Architecture/design/art in San Diego and up the coast...
July 5, 2021 4:22 PM   Subscribe

I'm heading on a roadtrip up the California coast with San Diego as the first destination. What modern architecture, design or art stuff should I see?

I'm leaving tomorrow from Phoenix with very little planned other than escaping the heat. San Diego is the first stop and the one I know the least about, then I'll head North but probably skipping the Bay Area (was there recently). I like finding interesting architecture, design, art, etc., especially lesser known stuff. The best way I know to describe what I want to see are some examples from other cities...

Phoenix (where I'm from): Cosanti/Arcosanti
New York: Noguchi museum
Los Angeles: RM Schindler's Kings Road house
Seattle: Freeway Park, Pacific Bonsai Museum / Weyerhaeuser campus

What I already know about:
Del Mar antique show
Modern vintage furniture stores
The big name architects: FLW, Neutra, Schindler, etc.
posted by mullacc to Travel & Transportation around California (11 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
Best answer: I like the Eames' house in Pacific Palisades, but it looks like it's temporarily closed, alas. Wayfarers Chapel near LA is cool.
posted by pinochiette at 4:46 PM on July 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

On the north coast, Sea Ranch - much of it is on private land but the chapel is open to the public and there may be architectural tours.
posted by muddgirl at 4:47 PM on July 5, 2021

Consider a visit to the Hotel Del Coronado. It's a lovely place to just walk around. (And, yes, Some Like It Hot was filmed in part at the Hotel Del.)
posted by SPrintF at 6:13 PM on July 5, 2021

Best answer: Niki de Saint-Phalle is a sculptor whose pieces are all over San Diego, including Waterfront Park, Liberty Station, UCSD, and a big installation in a cool park a little further north. Going more towards LA, it's always surprising that more people are unaware of the charming Noguchi plaza in Costa Mesa. (The OCMA nearby houses astonishingly high quality exhibits of local artists, but its website suggests it is closed.)
posted by BlueBlueElectricBlue at 6:27 PM on July 5, 2021

Best answer: The Salk Institute

The Geisel Library at UCSD

San Diego Public Library downtown (and the special collections center on 9th floor is lovely)

Santa Fe Depot (train station)

The Marston House

The mushroom house on Black's Beach

There are cool galleries and murals in Barrio Logan (and stop by Cafe Moto)

And not SD, but if you get to Carmel by the Sea, look for the Fairytale houses.

Have fun! California is such a dream.
posted by namemeansgazelle at 6:29 PM on July 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: San Diego's Salk Institute; Geisel (UC campus) and Central libraries; other resources. (Please check site accessibility, given the pandemic - for instance, Salk is closed to visitors right now, and offers a virtual tour instead.)
posted by Iris Gambol at 6:33 PM on July 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Best answer: Geisel Library is closed to visitors until mid-September, though it's far more striking from the outside anyway. The UCSD campus has strange art scattered all over; the Stuart Collection is the most high profile, but there are other pieces as well.
posted by kite at 9:49 PM on July 5, 2021

Best answer: You can go on a San Diego treasure hunt for Irving Gill's innovative tilt-slab buildings, and tour the civic-owned Clarke Estate when you get to the Los Angeles area.

Neutra's Lovell Health House is on the market, and being used as a vintage furniture showroom, which is a rare opportunity to explore the interior.
posted by Scram at 11:05 PM on July 5, 2021 [1 favorite]

Don't forget Eichler homes. As pointed out in the wiki entry, there are entire neighborhoods of his buildings you can drive through in true Californian fashion.

Gill's Horatio West Court in Santa Monica is one of my favorite set of condos I've ever seen. I came close to being able to rent one back 15 or so years ago. I had no money, and with my partner at the time we almost bit the bullet anyway. We would have spent 99% of our income on rent, so it would have been a painfully lean experience, but god the spaces are just so serenely beautiful. If they're having an open house for one of the units when you pass through LA, stop in!
posted by late afternoon dreaming hotel at 6:06 AM on July 6, 2021

Best answer: I love San Diego but really don't have a sense of what would tickle your fancy, many others have made terrific suggestions already. But check out the Orchids & Onions nominees list for current architectural items of note. I heartily second Queen Califa's Magical Circle up in Escondido. It's a wonder it exists, and even better that after being closed for the entirety of Covid quarantine it is open again with what seems like expanded hours!

L.A. includes several of my favorite bookstores, and I feel like your architecture jones prompts me to mention Hennessey + Ingalls - they have moved around over the years but they've been an excellent bookstore for decades. (It's featured and mentioned in the movie Heat, De Niro's love interest works there). I also think Los Angeles Central Library is worth a visit. Enjoy!
posted by artlung at 6:26 AM on July 6, 2021 [2 favorites]

Best answer: Darren Bradley wrote a guidebook for Phaidon on West Coast Midcentury Modern - he's a local architectural photographer and for that time period is definitely an authority.
If you're stopping by the Salk go a bit South and check out the Scripps Institution of Oceanography for works by Irving Gill and Julian Morgan among others. UCSD also has a great sculpture walk - the Stuart Collection - that goes by some of their great buildings such as the library.
posted by q*ben at 11:37 AM on July 6, 2021

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