I launched my fledgling graphic design company in 1972 and moved the following year from my home office into this early 1904 architectural charmer originally designed by the highly respected architect, Irving Gill. More on Gill: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Irving_Gill.
If it wasn’t for Phil Kaplan, I would have never found this delightful place. Phil had a graphic design office in the front and introduced me to Robert Donald Ferris, an architect and owner of the building. Bob also had an office in the front and offered me a space next to the back courtyard. Phil, who was originally art director for Playboy Books in Chicago, was offered another great position at Architectural Digest Magazine, and moved out of his space a year or so later. I then took over his space and ran CWA Inc. from almost half the building.
Up until 1979, we enjoyed the beauty and serenity of this hidden piece of our Shangri-la. It was great doing my tai-chi chuan in the courtyard after work, sipping wine with friends under the swaying bamboo, and just enjoying nature in an intimate way.
I was not aware of Irving Gill until a few months later. But like an incarnate, my appreciation and application of “nature in design” seemed to coincide with Gill’s approach to architecture. Gill, who moved west for health reasons, may have been on a quest for an alternative architectural environment. According to Joseph Giovannini, “the desire for an easily maintained, sanitary home drove Gill’s aesthetic toward purity.”
This experience eventually inspired me to buy and move my staff into a 1912 Craftsman building in Bankers Hill. With much remorse, we left this Gill treasure for Bob to expand fully into the space. Bob was president of the San Diego Historical Society then and did much to establish Heritage Park in Old Town. Phil went on to become vice-president of Alfred A. Knopf Publishing in New York City. There are so many wonderful stories and experiences that proliferate here and to recount once again with all of you.
I just happened to visit these ole nostalgic haunts a few weeks ago with a friend and discovered a “For Sale” sign on the Gill property. It got my heart racing again. But in this economy, money’s tight, and unless I sell off something, I can’t do it alone. If any of you out there would like to conjure up an idea to make this cute ‘lil bit of San Diego heritage our pinnacle for design experimentation and innovation again, we’ll certainly do deserved homage to Irving Gill. And, just in time for Balboa Park’s centennial celebration in 2015.