San Diego, CA

San Diego, CA

By Aaron Britt
Nestled on the Pacific coastline, between Los Angeles’s sprawl and the Mexican border, San Diego is a surprisingly design-forward town with a handful of modern masterpieces to prove it.

Architecturally speaking, San Diego is home to one of the crown jewels of the modernist canon: Louis Kahn’s majestic Salk Institute for Biological Studies. It would be easy to view the rest of the seaside city as an ode to adobe, aircraft carriers, and staying way chilled out, but its design scene, if small, is vibrant. Surely Kahn’s poem in concrete and sunlight deserves serious attention, but it’s the local design legends—like protomodernist Irving Gill, elder statesmen Ted Smith and Kendrick Kellogg, and a roster of young high-flyers such as Sebastian Mariscal, Jennifer Luce, Lloyd Russell, and Chris Puzio—who are responsible for the warp and weft of the city’s rich modernist fabric. It must be said, however, that this burg is still enthralled by all things Spanish colonial (both original and recent), but the principles of modern design are as vital as ever. We asked architect Aaron Anderson, one of the energetic new crop of San Diego designers, to show us around his hometown.

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