Loch Crane

Architect | 1922-2016

Loch Crane apprenticed under Frank Lloyd Wright, flew B-25 bombers in World War II and travelled Japan following the War before returning to San Diego to apprentice with William Templeton Johnson. Taking advantage of the GI Bill, Crane attended USC between 1954-57 and obtained his license to practice architecture – establishing Loch Crane & Associates in 1961.

Loch Crane was born on December 21, 1922 in Pittsburgh. He arrived in Point Loma, from Wyoming, in 1929 with his brother Russ and his mother, Edith, who had moved the family here in search of a better place to raise her kids. Improved schooling was a priority for Mrs. Crane, as she had already taught her children to read herself. A young Loch Crane spent his time drawing incessantly and building the occasional boat.

Edith Crane showed her son the January 17, 1938 issue of Time Magazine, featuring Frank Lloyd Wright on the cover. As Crane looked at the magazine, Edith said, “…this is who you will go work for.” Crane was skeptical of his mother’s words. But after a number of high school drafting classes, and a short stint in the offices of Richard Requa and William Templeton Johnson (alongside Robert Mosher), he was hopeful. During the summer after he graduated from high school, on August 26, 1940, Edith Crane wrote Frank Lloyd Wright requesting "...information regarding your course of instruction."

Loch and his mother packed up her Model A Ford and left Point Loma to drive to Taliesin West outside of Scottsdale. They arrived in Arizona in March 1941 - Mrs. Crane brandishing a $1,000 check for the fellowship tuition, and the younger Crane armed with completed drawings from William Templeton Johnson’s office. Loch later recalled, “Mother said I came out of the interview, she said I just couldn’t talk…she asked what happened. Did he throw you out or invite you to come back?” Wright accepted him into the Taliesin Fellowship. After returning to Point Loma briefly, Crane began his studies at Taliesin in April to begin the long caravan road trip to Spring Green, Wisconsin for the spring and summer months with Wright and other students. Crane remained unsure if Wright accepted him based on merit and skill, or saw the tuition check as immediately necessary to get his family and apprentices back to Wisconsin.

On May 7, 1941 Edith Crane wrote, “Dear Mr. Wright, Sincere thanks for giving my son, Loch Crane, the great privilege of studying with you. It is the realization of a cherished dream! I know he will be happy in the work & that you will find him conscientious and willing.”

While in Spring Green, Crane was introduced to the woman who would later become his wife. Clare Bloodgood was one of a cadre of a young women invited to Taliesin to work, study and serve as companions for Mr. Wright’s daughter Iovanna. Mrs. Wright played matchmaker with Loch and Clare.

On June 5, 1941 from Spring Green, WI Loch wrote to his father Russel W. Crane, “I am the youngest boy in the fellowship and will acquire a great deal from the friendly atmosphere which I have found. Of the thirty boys there are a great many from architects who have and will continue to help me a great deal. The work here includes building, farming, drawing and I am head mechanic of the fellowship.”

While working in the Taliesin drafting room, news came over the Fisher radio that Pearl Harbor had been bombed. The date was December 7, 1941 and Loch Crane was only months into his fellowship. Despite encouragement from Mr. Wright that his fellows embrace pacifism, Crane and a few others wanted to fight for their country. Crane signed up for the Army Air Corps and terminated his Taliesin fellowship in April 1942. In March, 1942, one month before leaving the fellowship, Loch Crane wrote his father, from Taliesin West, “You must believe me…I have never been happier in my whole life than in the past ten months I have been with the fellowship… I have no doubt that it was the best thing that ever happened to me and I can’t regret a minute of my experience at Taliesin.”

Loch married Clare in 1944 and returned to the Pacific Theater.

Following his service flying B-25 bombers in World War II, Crane stayed in Japan through 1946 teaching ‘twin-engine advanced’ flight classes and overseeing construction efforts as a Major – Director of Installations. While traveling through Kyoto, Nara and Isai, Crane developed a strong understanding of Japanese culture. While off duty, Loch spent his free time photographing, drawing and researching Japanese architecture. Many of the photographs he took would, years later, comprise a slide show for Mr. Wright and the fellowship back at Taliesin West. Crane once said that when he pointed out the red-orange tips of beams extruding from Shinto shrines, Frank Lloyd Wright commented “…even they have copied me…!”

