Arthur Lee Simpson and Joseph William Gerber
The firm of Simpson & Gerber Architects, founded in 1962, closed its doors in 1995 the year Joe Gerber died of Alzheimers. Through the decades the firm enjoyed a number of residential commissions throughout San Diego (e.g. Oaks North in Rancho Bernardo) and a number of commercial projects (especially hospitals) across the U.S. According to Mr. Simpson, the office was the largest office in San Diego during the peak of their hospital work. In 1968, the office raised local eyebrows when they voluntarily raised their staff’s wages 20%. The local chapter of the AIA held a special meeting to discuss the ramifications of this wage increase on other local firms. Fellow architects like Ward Deems reached out to the team to gain the backstory behind such unprecedented raises.
Arthur L. Simpson grew up in Fort Bragg, CA where, in high school, an aptitude test reported that a good career option for him was as an architect. He attended Cal (1951-56) where he signed up for ROTC and served at Fort Ord. Following graduation, with an appreciation of Le Corbusier’s work, he drove south the San Diego not long after interviewing at William Wurster’s office. In 1956, his first job was in Tom Shephard’s office. Shortly thereafter he would gain experience in the offices of Richard Wheeler (alongside Gayne Wimer), Frank Hope and Henry Hester. Of the latter experience, Art would recall it was a place where “…every detail was a work of art.” He joined the San Diego chapter of the AIA in 1961 initiating Simpson & Gerber Architects with Joseph Gerber at 7911 Herschel Avenue Suite #410, La Jolla.
Joseph William Gerber was born (October 5, 1930) in Rochester, New York, secured his BA in architecture from the University of Michigan and served in the US Navy (between 1951-55) before moving to San Diego. Joe worked for Lloyde Therkelsen prior to joining George Hatch’s office (where he and Art Simpson worked together). Following a stint with Tucker, Sadler & Bennett he reconnected with Art to create their own firm.
Following service to the local AIA chapter on its membership committee (1966-67), Joe Gerber served as the chapter's chairman in 1967.
According to author Dirk Sutro, “Some of Simpson & Gerber’s best-known designs are clean-lined La Jolla beach houses covered with rustic wood siding, and the Revelle College Provost’s Office draws from their residential work.” The Revelle College Provost wanted a glass building, according to Mr. Simpson, as he “…did not want anything between he and the students [at a time of campus student uprisings].” Joe Gerber created a structural roof system so it could be wrapped in glass.
Partial List of Projects
and Peggy Residence Remodel (1962)
Convalescent Hospital (1969)
Masek, Lois and
Hopsital and Clinic (1969)
Provost's Office (1967-68)
Seven Lamps Office
US Navy Barracks