The UT has published two articles about the these goofy-looking condos in North Carlsbad that supporters are saying that they need to be saved, in spite of the new owners purchasing each individual condo separately and abiding by city zoning and planning:

Excerpt from the first UT article:

Modern architecture fans hope to save a small, but distinctive condominium building known for its whimsical appearance near Carlsbad’s Magee Park.

The 40-year-old building, sometimes called the Victor Condo, on Garfield Street is one of the first examples of a postmodern style often called “Blendo” created by San Diego architects Ted Smith and Kathleen McCormick.

“Victor Condo is clearly of cultural significance and a fine example of a pivotal historic time in Carlsbad’s build-environment growth from a small coastal community to a vibrant city worthy of vibrant architecture,” said Peter Jensen, a writer and editor at Sunset Magazine and San Diego Home/Garden magazine for 40 years.

As “affordable yet stylishly significant (not to mention excitingly livable) dwellings” the buildings are an example of late 20th century innovation in an area that too often relies on cookie-cutter architecture,” Jensen said in comments on a petition to save the structure.

“We believe the building qualifies as a design on the vanguard of an important architectural movement,” states the petition posted by San Diego architect Patrick Cordelle, who works with Smith and McCormick.

“Ted and Kathy have been a huge inspiration to me,” Cordelle said by email Tuesday. “The two are responsible for some of the most beautiful and thought-provoking buildings in our region, and I believe they will go down in history as some of the greatest American architects of our time.”

Smith and McCormick created the Blendo style to superimpose surrounding styles into one building. The Garfield Street structure blends the styles of the adjacent Victorian home, now a museum, in Magee Park with the white buildings of the nearby Army and Navy Academy and other surrounding styles.

The architects dubbed their project the Victor Condos as a reference to the modified Victorian style of the facade, Cordelle said, and the nickname has stuck to this day.

The style spread to Los Angeles in the 1980s and ‘90s, where leading architects began exploring new ways to draw from assorted local sources in ways that bring humor, free form and a philosophical agenda to their designs.

Other San Diego projects by Smith, McCormick and another partner, Lloyd Russell, include the Abpopa Hotel in Hillcrest, the Merrimac building in Little Italy, and the Essex apartments on State Street.

A historical analysis report completed for the Carlsbad Planning Department in October by San Diego attorney Scott Moomjian concludes that the Garfield Street property is not historically or architecturally significant.

“No historical evidence was identified which would support the contention that the property exemplifies or reflects special elements of Carlsbad’s cultural, social, economic, political, aesthetic, engineering or architectural history,” Moomjian said in his report. “The building in no way exemplifies or reflects ‘special elements’ of the city’s history any more than other, similarly situated, existing structures within the community.”

Carlsbad resident Dirk Sutro, an author, former editor of San Diego Home/Garden and the architecture critic for the San Diego edition of the Los Angeles Times from 1988 to 1992, is among a number of people who disagree with the attorney’s conclusion.

“Carlsbad’s Victor project is an essential example of Smith’s earliest work and is clearly worthy of preservation,” Sutro said in a rebuttal to the attorney’s report.

“Victor Condos is a whimsical and distinctive building in a neighborhood not generally distinguished by unique architecture,” he said. “It is the most eye-catching building in the area.”

The building’s front facade “takes the form of three distinctive rowhouses and has an engaging playfulness that brings to mind a theme park or a Hollywood movie set,” Sutro said. “The use of glass block calls to mind buildings from the Art Deco era of architecture in the 1930s.”

Its creative use of concrete, wood and stucco in simple forms is an example of how basic materials can be utilized in exciting ways, Sutro said.

Preserving the building reduces the need for lumber, glass and other materials that are in short supply, require transportation and increase a region’s carbon footprint, he said.

Also, the existing building has three primary condominiums and three smaller suites for a total of six rental units. Replacing it with three luxury units would reduce the city’s housing supply and increase housing costs, Sutro said.

Link to article:


Here’s the petition:


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