He returned to San Diego in late 1946 and established his first office as a Building Designer. By 1948, he built his first “Expandable Home” on Udall Street in Point Loma – testing the concept for his own family. The concept house was intended to be built in stages – expanding as one’s family grew. What was supposed to start out as a one-bedroom house was expanded immediately as the Crane’s expected the birth of their son.

Loch and Clare Crane on January 6, 1949 in their Expandable House on Udall Street.

His 1957 Autobiographical Sketch within an application for a Sears-Roebuck Foundation Fellowship included, “With a nominal background of architectural apprenticeship I was invited to join Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesin Fellowship in 1941 where I stayed until the outbreak of World War II… As an architectural apprentice to Frank Lloyd Wright, I observed the case of a fine professional planning architect dealing specifically with one individual client, or a selected small group. Here the effort of the architect was toward accomplishing the most for the client at, sometimes, the expense and detriment of the community as a whole. This was due to the prevailing climate of opinion in those days, although Mr. Wright appreciated the importance and necessity of regional planning as evidenced by his preparation of plans and large scale model of a project called ‘Broadacre City’, and his ‘Garden Apartments’. Mr. Wright has created great beauty and functional adaptability to answer the needs of a fortunate few; the more needy masses have all too often been neglected and frustrated… Leaving the Fellowship I entered flight training in the US Army Air Corps … Returning to architecture after discharge in 1946, I served as apprentice to William Templeton Johnson, FAIA, and subsequently opened my own drafting office while preparing for architectural examinations. At the outbreak of the Korean Conflict I was called back to active duty… Following the Korean Conflict, I returned to private practice in San Diego where I subsequently completed projects such as shopping centers… My limited capability became apparent and I thus entered the College of Architecture at USC for the academic background to supplement my practical experience. In three academic years at USC I completed the scope of five year curriculum… I now want to serve the public at a level where I can ‘feel’ the needs and aspirations of the individual yet adapt that same individual into harmonious and mutual advantageous relationships with the larger community…”

Crane began to pick up work immediately as a building designer – building small professional buildings and warehouses for Bob Golden and Gene Trepte, as well as a few homes for private clients. Taking advantage of the GI Bill, Crane crammed a 5-year program of Architecture between 1954-57 and graduated Cum Laude from USC. In addition to his studies, Crane served as a student instructor for Cal Straub.

Russell W. Crane Bachelors Quarters (1948). Photographer Not Known.
Russell W. Crane Bachelors Quarters (1948). Photographer Not Known.

Back in San Diego, he obtained his license to practice architecture. After working alongside Taliesin alum and friend Frederick Liebhardt, Crane established what would become a thriving architecture practice - Loch Crane and Associates, Architect – designing and building a wide array of projects both locally and nationally. Throughout his career, Loch would adapt many of Wright’s forms to his projects, especially the use of the hexagon as a building module.

Flying airplanes, designing buildings and building boats were key ways that defined Crane’s connection with nature. Loch recalled, “building with one’s own hands…” is “…the essence of life.” Understanding the relationship between indoors and outdoors, building something useful, and creating small environments in harmony with the larger environment were the essence of his search for connection and belonging. He believed in ‘doing it yourself’, ‘finding your own way’, and ‘following your own path’. Staying well outside the conventions of AIA meetings and conferences, as well as city politics, Crane offered, “I want to turn to nature for my sense of belonging.”

By 1960, Loch worked from his first office located at 953 Eighth Avenue before opening up Loch Crane and Associates, Architect at 1461 Morena Blvd (now 1465 Morena Blvd) by 1961-62. Other offices for Crane’s practice were located at 1355 Sixth Avenue and 3055 India Street.

Partial List of Projects

Academic Training Building, FAAWTC

Ackerman Center
Point Loma

Aero Office Park
Kearny Mesa

Airport Environment Regional Offices

Alpha Tau Omega - Remodel

52nd and Orange

Apostolic Faith Temple
138 28th Street

Armstrong Nursery

Arts and Crafts Press Building (1957)

Camp Pendelton, PCE

Bay Bridge Community Center

Beach Riviera Apartments

Big Apple Stores, Inc.

