La Jolla Architecture

March 22, 2012 / by / In

The beautiful area La Jolla is one of San Diego’s more well-known and upscale neighborhoods. With its unique shops, divine eateries and beautiful coastal views, La Jolla has become widely popular for its cozy, yet classy nature.

La Jolla’s humble roots began as any Southern California beach town, with individual land lots that housed speculators taking up residence for the gold rush. Many of La Jolla’s original lot owners went on to turn a pretty penny selling off these lots in later years. Here and there you can find some of the original beach bungalows of La Jolla still standing, and some of these areas retain older, more humble homes sitting on highly valuable land plots.

Much of La Jolla follows the Ranch and Spanish Mediterranean style of home architecture, with condos taking on a neo-Italian Tuscan style. There is only one high-rise in La Jolla, built right before the height limit went into effect in the 1970s. This limit has given way to a more collected feel, creating an intimate environment despite the high value of the homes found here.

la jolla architectureThe grand hotels of La Jolla include Spanish Colonial gems such as the La Valencia and the Grande Colonial, La Jolla’s oldest hotel where the first sprinkler system west of the Mississippi can be found. A smaller throwback to the area’s roots comes in the form of the unassuming Redwood Hollow craftsman garden guest cottages.

One very notable home in La Jolla owes its existence to Jonathan Segal. Known for his modern architecture, Segal created The Prospect House, and went on to live within its walls. This home was built with an on-site architecture studio, and incorporates steel wall planes and a glass floor in the main living area. The open floor plan also extends the main area into a garden and reflecting pool. Cited as a highlight in many architectural reviews, this home is a very notable piece of La Jolla’s modern architectural history.

Another important piece of architecture in La Jolla is the Salk Institute. This institute was established by Jonas Salk, M.D. (the developer of the polio vaccine) in the 1960s. The architecture of the structure was designed by famous architect Louis I. Kahn. This Salk Institute is made of two separate mirror-image six-story structures that surround a courtyard. The west end of this building holds six amazing offices that have gorgeous views of the ocean.

Walking through La Jolla’s downtown feels a bit like touring an upscale village. With classy establishments settled into low-profile buildings, you can get the best of San Diego’s architecture without the big-city bustle.

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