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Exhibit In La Jolla Imagines Alternate Future For Lost Buildings

Artist Jean Lowe's painting

Above: Artist Jean Lowe's painting "Carnegie Library, 2014" on view now at the La Jolla Historical Society's exhibit "What Was Is."


A new exhibit at the La Jolla Historical Society explores an alternate future for important buildings lost to history. "What Was Is" features an impressive list of how artists imagine what those buildings would look like today.

A new exhibit at the La Jolla Historical Society explores an alternate future for important San Diego buildings lost to history.

The exhibit, titled “What Was Is,” features 24 buildings that have been lost or destroyed in La Jolla and San Diego and imagines how they might be used today, if they’d been saved.

To do the imagining, the Society called on a hot-shot list of local artists, architects and writers, including Roman de Salvo, Jean Lowe, Jennifer Luce, James Enos and the team of Roy McMakin and Tom Mulica. They were each asked to pick a building from a list of buildings culled by the Historical Society in conjunction with the Save Our Heritage Organisation (SOHO).

The artists were then asked to create a work imagining how the building might look today if it had been saved, including how it might be used.

“We are trying to approach the subject in a way that is innovative and that has the potential to be forward looking," said Heath Fox, executive director of the La Jolla Historical Society.

"Restoration of Windemere Cottage with a New Home for a Family," by Roy McMakin and Tom Mulica imagines how Irving Gill's Windemere Cottage could have been saved and integrated with a modern residence.

Roy McMakin and Tom Mulica of Domestic Architecture chose Windemere Cottage, architect Irving Gill’s first building and the first example of a Craftsman cottage in California. “The building was sold to a new owner in 2011 who was not sympathetic to the cause and who tore it down and hauled it off the landfill,” said Fox.

Fox says the owner wanted to build a 4,000-square-foot home. McMakin and Mulica created an architectural model and renderings that would give the owner his home and preserve the cottage. The piece is called “Restoration of Windemere Cottage with a New Home for a Family.”

Jean Lowe imagined what would have happened if the Carnegie Library that once existed in downtown San Diego had been saved instead of torn down in 1952. Her painting, “Carnegie Library, 2014” portrays an adaptive use of the Greco-Roman style building for commercial and small business use.

“We lose community identity when we lose these buildings,” said Fox. “One of our goals is to stimulate a dialogue in the community and raise awareness about the built environment.”

“What Was Is” will be on view at the Historical Society’s Wisteria Cottage galleries through May 17.

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