Bonanza Sirloin Pit
Locations in Chula Vista, El Cajon,

Boy Scout Sea Base

Bulk Fuel System Equipment Maintenance and Storage PCE

B.W. Collins Distribution

Cafeteria Remodel
North Island

Calexico Market

Carringer, Residence for Mr. & Mrs. L.L. (1950)
825 Harbor View Place

Cervantes Elderly Housing

C.H. Tripp Paint & Finish

Chula Vista Garden Apartments

Cobbs Optometrist
Ocean Beach

Colony Kitchen Restaurant Chain (ca. 1966)
Bakersfield, Chula Vista, Encinitas, El Cajon, La Jolla, San Luis Obispo and Victorville

Combat Vehicle Maintenance
Camp Pendelton PCB

Commissary Store Remodel
North Island

Control Data

Corona Winery

Crane Duplex
Imperial Beach

Crane, Loch Residence I (1948)
3411 Udall Street

Loch Crane returned to San Diego, and to his wife Clare, in late 1946. By 1948 the young architect built his first Expandable Home on Udall Street in Point Loma. The project, which he began conceptualizing while with Mr. Wright, was intended to be built in stages, expanding as the client’s family grew. On several occasions, Loch Crane stated that he started designing his Expandable Home concept with Mr. Wright. The first Expandable Home was for himself and wife Clare (Clara). During his last months at Taliesin, Loch wrote his father, “I am making working drawings of the house I designed…and my work seems to improve so that every time I draw a different part of the house I am dissatisfied with the preceding drawings and have to start all over again.” In the spirit of his Taliesin apprenticeship, the home was to be built “from materials & techniques desired by the owner & indigenous to the location. The home must be a center of close companionship & activity, an environment rather than a shelter.”

Crane Residence III (1962). Photograph by George Lyons.

Crane, Loch Residence II (1951)
3330 Poe Street

Crane, Loch Residence III (1962)
5950 Avenida Chamnez
Loch Crane heartily leveraged the hexagonal building module in his third residence for his family and its surrounding landscape. In 2009, he stated that the use of the hexagon was, “…a measure to ensure openness of the interior and allow for different activities within the interior space.”

Crane, Russell W. Bachelors Quarters (1948)
3344 Poe Street
*Designed in 1948, built in 1949 and published in The Chronicle (7/11/50).
**Additions in 1965

Crises Center - Remodel

Data Processing
Camp Pendelton

Dean Van Lines, Main Warehouse

Delta Manor Apartments

Dental Services, Naval Hospital

Dielectric Systems

Ding Dong Dairy Products

Dixon, Ray Residence
Point Loma

Dorman Tire Sales (2 locations)

Episcopal Church
Imperial Beach

Episcopal Community Services Building

Evans Auto Parts

Fellowship Hall for George Walker Smith

Fillius, Milton Residence (1952)
3336 Poe Street

Gamma Phi Beta - Additions and Remodeling

Gibbs Flying Service Office Building

Golden Hill Church Auxiliary Building

Gough Industries Supply

Grant Heights Apartments

Hancock Industries Factory

Hayes, Buzz & Rusty Residence (1955)
First Street, Imperial Beach

Hayes Medical Building
Imperial Beach

Hoffman, Louis & Barbara Residence (1955)
3939 Bandini

Holter, Norman J. and Joan Residence (1963-64)
2444 Ellentown Road
*Dated 8/30/63, the original plans state "La Jolla Residence for Mr. & Mrs. Norman J. Holter" by Loch Crane & Assoc. AIA when their office was at 1461 Morena Blvd. Drawings for 'Study & Carport Additions to Residence for Dr. & Mrs. Jonas E. Salk' were executed following the Salk's purchase of the Holter Residence.

