Alvarado Estates; A Hidden San Diego Gem

June 25, 2019

Jacobo Realty Group had the great pleasure of listing 4940 Armin Way in the beautiful community of Alvarado Estates. We have grown to fall in love with this community after working in the area, admiring the unique homes and researching the architecture. To show our deep respect for the post-modernist architecture in this one of a kind community we have compiled an interesting background on the community and it's founder, and most famous architect, Lloyd Ruocco. 

Alvarado Estates is an exclusive hilltop residential development overlooking Mission Valley and Grantville. Alvarado Estates is the only private, gated community within the College Neighborhoods. Established in 1948, this stunning community was first conceived by noted San Diego architect Lloyd Ruocco.  Initially the community was targeted for San Diego's top "professional" residents. With this in mind, an airstrip was developed at the top of the hillside to attract residents whom might own private aircraft. Sometime later, this airstrip was turned into a residential street and named Avion Street. Within Alvarado Estates some of the San Diego's most impressive examples of notable Modernist residential architecture can be found. Including homes designed by Richard Neutra, Henry Hester, and Lloyd Ruocco. 

Lloyd Pietrantonio Ruocco (1907-1981) arrived in San Diego in the early 20's while still in high school. Early on, he immersed himself within the architectural community that thrived in San Diego in the early part of the last century. While a student at San Diego High School, he worked as a draftsman in the offices of another famous architect, Richard Requa. Here Ruocco was exposed to the Mediterranean styles that had become immensely popular throughout Southern California and he developed a sensitive respect for the built environment's relationship to the outdoors. 

After graduating from UC Berkeley, Ruocco returned to his much loved San Diego and began to make his distinct architectural mark on the city. He assisted in the 1935 Panama Exposition that would later become San Diego landmark Balboa Park. In addition to developing Alvarado Estates, he also assisted on the master plan for the community of Rancho Santa Fe under the supervision of his high school drafting instructor Lillian Rice. Ruocco would go on to become San Diego’s pioneering post-war modernist. Designing well over 100 projects throughout San Diego County, Lloyd is responsible for several projects that are considered by many to be some of the areas best examples of the period.

Ruocco believed that no level of architectural genius could equal the beauty of San Diego's natural landscape. He believed in the beauty of the trees, canyons and sky and if you have had the pleasure of being inside one of his simple wood or steel buildings you know the trees, canyons and sky of which I speak.  He believed that as an architect he had a responsibility to the people, that the building's impact on the land should be as minimal as possible, and that it should be the experience of those who live and work within the structure that matters. Further, he believed structure obscured that which is most grand (see trees, birds sky above). To this point many of Ruocco's works are invisible from the street.

Below is a partial list of Ruocco's works. You can distinctly see in each one his post-modernist style, combined with his distinct appreciation for the natural beauty of the landscape surrounding each property. 

Partial Project List

Arenson Residence (1970)
4727 Avion Road

Avocado Professional Group Medical and Dental Center (1971)
230 Avocado

Baranov, Nate Residence (1948)
Del Mar

Baranov, Sylvan Residence I (1948)
736 Armada Terrace, Point Loma

Baranov, Sylvan Residence II (1971)
3576 Via Las Flores

Barwick Residence (1955)
Designed by Lloyd Ruocco
3260 Kenora Drive

Bauman, Mr and Mrs Henry Residence (1955)
3615 Dorothy Way

Beers, Mr. & Mrs. Wm. N. Residence (1954, 1964)
631 N. Crescent Drive, Mission HIlls
*Residence Remodel & Addition for Mr. & Mrs. W. Beers by Lloyd Ruocco dated July 24, 1964

The Beers Residence

Burnett, George Residence (early '60s)
3223 Zola Street, Point Loma

Burnett, William Residence (1971)
3576 Via Flores, Point Loma

California Exposition (1935)
Balboa Park

California Steel Building (1965)
Main Street

Chernoff, Howard and Melva Residence (1962)
4522 Trias Street, Mission Hills

City Concourse Plaza (1964)
Front Street, Downtown

Clitsome Residence (1938)
South Park

The Clitsome Residence

Cole Residence (1952 )La Mesa

County Admin Building. (1933)
1600 Pacific Coast Highway

Design Center, The (1949)
3611 5th Avenue, Hillcrest

Edel Residence  (1963)
1317 Windridge Drive, El Cajon

Feller Residence (1962)
3377 Charles, Point Loma

Garden Villa Exposition House (1953)
Balboa Park
*temporary exposition house, later rebuilt as part of Solari

