Final rays of sunlight and a smile in Balboa Park.

Late yesterday I entered Balboa Park to enjoy a summer organ concert. I arrived well before the music began, so I took a leisurely walk along El Prado.

I was touched by the final rays of sunlight and a smile…

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Architecture inspired by nature . . . and UFOs!

An exhibition of truly amazing architectural designs recently opened at the SDSU Downtown Gallery.

Radiant Architecture: The Visionary Work of Eugene Ray showcases the futuristic architectural concepts of an emeritus professor from San Diego State University, who taught Environmental Design from 1969 to 1996.

Those who have driven through La Jolla might have seen the fantastic house and studio he built at 1699 Nautilus Street. It’s commonly referred to as the Silver Ship. It was erected in 1978 with the help of Environmental Design students from SDSU.

It’s no surprise that many of Eugene Ray’s designs appear a bit like spaceships. His inspiration comes not only from simple, efficient, resilient forms found in nature, but from his life-changing sighting of a UFO in 1947 when he was a boy.

According to one sign I read, many of the innovative designs synthesized “Ray’s concepts of the synergy of color, light, and sound to create holistic, healing and energizing environments.” He also sought to create modular structures, which would be affordable and easily assembled.

I was told that his organic, biomorphic designs are so futuristic, unusual and brilliant that world-famous science fiction author Ray Bradbury at one time had plans to make a movie about Eugene Ray’s work.

Here are a few photos of the original drawings, prototypes, renderings and highly creative artwork currently on display. This very cool exhibition at the SDSU Downtown Gallery runs through October 6, 2019.

James A. Perry Residence - New Orleans, Louisiana, 1968.
James A. Perry Residence – New Orleans, Louisiana, 1968.
Aerodyne Sports House - 1984.
Aerodyne Sports House – 1984.
Nautilus Street Residence aka The Silver Ship - La Jolla, California, 1978.
Nautilus Street Residence aka The Silver Ship – La Jolla, California, 1978.
Blueprint of The Silver Ship, designed by Eugene Ray, located at 1699 Nautilus Street in La Jolla, California.
Blueprint of The Silver Ship, designed by Eugene Ray, located in La Jolla, California.
Pavilion for Holy Cross High School - New Orleans, Louisiana, 1967.
Pavilion for Holy Cross High School – New Orleans, Louisiana, 1967.
Untitled, Eugene Ray, 1969 (restored 2019). Acrylic and aluminum on canvas.
Untitled, Eugene Ray, 1969 (restored 2019). Acrylic and aluminum on canvas.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Radiant Spire proposed for Notre Dame.

Appearance of rebuilt Notre Dame Cathedral with Radiant Spire, designed by architect Eugene Ray.
Appearance of rebuilt Notre Dame Cathedral with Radiant Spire, designed by San Diego architect Eugene Ray.

I guess it’s too late now. Last month the French Parliament passed a law that states Notre Dame Cathedral must be restored to its exact condition before the recent, catastrophic fire.

But how might Paris have appeared if Notre Dame were crowned by a glowing spire?

The Radiant Spire is a fantastic concept created by architect Eugene Ray, who from 1969 to 1996 headed the Environmental Design program at San Diego State University. In 2019, with the help of architect Joe Cordelle, he designed a geodesic structure that unites a cone and sphere, and which radiates light.

I saw these images today while visiting the exhibition Radiant Architecture: The Visionary Work of Eugene Ray at the SDSU Downtown Gallery. As a proposal the Radiant Spire is inspiring and very beautiful.

But, alas, it will remain an idea.

Description of Radiant Spire for Notre Dame Cathedral. The elegant structure evokes an exuberant spirituality reaching skywards...
Description of Radiant Spire for rebuilt Notre Dame Cathedral. The elegant structure evokes an exuberant spirituality reaching skywards…
Elevation view of proposed spire for Notre Dame.
Elevation view of proposed spire for Notre Dame.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Looking skyward inside Smart Corner.

Today I sat on a bench waiting for a trolley at the City College station. This unique trolley station is located in the middle of a two tower condo building called Smart Corner.

