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Trip Bennett has designs on making life better for all

F.H. “Trip” Bennett III was born, raised and educated in Texas. His nickname was awarded him as the third (triple) with the same namesake, following his grandfather and father. In 1975, he graduated from Texas Tech University with a bachelor’s degree in architecture and married Alice, his wife of now 34 years.

After graduation, the couple began their family of two children and became somewhat nomadic, spending eight years working for a variety of architectural firms in Texas and New Mexico.

In 1983, Bennett established a firm in San Antonio with two partners, Bennett, Lewis & Garcia. His company did adaptive renovation/restoration of historic structures and custom single-family residences. Due to an economic downturn in Texas in the late ‘80s, Bennett closed the practice and moved his family to San Diego in 1989.

From 1989 to 1999, Bennett worked with La Jolla’s Dewhurst & Associates Construction Co. and created an in-house design department. In 1999, he established his own practice in La Jolla, and for the last 10 years has been designing custom homes. His award-winning work has been featured in many publications.

Bennett received the 10 News Leadership Award for championing the community effort to renovate Fire Station 13, and was awarded “Outstanding Rotarian of the Year” by the La Jolla Sunrise Rotary Club.

He is a founding board member of Ballet Arte Dance Theatre, serves as vice president on the La Jolla Historical Society board of directors, and was chairman of last weekend’s 2010 La Jolla Motor Car Classic.

What brought you to La Jolla?

In the late 1980s, I had a modestly successful architectural practice in San Antonio when the economic bottom fell out in all the oil-producing states through the Southwest. After I closed down what little practice I had left, I (with my family) relocated to San Diego in 1989. I was fortunate to find employment with Dewhurst & Associates here in La Jolla, and remain very proud of starting up an in-house design department within their well-established construction company. In 1999, after 10 years with Dewhurst, I again started my own practice (now called Bennett + Associates). For the last 10 years, I’ve been very fortunate to work primarily here in La Jolla on some amazing projects with equally amazing clientele.

What makes this town special to you?

It’s the natural beauty, charm, scale of the community and the high level of community activism to maintain those attributes.

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

I would like to change the “conversation” on the preservation of historic structures from “have to” to “want to.”

Who or what inspires you?

Anyone who “gives back” with no expectation of anything in return.

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

Luis Barragan (architect deceased), Andrea Palladio (architect deceased), retired Gen. “Stormin” Norman Schwarz-kopf, Col. Clifford Palmer Bradley (my grandfather killed in World War II), Winston Churchill, Walter H. Munk (Scripps Institution of Oceanography), Muddy Waters (with his guitar) and Dion (present day with his acoustical guitar).

Tell us about what you are currently reading.

“Act of Treason.”

What is your most-prized possession?

My new Martin Guitar, recently given to me by my wife.

What do you do for fun?

Sailing ... and listening to and attempting to play and sing music.

Please describe your greatest accomplishment.

Personally: The raising of our two children into two beautiful and incredible adults.

Professionally: The recent renovation/expansion of La Jolla’s Fire Station 13 on Nautilus. I organized and worked with my Rotary Club (La Jolla Sunrise Rotary), many area building contractors and hundreds of residents to transform the outdated, undersized, dismal facility into one of best facilities in the Fire and Rescue Department. In 18 months, we were able to raise the funds and renovate the facility — all with private funds and like-in-kind donations from within the community.

What is your motto or philosophy of life?

Keep it simple, make it fun.