Feature Articles

San Diego Banks and Art

Balboa Park: Modeltown

(Streamline) Modern San Diego

Modern La Jolla

The FutureCraft Home

Meet Mac McClain

San Diego Quick Tour

The Pan-Pacific House

Profile: The Timken Museum of Art

Architecture Critic James Britton's Biography

Towards a Definition of San Diego Modernism

Modernism: How The Principles Developed

Sim Bruce Richards: A Legacy in Wood

San Diego's Contemporary Modernists

AIA Design Awards Remarks

Photo Essay: Lloyd Ruocco Design Demolished

Preserving Modernism

Horizon Home

Much like their buildings, there are fewer of San Diego’s post-War Architects with us Today

UCSD Muir College Modernism

Definition of San Diego Modernism

Frank Lloyd Wright's Legacy in San Diego

Gregory Ain House Discovered in Vista

Modern San Diego Prologue

2004 Julius Shulman Wall Calendar

Keith York Interview 1

Keith York Interview 2

 

(Streamline) Modern San Diego

While I am no fan of the use of ‘Art Moderne’, it is often related to Streamline Modern – a later evolution out of Art Deco. Often these wonderful, white painted stucco, buildings appear to be descendants of Irving Gill’s later period homes filtered through an architect’s desire to emphasize simplicity in boxes and nautical references (chrome hardware, porthole-like windows).

Holding close to sensibilities leveraged by Bauhaus architects, the curved surfaces and absence of ornament can closely be aligned with the International Style – here architects like Richard Neutra’s 1930s homes open up to the landscape through horizontal bands of windows and reductive purity. Often steel was utilized to broaden interior spaces and reduce structural surfaces to allow for glass.

Emerging in the 1930s across the U.S. Streamline Modern(e) designs can be found in San Diego up through the mid-1940s. From rounded corners to walls of glass block, there are often easy signatures dictating the stylistic reference from the street. The demolished Heilig Myer building at 30th and El Cajon Boulevard, for example, was once a primary example of this scarce design period in San Diego.

As designers stripped Art Deco of its ornament, a nod to scientific thought and constructivism has helped us understand ‘streamlining’ in design through the 1930s. According to Wikipedia, “Streamline Moderne was both a reaction to Art Deco and a reflection of austere economic times; Sharp angles were replaced with simple, aerodynamic curves. Exotic woods and stone were replaced with cement and glass.” While ‘streamlining’ has been attributed to industrial design (e.g. the works of Walter Dorwin Teague, Raymond Loewy, Norman Bel Geddes and Gilbert Rohde) – notably appliances, furniture, automobiles, ships and trains of the era – the reductive use of smooth interior plasters and exterior stucco often make the structures appear to be aero- and hydrodamically efficient.

Partial List of San Diego Examples

Clitsome Residence (1938)
2228 33rd Street
Designed by Lloyd Ruocco

Commercial Building (1937)
301 University Avenue

Golden Hill Café
2505 C Street, San Diego


'Modern Spec Home by E.J. Christman - location unknown

Modern Spec Bungalow (ca. 1939-1942)
415 Third Street, National City
Designed by E.J. Christman

Modern Spec Bungalow (1942)
505 Third Street, National City
Designed by E.J. Christman

Modern Spec Bungalow (1939)
440 2nd Street, National City
Designed by E.J. Christman

Modern Spec Bungalow (1940)
441 E. Third Street, National City
Designed by E.J. Christman

Modern Spec Bungalow (1944)
703 F Avenue, National City
Designed by E.J. Christman

Modern Spec Bungalow (1937)
707 F Avenue, National City
Designed by E.J. Christman

Modern Spec Bungalow (1952)
717 F Street, National City
Designed by E.J. Christman

Multifamily Housing (1937)
1910 Robinson Avenue
Designed by Owen King

North Park Baptist Church (1935)
3810 Bancroft Street
Designed by J.S. Groves

Private Residence (1947)
4754 Santa Cruz Avenue, Ocean Beach
*2nd Story Addition circa 1975-1988

Private Residence (1939)
10755 Puebla Drive, La Mesa

Private Residence (1937)
1855 Willow Street, Point Loma

Private Residence (1938)
1925 Willow Street, Point Loma

Private Residence (1938)
8949 Alpine Avenue, La Mesa

Private Residence (1937)
2848 Kalmia Place, San Diego

Private Residence (1936)
3112 Curtis Street, Point Loma

Private Residence (1949)
1005 Alexandria Avenue, Point Loma

Private Residence (1936)
3037 28th Street

Private Residence (1937)
2505 Willow Street

Private Residence (1938)
3529 Browning Street

Private Residence (1938)
3311 Xenophon

Private Residence (1938)
1925 Willow Street

Private Residence (1941)
4391 Middlesex Drive

Private Residence (1942)
4388 Middlesex Drive

Private Residence (1938)
5877 Estelle Street, San Diego

Private Residence (1938)
6037 Carol Street, San Diego

Private Residence (1941)
8463 Golden Avenue, Lemon Grove

Private Residence (1939)
8276 Golden Avenue, Lemon Grove

Private Residence (1944)
1977 Sunset Cliffs