Case Study House #9 designed by Charles Eames and Eero Saarinen for John Entenza will be the venue for the Museum of California Design's October 3rd Award Benefit and Auction honoring Charles and Ray Eames. Christopher Hawthorne, architecture critic for the Los Angeles Times, will present the museum's Henry Award to Charles and Ray Eames' grandchildren, Eames Demetrios, Director of the Eames Office and Chairman of the Board of the Eames Foundation, and Lucia Dewey Atwood, Eames Foundation Board Member and Director of Eames House Preservation, on the designers' behalf on Sunday, October 3, between 2-5PM. For additional information and ticket purchases go to:


Saturday September 10, 2010

The New School of Architecture & Design’s First Year Undergraduate students have been researching each of the Case Study House projects (John Entenza’s post-war Arts & Architecture Magazine initiative) and have created an impressive body of work, complete with reconstructive drawing, monographs and models of all homes, those existing, demolished and never built. Prior to publishing the work in print or online, they are hosting a reception to celebrate the completion of the projects. Join the students and faculty for food, beverages and spirits, and at 4 PM , Wednesday Sept. 15 in the Main Building at 1249 F Street near the Auditorium.

Head on over to the Orchids & Onions site to review the 200 nominations and comment, comment, comment... Scan over to the left column to the 'Review Current Nominations' sections and you can pick categories like 'Sustainable Design' and 'Historic Preservation'.

AIA Los Angeles’s annual self-guided home tour is coming up on September 19. Homes span from Los Feliz to Beverly Hills and will include contemporary designs by John Pugliese, Marc Angelil and Sarah Graham, Zoltan Pali and more. The AIA Fall Home Tour runs from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tickets are $65 to $75 in advance, $85 on the day of the tour. Order online or call (213) 639-0777.

Architect Oscar Niemeyer just scored Spain’s Order of Arts and Letters which recognizes people or institutions that help Spanish culture flourish. The 102-year-old was awarded for his design of the Niemeyer Cultural Center in Aviles, his largest project in Europe.

Scholl & Geritz Commercial Building on 4th Avenue -- to be demolished?

Thursday September 9, 2010

One of our intrepid reporters has just alerted us about a 100-unit condo and mixed-use development being planned on the south side of Thorn Street between Fourth and Fifth Avenues in Hillcrest. Among the properties to be demolished is a particularly fine, exquisitely detailed office building at 3230 Fifth Avenue designed by architects Don Schoell and Gene Geritz in the 1960s. It was also occupied for a number of years by architects Jack Carpenter and Neil Larson. Bruce Leidenberger, the developer, is appealing a Planning Department denial for a Site Development Permit. A public hearing on the appeal is scheduled at 2:00 p.m. Tuesday, September 21, 2010 in the City Council Chambers.

Friends of San Diego Architecture opens its new season with The Architecture of William Krisel in San Diego on Saturday, Sept. 18th at 9:30 AM. The presentation will be held at NewSchool of Architecture & Design, located at 1249 F Street. Now 84, Mr. Krisel will share his thoughts on design followed by a coffee break and discussion. For more information, visit

Friends of San Diego Architecture will relauanch their website today to include their 2010-2011 Program and the Ned Paynter Collection. Photos taken by Paynter over a 40 year period during his career as a history professor, architecture buff and world traveler will be available for viewing, downloading, and purchasing of prints. Friends of San Diego Architecture received these thirty tins of treasure from Ned’s family after his death in 2007 and are pleased to share these with the public. More images will be added weekly.

UC San Diego’s built environment will be explored and celebrated in “UCSD by Design: Art, Architecture, and Urbanism in the Campus Context,” the centerpiece of which is a five-part public lecture and discussion series beginning Sept. 30. Also celebrating the university’s built environment are the recently published book “University of California, San Diego: The Campus Guide” (Princeton Architectural Press) andan exhibit on campus art and architecture in the Arts Library, opening Sept. 29. The campus has buildings Mosher & Drew, Liebhardt & Weston, Lloyd Ruocco, Robert Alexander, Dale Naegle, Charles Gwathmey, Charles Moore, William Pereira, Antoine Predock, Rob Quigley, Michael Rotondi and Moshe Safdie.

The “UCSD by Design” lecture and discussion series begins Sept. 30 and Oct. 1 with Yale University architectural historian Kurt W. Forster, founding director of the Getty Research Institute. His talk is entitled “Sea, Sky and Science: The UCSD Campus Between the Real and the Ideal.” Following Forster, the series features art historian and J. Paul Getty Museum Director Emeritus John Walsh (Nov. 4 and 5); curator, critic, artist and Yale Art School Dean Robert Storr (Feb. 3 and 4); architect Jean-Philippe Vassal and landscape architect/environmental theorist Gilles Clément (Mar. 3 and 4), and renowned architectural historian and critic Charles Jencks (April 21 and 22). Each “UCSD by Design” lecture/discussion event consists of a Thursday evening keynote at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego’s Sherwood Auditorium in La Jolla, beginning at 7 p.m., followed the next morning, from 10 a.m. to noon, by a moderated discussion at UCSD.  At the moderated discussions, the speakers will be joined, appropriate to the topic, by invited architects, architectural historians, landscape architects, art historians, Stuart Collection artists, urban planners, campus planners, and academics in related disciplines.
Admission to all the lectures and discussions is free.  Information:

University of California, San Diego: The Campus Guide” (Princeton Architectural Press) is written by San Diego design journalist Dirk Sutro andis organized into 10 map-guided walking tours. Illustrated with photographs by renowned architectural photographers David Hewitt and Anne Garrison, the book presents a history of the growth of the campus as a colorful journey from the Sputnik era through the upheavals of the sixties to the present day. The book is on sale at the UCSD Bookstore, Additional information: A book signing will take place at the opening of the exhibition “Modern UCSD:  Celebrating 50 years of Campus Architecture,” on Sept. 29, beginning at 2 p.m., in the Arts Library, on the ground floor of Geisel Library. The exhibition will remain on view through Dec. 3.

ABOVE: The once-proud, elegant and refined Hancock Insurance building by Skidmore Owings Merrill
BELOW: It now looks like this.

Worthy of nominating for an 'Onion' through the San Diego Architectural Foundations 'Orchids and Onions' this year or next...
Certainly it's worthy lamenting... along with Teague's Ford Dealership razing...

Saturday September 4, 2010

Short-sighted owners, developers, and 'historians' alike are letting another San Diego cultural asset disappear from the landscape. This week we lose the only known local example of post-war Skidmore Owings & Merrill design - the Guardian Life Insurance Company of America (1956) at 2901 5th Avenue, San Diego. Watching fellow San Diegans attempt to define this project as unimportant has ranged from absurd to comedic -- but the net result is the same.

Through information gleaned from recent interviews, I will been updating pages dedicated to Robert Des Lauriers and Don Goldman in the coming days. More photos and material to come!

If you are headed up to Long Beach for the Labor Day weekend, consider THIS LIST of the city's architectural highlights to make your trip even better.


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