Science Fair Project Encyclopedia
Frequently considered to have produced San Diego's best architecture. Gill practiced in California starting in 1893, after working under Dankmar Adler & Louis Sullivan in Chicago. Gill (known as Jack to his friends) was a pioneer in rational, early modernist design for residences and commercial buildings. This phase of his career began about 1907, following a partnership with William S. Hebbard that produced good work, important to San Diego County history but rather unknown nationally.
Irving Gill was concerned with the social benefit of good architecture, and worked with equal skill and interest on projects for the bankers and mayors as on projects for reservation Indians, an African American church, and projects for migrant Mexican workers.
Gill's mature period work, described as "cubist" in his time, was an attempt to remove unnecessary detailing, much as the Arts & Crafts movement of the time was concerned with, but with a Zen-type spirituality and a few local Southwestern references. This architect's best work of the 1910s is identified by: flat roofs with no eaves, a unity of materials (mostly concrete), casement windows with transoms above, white or near-white walls, cube or rectangular massing, frequent ground-level arches or series of arches creating transitional breezeways in the manner of certain Italian and Spanish Colonial buildings.
Gill's interiors are known for minimal or flush mouldings, simple fireplace mantles, enclosed bathtubs, frequent skylights, plastered walls with only the occasional, but featured, wood elements, often with concrete or magnisite floors, and a general avoidance of cracks, ledges, and unnecessary material changes.
Irving J. Gill's best known work includes: the George W. Marston House (1904-, with W.S. Hebbard), the Walter L. Dodge House in West Hollywood (1914-16, demolished), the F.B. Lewis Courts in Sierra Madre (1910), The Horatio West Court in Santa Monica (1919), The first buildings at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography(1908-) and the La Jolla "Precinct" including The La Jolla Woman's Club (1912-), The Bishop's School (1910-), The La Jolla Recreation Center (1913-), and the residence for Ellen Browning Scripps (1915, now remodeled as the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art).
Gill's work slowed considerably after 1920 or so due to illness, changing public tastes, and a lessening desire to compromise with clients. After the late 1920s, his work added certain Art Deco or "Moderne" touches.
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