|Most significant work of San Diego architecture? The panel of architects in 2002|
selected Salk Institute in La Jolla by Louis I. Kahn (constructed 1959-1966)
Editor’s note: An abridged version of this article appeared in the January, 2002 edition of San Diego Magazine.
Text By Thomas Shess
Part One/Mid Century
Community Concourse are perfect examples of the design disasters of the
period. On the plus side, there are many smaller works done by local architects of that era that are outstanding examples of that period. Such designers represent this work as Bob Mosher, Hal Sadler, Ward Deems, Homer Delewie, the office of Frank Hope, Sim Bruce Richards and Lloyd Ruocco. At that time corporate interests usually went to out of town big firms for their buildings. But the locals established a body of work and firms that were the training ground for many of today's practitioners.
Consensus: Easier then than now. For better or worse, elected officials are influenced more by the districts they represent, therefore they take the safest route to arriving at architectural decisions, especially in San Diego where the City Council also acts and votes as the planning agency. Ward Deems answer was consistent with the majority: “It was seldom easy to work with government agencies then but it got worse. The advantage of that era was that the scope of regulations had far less impact on planning and architecture than is now the case. The overwhelming proliferation of regulatory codes and issues now insert a huge number of agencies, groups and individuals into the process which permits others, often without portfolio, to plan and design projects other than the design professional. In addition, the cost and time required in seeing the process to completion has become excessive.”
* All steel structure - Reduced weight enabling buildings to rise taller.
* Colored and reflective glass have provided an ever increasing palette for architects.
* Insulated/Reflective Glass - Providing improved energy performance and interior comfort. Also helping allow, in combination with improved HVAC, the construction of more efficient large commercial buildings in the hotter, inland areas of San Diego.
* Improvements in light gauge and heavy steel structural materials
* GFRC, Glass Fiber Reinforced Concrete, which is low volume and very light, was first introduced in the late seventies, (B of A Building). Low weight means lower structural costs and easier erection.
* Pre-cast concrete forming and other manufacturing method improvement have helped provide lower cost structures.
* Mechanical Systems were improved significantly during this period lowering costs and making many larger building feasible which would not have been before
* More energy efficient Electrical lighting
Allen: San Diego Stadium. It won a national AIA award. And, it is still a beautiful and functional stadium today. I also must add to the list the Cashman Stadium and Convention Center project in Las Vegas and I consider one of the significant highlights of my career to be able to work with Qualcomm founder Irwin Jacobs, when he was with Linkabit. “I’ve never had a such a dynamic client as Jacobs. I’m still proud of the Linkabit project—now at 3033 Science Park Drive in north city.
Torrey Pines High School/Del Mar. This school set a standard for the planning and design of Sr. High Schools in San Diego County. It was designed as a secure "enclosed campus" during times of unrest but did not appear to be a "prison". It also pioneered the concept of open study spaces in circulation areas immediately adjacent to classrooms, as well as outdoor study areas. The new concept of a centralized Media Center was introduced with this design. This project won several awards as well as being built under the then current State cost standards. San Diego Federal Tower/6th and 'B' Street. The first downtown high rise office structure which was designed with extensive setbacks from its street property lines thereby creating a public gathering place (Plaza) for retail and entertainment activities. It also pioneered the concept of curb lane access to the subterranean parking structure thus overcoming the inefficient ancient (Alonzo) Horton Block dimensions and separating the vehicles from pedestrians. Furthermore, the exterior cladding was the first to use lightweight cemesto panels with epoxy- applied exposed aggregate in lieu of concrete therein significantly reducing the amount of structural framing steel required.
Part Two/Issues Today (2002)
Q: What is the architectural period of today what are your thoughts?
Part Three/Looking Ahead
In the future I’d like to see a new airport. and a series of high density housing around transit nodes to alleviate parking in urban areas.