Just before the dawn of the 20th century, a young architect named Irving J. Gill came to San Diego, California. A firm believer in the edict that form follows function, Gill forged a modern vision of architecture, which restored simplicity, revered craftsmanship and drew inspiration from nature. Eschewing ornamentation in favor of simple structures, the stark beauty of his buildings reflects both Quaker sensibilities and the Southern California lifestyle.
Backed by progressive San Diegans such as George Marston and Ellen Browning Scripps, Gill helped shape Southern California's unique identity while moving American architecture out of the past. Using archival footage and interviews with historians and architects, Fundamental Truths: The Architecture of Irving J. Gill tells the story of the architect's life and work. It chronicles his quest for structural purity and showcases his masterpieces in and around San Diego.
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This documentary about architect Irving Gill, whose buildings in San Diego helped define the look of the city, provides a fascinating profile of an American original who has been sadly overlooked. Though not formally educated as an architect, young Gill was hired as a draftsman in the firm of noted Chicago architect Louis Sullivan by none other than Frank Lloyd Wright. Moving to San Diego for health reasons, Gill hit his stride designing buildings influenced by the city's location and history as a Spanish mission settlement. Experts on Gill interviewed in the documentary note his creative use of building material, and they thoughtfully describe the houses and public buildings he designed. As San Diego entered the 20th century, Gill defined the look of the burgeoning city, though his career was marked by controversy, and when he died, in 1936, it was in humble circumstances. This documentary describes what would be an ideal walking tour of San Diego, with some of Gill's best work highlighted. But as the architect's story is an evocative American tale of artistic vision, this production would also be of interest to those who may never visit the city with which Gill name is forever linked. --Robert J. McNamara
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