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modern maven: Irving Gill

by LiveModern Webmaster last modified Jan 21, 2016 01:03 AM
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by bubba of the bubbles ( last modified Jan 20, 2016



Part Gill in a multi-part series!

Who: Irving Gill 
What: Protomodernist architect of early Californian minimalism
When: b. 1870 d. 1936; key active time 1907-1919
Where: San Diego and Los Angeles
Why: Designed buildings of simple beauty inside and out inspired by Mediterranean architecture
Way: Worked under Louis Sullivan (and with Frank Lloyd Wright in Sullivan's office); was an influence on R.M. Schindler. Lloyd Wright worked for Gill for a time.

Gill began his career under Louis Sullivan working alongside Frank Lloyd Wright in Chicago. Due to health reasons, Gill moved to San Diego and started a practice that ably designed projects that aped the popular styles of the time. The combination of restoring the San Diego Mission and hooking up professionally with Frank Mead, a young architect who had just returned from photographing the simple whitewashed cubic huts that huddled against the sides of the Mediterranean sea, led to Gill's golden era between 1907 and 1919.

Gill removed nearly all ornamentation and greatly smoothed and simplified his architecture. His work still evoked Mission Revival with its arches, especially on homes and churches. The buildings he designed for Scripps looked like full-steam ahead Modernism: simple, devoid of ornamentation, and white. One of the great losses to American Modern architecture was the loss of Gill's Dodge House (1914-16) in West Hollywood in 1970. 

Gill was attentive to simplifying interiors as well as exterior. On interiors, he worked to minimize places where dust could collect by removing trim as much as possible and curving corners where walls and floors met. His houses during his key active time were light and airy.

Due to east coast architectural snobbery, Irving Gill's career was roundly ignored by the cognoscenti at the time. Today's historians recognize Gill's influence on early California Modernism and how the simplicity and utility he explored in his buildings approached if not surpassed that of Adolf Loos

Dodge House, West Hollywood (1914-6)




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