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Architecture & Summer in San Diego

Architecture & Summer in San Diego

August, 2005: What I did on my summer vacation. In my opinion, there’s TRAVEL and there’s VACATION. Travel involves something new and a lot of activity, but for me to have a vacation; it must include down-time, books and water, preferably a beach. For years, like most of Arizona, our family descends upon San Diego County for a summer respite. We have a favorite North County haunt that we no longer share with others because, frankly as it’s been said; “I vant to be alone!”.

As I leave the day-to-day of work behind, inevitably, I’m drawn back to Architecture. Obviously, exploring architecture is never work for me and this year, I thought that I’d share some of what we love here with others.

Much like Phoenix, San Diego has architectural roots that are often overlooked by those who have not spent much time here. There is a wealth of diverse and remarkable buildings, including some really remarkable examples of Spanish Colonial Revival (Let’s not forget Balboa Park and the Pan-American Exposition, that did more to spread red tile roofs in Arizona and California than Father Kino), and the entire covenant portion of Ranch Santa Fe is superb and remarkable, thank you Pioneer American Architect Lillian Rice.

The Post-War boom hit here too, so there’s great examples of Modern Architecture and a solid Modern ethic that remains to this day. There are several Neutra houses, great designs by case-study names and of course Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute is really a magic place.

If you make it this far north, keep going and check out the Solana Beach Train Station, by Rob Wellington Quigley ( Check out the movie… It’s a superb work that is completely modern, yet plays well and echoes the Quonset hut roots of the nearby Cedros Design District. Check out Susan Street Fine Art located in same and include a stop at Zinc Café on Cedros.

If Phoenix really goes for Transit Centers this nice, we all in for a treat and might find people actually will ride the train into Downtown.

I love a real bookstore and you can do no better than BOOKWORKS in Solana Beach/Del Mar. They have a great selection of Design and Architecture books, and the owner lays in some nice vintage jewelry, art and object finds too. PANNIKIN COFFEE & TEA is right next door for coffee. (Both located in the Flower Hill Mall, 2670 Via de la Valle) What more could I ask for?

I especially like what is happening in Little Italy. Maybe the locals may not like all the attention and construction, but it has been a remarkable transformation. I love to spend time there and highly recommend Architectural Salvage for everything eclectic and Boomerang for Modern is the real deal for sure. Zuccaro has the best Cannoli I have ever had (“leave the gun, take the Cannoli”)! All are on India Street .

The dynamic aspect of this is that we are in line for something similar for Downtown Phoenix. If you want a nice preview of our potential future, spend a day down here and you get a glimpse of what could happen at home if we decide to get it right.

Housing options in this area are superb and innovative with designs from a great group of architectural talent, notably, Smith and Others . Jonathan Segal and Rob Quigley. Get a look at the LIND project , one of the first developments in Little Italy that spearheaded the transformation, . This project includes a collection of several buildings and open public spaces. I’m partial to Ted Smith’s Merrimac Building , I think for me it’s the light inside and the play of materials (see the other photo posted).

You can buy a loft-like condo in this area and compared to La Jolla, it’s down right affordable. Considering the ease to the harbor (oh, the Star of India!), the Airport (You can’t miss it with the Jets screaming overhead!), and a short drive to some of the best beaches this side if the Riviera, not a bad deal. Compare the prices to anything here and now you get what is driving our Market!

Hope you had a great summer; see you back in the heat!

Scott Jarson