Suddenly I had to yawn deeply. I tilted my head way back. Above me, the complex pattern of windows, jagged shadows and reflections appeared unreal!

Right then I knew I had to take a few photos.

Here I am, looking “skyward” while sitting inside Smart Corner!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

Little Italy’s history, culture at Amici House.

Arriving at the historic Amici House, a cultural center in San Diego's downtown Little Italy neighborhood.
Approaching the historic Amici House, a cultural center in San Diego’s downtown Little Italy neighborhood.

In downtown San Diego’s beautiful Little Italy neighborhood, tucked among trees between Amici Park and the popular Little Italy Dog Park, one can find a small house that is named for friendship. It’s called Amici House.

A century ago the Amici House was home to the Giacalone family, who lived in Sicily before their arrival in San Diego in 1916. Antonio Giacalone and his wife, Josephine, became an integral part of the local Italian fishing community. Their modest Craftsman style house was originally located a few blocks to the west, near India Street. Last year the structure was moved to its present location at 250 W. Date Street, in order to make room for the new Piazza della Famiglia.

The historic home, now called the Amici House, has become a gathering place for the present-day community. Sheltered by graceful trees, its shady patio is the perfect place to relax, have a drink and chat with friends. Inside the house one can observe museum-like displays and learn about life in Little Italy, which was home to many immigrant fishermen back when San Diego was considered the tuna fishing capital of the world.

The Amici House is operated by The Convivio Society for Italian Humanities, a nonprofit organization that promotes Italian arts, culture and heritage in San Diego. The house with its intimate patio provides a unique venue for concerts and other entertainment. A variety of community activities such as outdoor movie screenings are often enjoyed in nearby Amici Park. The house can also be rented for private events.

I paid a visit on Saturday afternoon and took a few photos.

This grassy area in front of Amici House will soon be a venue for outdoor entertainment, with its own small stage.
This grassy area in front of Amici House will soon be a venue for outdoor entertainment, with its own small stage.
A group of people exits Amici House. I will be able to explore the place during a quiet moment on a Saturday afternoon.
A group of people exits Amici House. I will be able to explore the place during a quiet moment on a Saturday afternoon.
Steps lead up into the beautifully renovated Craftsman style Amici House.
Steps lead up into the small, renovated Craftsman style Amici House.
At the bottom of the front steps is a table with gifts. Caffè Convivio offers snacks and a few refreshing things to drink.
At the bottom of the front steps is a table with books and other gifts. Caffè Convivio offers snacks and a few refreshing things to drink.
Chairs and tables in front of Amici House provide a pleasant, shady place to relax on a sunny day.
Chairs and tables in front of Amici House provide a pleasant, shady place to relax on a sunny day.
This kinetic fish sculpture is popular with kids.
This kinetic fish sculpture is popular with kids.
After stepping into the small Amici House, I turned around and took a photo of old fishing artifacts above the door.
After stepping into the Amici House, I turned around and took a photo of old fishing artifacts above the door.
Photo into a large mirror on one wall provides a glimpse of the small museum-like interior.
Photo into a large mirror on one wall provides a glimpse of the small museum-like interior.
The walls inside the Amici House are full of historical photos and information concerning Little Italy, once center of a thriving tuna fishing industry.
The walls inside the Amici House are full of historical photos and information concerning Little Italy, once center of a thriving tuna fishing industry.
Posters, old photos and works of art with an Italian theme appear on all sides. I see Frank Sinatra.
Posters, old photos and works of art with an Italian theme appear on all sides. I see Frank Sinatra.
This small exhibition of art features work by sports fan and artist Christopher Paluso.
This small exhibition of art features work by sports fan and artist Christopher Paluso.
Examples of work by accomplished Italian American artist Christopher Paluso.
Examples of work by accomplished Italian American artist Christopher Paluso.
In a wooden cabinet I spied colorful gifts and crafts imported from Italy.
In a wooden cabinet I saw colorful glassware and crafts imported from Italy.
Painting of John D'Acquisto, Italian American baseball player who played four years with the San Diego Padres.
Painting of John D’Acquisto, Italian American baseball pitcher who played four years with the San Diego Padres.
Little Italy has a rich history, including many generations of families that still thrive in the community today.
Little Italy has a rich history, including many generations of families that still thrive in the community today.
I'm shown a rendering of a proposed, much larger cultural center that might be built by The Convivio Society elsewhere in Little Italy.
I’m shown a rendering of a proposed, much larger cultural center that might be built by The Convivio Society in the future.
Meanwhile, the Amici House is a repository of cherished memories for a lively and welcoming San Diego neighborhood.
Meanwhile, the Amici House holds (and produces) cherished memories for a lively San Diego neighborhood.

