san luis obispo

I’m in California today to review projects and give an in-class lecture at Cal Poly.  Structures and pedagogy guru Kevin Dong is my host–we go back a ways having worked on a major project together in the 1990s and then subsequently entered academia at about the same time.  I’ve made periodic trips out here with studios or to lecture, and he’s returned the favor.  We have to organize things according to weather, of course.

And the weather here is almost always spectacular, which made this morning’s run particularly happy.  I headed up into Poly Canyon, which is the traditional site for an annual design-build project.  Some of these are really spectacular, but there’s one that has genuine historic interest.  The rusting hulk spanning that arroyo is the closest that Craig Ellwood came to building his breathtakingly purist Vacation House, which exists mostly in a well-known rendering.  In the early 1970s he led a group of students in building a version of it–less pure, obviously, but still a typically powerful statement of structure and domesticity.  And, of course, a precursor to his Pasadena Art and Design College, which does the same trick on an unbelievably larger scale.

The pavilion isn’t in great shape, and I keep thinking a small awareness and fund-raising campaign wouldn’t be out of order.  This is one of those monuments that is off the radar for most folks, and it’s a moment of late-modernist structural exuberance that deserves a bit of recognition.  The fact that it’s at the top of a half-mile hill also makes it a good spot to take a running break.  Literally breathtaking.

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