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10 Questions for Mark Steele, Architect

A native of Cincinnati, Ohio, and a graduate of the University of Kentucky, Mark Steele moved to La Jolla in 1978. As an architect, he worked with Dale Naegle Associates in La Jolla Shores until 1983 when he founded his own planning and architectural firm, the MW Steele Group.

Mark married Dale Fitzmorris in 1983, and they ran the business together and raised their daughter Harper. They have lived in La Jolla Shores, transforming their small house into the San Diego Home Garden magazine Home of the Year in 1989.

Mark has been the chairman of the La Jolla Shores Association, president of the la Jolla Town Council and a member of the La Jolla Shores Planned District Advisory Board. He has also served as chairman of the city of San Diego Planning Commission, president of the San Diego Chapter of the American Institute of Architects and president of Lambda Alpha International.

Recent architectural projects by the MW Steele Group include Seahaus, White Sands of La Jolla expansion and Adat Yeshurun synagogue.
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What brought you to La Jolla?

I came to La Jolla in 1978 after living in Detroit for 13 years and watching the city deteriorate.

After scouring the country for the best place to live with the most promising future, San Diego shot to the top of the list.

The amazing introduction to San Diego when you arrive by plane and get your first view across the bay really caught my attention though. The gentle hills and openness of the residents reminded my of my roots in the Midwest.

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What makes La Jolla special to you?

Its natural beauty and man-made character top the list. The wonderful institutions nearby and the amazing people we all count as neighbors are unique and indeed quite special.

I’ve never taken La Jolla for granted. When I drive down the grade on La Jolla Shores Drive, looking out over the bay, I still marvel at my great fortune to have lived here for 30 years.

If you could snap your fingers and have it done, what might you add, subtract or improve in La Jolla?

I would subtract the mean-spirited personal attacks on people when they disagree. I would return La Jolla to the period when people could disagree with one another over changes in the community and come to a solution in a civil manner, maintaining respect and friendships.

Who or what inspires you?

Whenever I’m on the UCSD campus I’m inspired by the brilliance and accomplishments of the students and faculty alike.

Along with UCSD, the Salk and Neuroscience Institutes along with the La Jolla Playhouse are truly inspirational.

If you hosted a dinner party for eight, who (living or deceased) would you invite?

Margaret Thatcher

Dr. Seuss

Nina Simone

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Dave Brubeck

Katherine Hepburn

Frank Gehry

Dalai Lama

Jon Stewart (I need a bigger dining table.)

Tell us about what you are currently reading.

Playing for Pizza by John Grisham; Lamb by Christopher Moore.

What is your most prized possession?

Our dogs.

What do you do for fun?

Travel in a variety of ways and venues ... great cities and mother earth.
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Please describe your greatest accomplishment.

I’m still waiting for it.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Do good things and be thankful for the opportunity.