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Photos inside the historic Ohr Shalom building.

On Sunday I enjoyed a tour of the Ohr Shalom building in San Diego’s Bankers Hill neighborhood. The historic 1925 building, acquired by the Ohr Shalom Synagogue in 2002, was one of many sites around the city that were open to the public during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2019 OPEN HOUSE SAN DIEGO.

The Ohr Shalom building was designed by architect William H. Wheeler, who is also known for downtown’s iconic Balboa Theatre building.

According to description provided by the San Diego Architectural Foundation: “With its dominant Moorish-style dome suspended high above an octagonal sanctuary embellished with Middle Eastern decorative motifs, the Synagogue . . . is one of the foremost examples of Mediterranean Revival, an architectural style that caught momentum around the mid-1920s.”

I learned that the synagogue was originally built for Congregation Beth Israel by M. Trepte & Son. It is constructed of steel-framed concrete and hollow clay tile, which was innovative for its time. Inside the sanctuary, which features a free-standing balcony, the lines are clean and simple, and worshipers are touched by light shining through the dome and a variety of stained glass windows and panels. Illustrations in the beautiful glass include the Ten Commandments, the menorah and Star of David, and a depiction of the twelve tribes of Israel.

During our tour we were allowed to stand near the pulpit. We were privileged to view one of the Torah scrolls and hear a sample of its reading.

Here are some photos that provide a feel for what it’s like to enter the Ohr Shalom Synagogue.

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!

Baggage, a silvery orb, and contemporary art.

A large silvery orb is suspended from the ceiling of the Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery, inside MCASD's historic Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.
A large silvery orb is suspended from the ceiling of the Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery, inside MCASD’s historic Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.

On Sunday I headed to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego to enjoy a tour of their downtown Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building. This historic building was one of many fascinating sites that the public could explore during the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s 2019 OPEN HOUSE SAN DIEGO.

I arrived early and walked about the building’s spacious galleries, gazing up toward the high ceiling and around corners at intriguing artwork. The current exhibition is titled Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen. Trevor Paglen, a MacArthur Award-winning artist who lived as a child on military bases, creates pieces that concern mass surveillance and individual privacy. According to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego website, he “blurs the lines between art, science, and investigative journalism to construct unfamiliar and at times unsettling ways to see and interpret the world around us . . . in Paglen’s photographs the infrastructure of surveillance is also apparent—a classified military installation, a spy satellite, a tapped communications cable, a drone, an artificial intelligence . . .”

When it was time for the architectural tour to begin, our small group gathered near the museum’s entrance and we learned a little about the very unique Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.

The building at first glance appears to be an extension of the Santa Fe Depot, San Diego’s downtown train station. In fact, what is now called the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building used to be the baggage building of the depot, and is separated from the train station’s passenger waiting room by an arched outdoor breezeway. The Santa Fe Depot, which is now a transit center that also serves Amtrak, was built in 1915 by Bakewell & Brown to accommodate travelers coming to San Diego for the Panama-California Exposition held in Balboa Park.

As decades passed, and travel by train waned, much less space was required at the station for baggage. Because of its historical importance, the huge old baggage building couldn’t be torn down or substantially altered.

The enormous interior space, large beautiful windows and high ceilings were perfect for a unique downtown art gallery. In 2007, the structure was converted by Gluckman Mayner Architects into an extraordinary downtown space for the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.

