Best of 2001: Best California-Style House/Office In San Diego

Lloyd Ruooco's 1950 Design Center
Fifth Avenue, north of Brookes Street, near Hillcrest

It's hard to believe this glass-dominated redwood and cedar complex is 50 years old. Certainly it has been restored and rebuilt after a fire in the late 1980s, but exactly to the plan the original architect, Lloyd Ruocco, drew to capture the California spirit of openness and casualness and lack of pretension. Today we take the flat roofs, floor-to-ceiling glass, open-plan interior, decks out over the canyon, sliding glass doors, inside-outside living, and that certain insouciance of design for granted. Back then, it was a revolution called California Modernism. Check out the second building, which seems to "float" above the canyon, and the "flying saucer," a portholed disk on legs where you go to spawn brilliant ideas of your own.

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