Preserving La Jolla’s Historic Architecture while Moving into the Future

While San Diego isn’t particularly well known for its distinctive architecture, La Jolla is home to some incredible examples of both classic and modernist buildings. In addition, the Village of La Jolla contains pockets of historic homes that have survived the overall expansion and subdivision of the neighborhood and region.

Notable structures here include the La Jolla Women’s Club, designed by one of the preeminent Modernist architects, Irving Gill, and the historic Spanish-School style La Valencia hotel, long an icon on La Jolla’s oceanfront. Up on the hill, La Jolla Mesa houses the iconic Salk Institute and the Geisel Library at UCSD, two incredible buildings with forward-thinking, almost futuristic designs.

On the residential front, La Jolla is home to is the historic Camino de la Costa, a street that boasts magnificent yet understated homes, most of which are thoroughly modern, yet borrow heavily from San Diego’s past.

Looking to the future, many local people worry that new development and evolving technology will cost La Jolla some of the charm that makes this one of the country’s most prestigious neighborhoods. But while this fear exists whenever, and wherever, a community deals with change, La Jolla has a history of effectively adapting to the latest trends and styles.

Just look at our history: La Jolla’s homebuilders originally drew from the Spanish Colonial style and mission architecture, building with stucco, wood columns and red tile roofs. Local architects also borrowed the hacienda style from Mexico, and these two styles dominated even into the 20th century.

Then, from the mid-1800s until the turn of the 20th century, Victorian-style homes proliferated, before metamorphosing into La Jolla’s vibrant arts and crafts movement, during which craftsman-style homes became all the rage. In turn, this style gave way — evolved — into smaller versions of craftsmen homes, beach bungalows, creating an image that possibly has defined La Jolla architecture more than any other.

Building on La Jolla’s beach-chic aesthetic, the neighborhood saw a boom in Mid-Century Modern architecture in the 1950s, 60s and 70s, a style that once again developed the look of the community. Today, somehow, all of these eclectic styles coexist, with some borrowing from the others. Even La Jolla’s newest and grandest mansions now incorporate much of the look of the old styles, quietly hiding practical, modern features under the glamor and style of more classic architecture.

Of course, technology is always changing the way we build, and the debate over local architecture in the future will be about more than just arches versus straight lines. Most homes are now being built with sustainability, green building and technology at the core of the project, transitioning La Jolla into a new architectural phase with eco-consciousness as the guiding philosophy.

Not so sure? Even homeowners who are skeptical or hesitant about smart homes likely already have smart appliances, or utilize their smart devices, such as tablets, to operate their entertainment systems, HVAC or security systems.

San Diego, especially La Jolla, has always adapted to blend new designs with traditional ones. The very concept of “traditional” La Jolla architecture has always involved adaptability. In order to appeal to the public, architects and designers will have to continue to appeal to new tastes while retaining and protecting buildings that fall under historical preservation. And, as has been the case throughout La Jolla’s rich history, some of the best breakthroughs in style and function come from blending competing needs.

With La Jolla’s storied past in stellar and forward-looking architectural designs, the charm and beauty of the Jewel will remain constantly evolving, and always exciting.

At GDC Construction, we have a long tradition of preserving and renovating San Diego’s storied past. And we’re experts in blending that rich past with the very latest in modern design, technology and comfort. Let us help you make the balance between the past and the future on your next construction or renovation project. Visit us at www.gdcconstruction, or come see us at GDC Construction, 1031 Silverado Street, La Jolla, CA 92037 858-551-5222.