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Annual Hubbell House Tour In Julian Will Showcase New Foundation Building

The Ilan-Lael Foundation headquarters under construction on the Julian proper...

Photo by Kris Arciaga

Above: The Ilan-Lael Foundation headquarters under construction on the Julian property of architect James Hubbell, April 11, 2017.

On Father's Day, the public can visit the Hubbell property near Julian, which is filled with examples of the architect's designs, including a brand new building for his Ilan-Lael Foundation.


Coming up later this month, fans of the artist and architect Jim Hubbell can go on a tour of some of his work in San Diego and Tijuana.

The "Gateway Conversations" event from April 28 to 30 will show off Hubbell's work at sites including the Colegio La Esperanza, an elementary school in Tijuana, and the Entre Corazon Y Mar park.

Then, on Father's Day, the public can visit Hubbell's property near Julian, which is filled with examples of his designs, including a brand new building for his Ilan-Lael Foundation.

Marianne Gerdes, the director of Ilan-Lael, said Hubbell has been slowly filling his remote property with creative designs over the last 60 years, starting with a small home he built with his wife Anne, when they were first married in 1958.

"What I tell people about the architecture here is you can really see Jim's progression as an artist when you tour our space," she said. "Because Jim and Anne built this one building at a time, they never borrowed any money to do the building here, so they only built as they had a need for something and as they could afford to. So what that has given us is this wonderful encapsulation of his progression as an artist."

That progression keeps some similar themes — the nine buildings are all made with natural materials and have lots of rounded corners and arches. So much so that visitors have compared the property to hobbit houses in J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings.

"People often ask me, what style is Jim Hubbell, and is he organic; is he modern; is he contemporary?" Gerdes said. "I think he's all of those things. I just tell people he's Hubbellesque, and they know exactly what I mean when I say that."

The 85-year-old Hubbell is still an active designer, working with students and visiting artists to create his work. He is famous for his mosaics and stained glass. He often draws a small version of a design that others then reproduce using stone or glass.

"I couldn't do everything by myself," Hubbell said. "I like trying to explain to people what we're doing."

Photo caption:

Photo by Kris Arciaga

Stained glass designed by artist Jim Hubbell adorns one of the buildings on his Julian property, April 11, 2017.

Right now, Hubbell's team is getting ready for their big annual open house on Sunday, June 18. Anyone who wants to can pay $50 dollars (or $30 dollars for students) to take a tour of the grounds.

Hubbell said the event is "tiring," but he is grateful that people are interested and appreciate the space.

"I hope the buildings can be used to make the world better," he said. "I particularly hope we can use it for people to talk to each other that don't necessarily like each other."

Helping people to talk to each other is more important now than ever, he said.

Photo caption:

Photo by Kris Arciaga

Architect James Hubbell leaves his home in Julian, April 11, 2017.

This year's open house will also bring the unveiling of a brand new building that will be a headquarters for Ilan-Lael, the foundation Hubbell started in 1982. The director, Gerdes, said the foundation discovered a new purpose after the 2003 Cedar Fire, which destroyed much of the Hubbell property.

"The rebuilding after the fire was only possible because the community stepped forward and donated close to $300,000 to the Hubbells to put all this back," she said. "It was at that time that they realized this place had meaning for the community, that it was more than just their home and their family's home, it had become a beloved place for a lot of people."

When the donations were made, the property was also transitioned to Ilan-Lael. The nonprofit now owns and maintains the space, while Hubbell and his wife live on site as artists in residence.

Photo by Kris Arciaga

A building on the Julian property of architect James Hubbell, April 11, 2017.

Hubbell’s art has also spread across the county, and even the world, with work in Russia, China, South Korea and Taiwan.

"Jim will tell you he has a disease, and that's that he can't stop building," Gerdes said. "And we're so grateful that he has that itch to build."

Once again in June, visitors to the Hubbell property can see what that disease has produced in the past year.

Photo by Kris Arciaga

James and Anne Hubbell talk on their Julian property, April 11, 2017.


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Claire Trageser
Investigative Reporter

opening quote marksclosing quote marksAs a member of the KPBS investigative team, my job is to hold the powerful in San Diego County accountable. I've done in-depth investigations on political campaigns, police officer misconduct and neighborhood quality of life issues.

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