House Beautiful's "House for 75 Women" (1963)

House Beautiful's "House for 75 Women" (1963)
1475 Berenda Place
*Following construction and publication of ‘The House Designed by 75 Women’ was held open to the public. The widely visited structure made an impact on local designers, young homemakers and those yearning for progressive housing design. The model house, designed in conjunction with Jane Chapman’s Adult Education Program of the San Diego City Schools, became a phenomenon and ended up being replicated across the U.S. According to Crane’s own resume, he counted 160 of these built from plans clients ordered through House Beautiful. According to Loch’s resume he built 160 examples of these homes.

Housing Administration Office Remodel

Imperial Beach Lifeguard Stations

Impulse Products Corporation
3337 Industrial Court

India Street Office Building

Industrial Developers/Loch Crane Office Building (1965). Photo by George Lyons.

Industrial Developers/Loch Crane Office Building (1965)
3344 Industrial Court
*Also included later remodeling and additions

Kentucky Kitchen Restaurant & Warehouse

Koehler Marine

Kuchenbecker Trailer Sales

La Jolla Racquet Club Apartments (1965)
2600 Torrey Pines Road

LeClaire Residence
La Jolla

Logan Avenue Recreation Facility

McBride Warehouse

Point Loma

Moore, Kimball H. Residence (1952)
919 Pacific Beach Drive

Mountain View Community Facility

Ninteman Office Building

O'Laughlin, John F. Residence (1962)
5972 Avenida Chamnez

Pacific Beach Jr. High School - New Buildings

Peskin Dental Clinic
La Mesa

William L. Phillips Residence (1961). Maynard L. Parker, photographer. Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
William L. Phillips Residence (1961). Maynard L. Parker, photographer. Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.
William L. Phillips Residence (1961)Maynard L. Parker, photographer. Courtesy of The Huntington Library, San Marino, California.

Phillips, William L. Residence (1961)
448 San Gorgonio Street
*Jane Jones Jopling, Interior Designer

Plaza Medical
Huntington Beach

Polak Parkway Center
La Mesa

Private Residence
2552 Carmel Valley Road

Private Residence (1956)
4516 Lucille Drive
Attribution by Listing Agent

Quince Terrace Apartments

Recruit Exchange Complex

Rehabilitation, Staff Mess Hall

Rideout Produce and Food industries

Roper, Cecil and Virginia Residence (1964)
5147 Cape May Avenue

Rose, Mary Edna Residence (1957)
819 First Street, Coronado

Rowing Club

R.W. Smith & Co. Office & Display

San Diego County Adoption Center (1969)
Kearney Mesa

San Diego Veterans Affairs Clinic

San Marcos Buy & Save Offices

San Marcos Buy & Save Offices

San Ysidro Community Facility

Sears Roebuck Main Warehouse

Security First National Bank Locations
Alpine, Lakeside

Security Pacific Bank - Addition

Service Station Facilities

Singing Hills 60-unit Motel

Singing Hills Pro Shop

Singing Hills Motel & Additional Motels

Singing Hills Restaurant Addition

Snowflake Bakery Distribution

Solomon House
Imperial Beach

Sorrento Commercial Facility

Sorrento Court

Sorrento Impulse Products

Sorrento Industries, Building #1

Sorrento Services Auto and Paint

Sorrento Square

Sorrento Tower

Southeast Terrace Apartments

Southwest Motor Sales & Service

Starkey, Skip Residence (1951)
3321 Poe Street

St. Anne’s Catholic School

St. Elizabeth’s Episcopal - Reconstruction, Classroom Additions

St. Mary’s Episcopal

St. Matthews Episcopal Church (1967)

Time Savings & Loan
Rosecrans Branch

Tussey, Chet Residence (1965)
5724 Dolphin Place

United Auto Body

US Air Force Church

US Navy Family Housing Alterations

Vista Terrace Park & Swimming Pool

Vulcan Square Shopping Center (1961)

Western Salt Plant

Westminster Presbyterian Church

Wilshire Stores
Bird Rock

YMCA ‘A’ Frames

Young, M.A. Residence (1960)
633 Kalamath

Circa 1941 at Taliesin - (L-R) Ted Bower, Loch Crane, Ricardo de Bery Tornquist, Chic-Ngai Chow.

SOLD: Russell Crane House by Loch Crane (1949)

3344 Poe St San Diego, CA, 92106 3 Bed 2 Bath $877,000