The downtown MCASD usually features more experimental art than their La Jolla location, so the unusually large galleries can be put to good use. I learned that past exhibitions have included some monumental artwork, even a full-size translucent polyester fabric and stainless steel “New York” apartment, complete with major appliances!

To explore art inside the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building is a remarkable experience. It’s like moving through a vast inner world where small dreams become large. Just as a museum should be!

Looking across Kettner Boulevard at the Santa Fe Depot. The old baggage building on the north side of the train station is now home to the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
Looking west across Kettner Boulevard at the Santa Fe Depot. The old baggage building on the north side of the train station is now used by the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego.
At the north end of the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building is the modern three-story David C. Copley Building.
At the north end of the historic Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building is the modern three-story David C. Copley Building.
The David C. Copley Building has featured additional gallery space, but now houses administrative offices for MCASD while their La Jolla location is renovated and enlarged.
In the past the David C. Copley Building has provided additional gallery space. It now houses administrative offices for MCASD while their La Jolla location is renovated and enlarged.
Sign in front of MCASD's entrance entices visitors to come in and gaze at the orb.
Sign in front of MCASD’s entrance invites passersby to come in and gaze at the orb.
Looking from inside the museum across Kettner Boulevard toward the America Plaza trolley station. The building seen to the right is MCASD's original downtown location, now used by the museum for educational programs.
Looking from inside the museum across Kettner Boulevard toward the America Plaza trolley station. The two-story building seen to the right is MCASD’s original downtown location, now used by the museum for educational programs.
As visitors enter the museum, artwork inside the Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery immediately catch the eye.
As visitors enter the museum, massive artwork inside the Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery immediately catches the eye.
Looking west out glass doors at the Figi Family Concourse and trolley and train platforms at Santa Fe Depot.
Looking west out glass doors at the Figi Family Concourse, and trolley and train platforms at downtown’s Santa Fe Depot.
One of several large cubes outside the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building, by artist Richard Serra, 2005
One of several large steel cubes outside the Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building, by artist Richard Serra, 2005.
Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite, by artist Trevor Paglen.
Prototype for a Nonfunctional Satellite, by contemporary artist Trevor Paglen.
More artwork by the large arched windows of the old baggage building. This interior wall is part of MCASD's unique Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery.
More artwork by the large arching windows of the old baggage building. This interior wall is part of MCASD’s unique Iris and Matthew Strauss Gallery.
Visitors to the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego enjoy photographs and other pieces by Trevor Paglen.
Visitors to the downtown Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego view photographs and other pieces by Trevor Paglen.
Sign at MCASD explains the current exhibition Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen. (click to enlarge)
Sign at MCASD explains the current exhibition Trevor Paglen: Sites Unseen. (Click photo to enlarge for easy reading.)
Autonomy Cube, 2015, Trevor Paglen. Working hardware that allows users to connect anonymously to the internet, by routing Wi-Fi traffic through the Tor network.
Autonomy Cube, 2015, Trevor Paglen. Working hardware that allows users to connect anonymously to the internet, by routing Wi-Fi traffic through the Tor network.
True Art ... (CIA Special Activities Staff), 2016, Trevor Paglen. High temp epoxy.
True Art … (CIA Special Activities Staff), 2016, Trevor Paglen. High temp epoxy.
A look into a spacious art gallery inside MCASD's Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.
A look into a spacious gallery inside MCASD’s Joan and Irwin Jacobs Building.
"Fanon" (Even the Dead Are Not Safe) Eigenface, 2017, Trevor Paglen. Dye sublimation print.
“Fanon” (Even the Dead Are Not Safe) Eigenface, 2017, Trevor Paglen. Dye sublimation print.
Amazing sights await eyes at downtown's Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego!
Astonishing sights await curious eyes at downtown’s Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego!

I live in downtown San Diego and love to walk around with my camera! You can follow Cool San Diego Sights via Facebook or Twitter!

You can easily explore Cool San Diego Sights by using the search box on my blog’s sidebar. Or click a tag! There are thousands upon thousands of photos for you to enjoy!