La Jolla architect to talk about style vs. regulation

By Dave Schwab

La Jolla architect Laura DuCharme Conboy will discuss whether good architecture can be regulated during a slideshow at 7 p.m. Oct. 27 at Wisteria Cottage, 780 Prospect St.

“My presentation will review the different regulations and ask if all these regulations we encase ourselves in help or hinder good design,” DuCharme said. Her speech is the ninth in the 10-lecture series, “Contemporary Architects Making History,” presented by the La Jolla Historical Society.

A 1981 graduate of Arizona State University, she was mentored by La Jolla architects Dale Neagle and Mark Steele before going independent with DuCharme Architecture in 1992.

Because she works with regulations for clients, as well as reviewing development projects for code compliance as a member of the La Jolla Community Planning Association and La Jolla Development Permit Review Committee, DuCharme considers herself doubly qualified to evaluate regulations and their impact.

“I have to apply them, and see how they’re applied by others,” she said.

Noting building regulations can be both good and bad, DuCharme added that the real litmus test is “how well it works over time.”

Primarily a residential architect, her award-winning work has been featured in publications locally and nationally.

The Jewel’s architectural diversity is distinguishing, said DuCharme, because the older neighborhoods feature a plethora of housing styles; more modern subdivisions are homogenous.

“If you dictate (style) too much, then you don’t get the variety, charm and serendipity, the nice surprises where you see a craftsman-style home, then turn a corner and see a mid-century or a modern home,” she said.

The trick, said DuCharme, is to strike the proper balance where unity combines with diversity to produce a look that is different, but not chaotic.

DuCharme said her architecture doesn’t have a “signature style.” She designs “for what the clients are looking for and how it fits into the neighborhood.” Besides, she added, working with different styles of homes is more fun — and adventurous.

The final speaker in the series will be James Alcorn, who will discuss saving historical buildings and giving them new life on Dec. 15.