Greene, Ethel Residence (1946)
Helix Street, Spring Valley

Grossmont Spec House (1969)
5609 Lakewood Drive, La Mesa
Also referred to as the Ishikawa Residence . Demolished

Herrera Residence (1970)
1108 Dawnridge Ave, El Cajon

Hillside House (1960)
3343 Poe Street, Point Loma

Holmgren, Richard Residence (1948)
10037 Ward Lane, Mt. Helix

Institute of Geophysics & Geoplanetary Sciences (1964)
8602 La Jolla Shores Drive, Scripps Institution of Oceanography

Institute of Geophysics and Geoplanetary Sciences

International Center (1971)
UC San Diego

Jacobson, Mr. & Mrs. Isadore Residence (1948)
9175 Lavell Street, La Mesa

Jackson, Marvin Residence (1949)
4421 Mayapan Drive, El Cajon

Jones, Mr. Burton I. Residence (1949)
9830 Edgelake Drive, La Mesa

Kaye, Peter Residence (1956)
240 Ocean View Avenue, Del Mar

Keller Residence #1 (1942)
3039 F Street, National City

Keller Residence #2 (1947)
1433 Puterbaugh Street, Mission Hills

Keller Residence #3 (1963)
9405 La Jolla Farms Road, La Jolla

The Keller Residence #3

KOGO-AM/FM/TV (1958)
47th & Highway 94, San Diego

Lange, Mitchell & Marian Residence (1951)
6051 Folsom Drive

Lemon Avenue Elementary (1957)
8787 Lemon Avenue, La Mesa

Libby Residence (1965)
La Jolla

Lillie Residence (1958)
4410 Carmen Drive, Mt. Helix

Mills Office Building (1964)
4th & Nutmeg

Mitchell, Alfred Residence (1937)
1500 Block 31st Street, South Park

Montgomery Memorial Park (1962)

Nelson Residence (1958)
630 N. Crescent Drive, Mission Hills

Pioneer Congregational Church (1966)
4905 Jellett /2550 Fairfield Street, Clairemont

Burke, Mr. and Mrs. Jack Residence (ca. 1960)
2322 Hartford Street
Designed by Ruocco & Delawie

Private Residence (1954)
1440 Puterbaugh Street, Mission Hills

Private Residence (1972)
Toyon Road

Private Residence (1950)
4351 Ridgeway Drive

Private Residence (1945)
7100 Lakewood Drive

Private Residence (1962)
7245 Rue de Roark

Private Residence (1950)

Private Residence (1952)
3252 Hawk Street, Mission Hills

Cole Residence (1952)
Briercrest neighborhood, La Mesa

Private Residence
2417 Pine Street

Private Residence (1959)
2021 Rodelane Street

Private Residence (1949)

Rabinowitz Residence (1952)
2034 Sunset Drive, Mission Hills

Robertson Residence (1942)
4245 Randolph, Mission Hills

Roberston, Tom Residence (1947)
3920 Pringle Street

Ruocco Residence #1 "Il Cavo" (1945)
1900 La Sievida, La Mesa

Ruocco Residence #1

Ruocco Residence #2 Solari (1958)
5481 Toyon Road, Alvarado Estates

Salik, Mr and Mrs Charles Residence (1957)
2110 Guy Street, Mission Hills

Sanborn Residence (1949)
Point Loma

San Diego Children's Zoo (1957-1961)
Children's Zoo Entry Dome (1955)
Park Boulevard

San Diego Civic Theater (1965)
1100 Third Avenue, San Diego

Security First National Bank (1961)
Carlton Hills Road, Santee

Shelton Residence (1964)
1100 Oxford Avenue

Southwest Onyx & Marble Co. (1966)
Crosby Street, National City

Spitzer, Lillian Residence (1949)
7256 West Point Avenue, La Mesa

St. Andrews Episcopal Church (1963)
1050 Thomas Street, Pacific Beach

St. Phillips Episcopal Church (1962)
Hardy Road

Upas Garden Apartments (1960)
1740 Upas Street, Hillcrest
Designed by Ruocco & Delawie

U.S. Navy Lounge & Bar (1966)
Ream Field

Watts Office Building (1964)
2970 Main Street

Wexler, Sidney & Henrietta Residence (1964)
10088 Sierra Vista, Mt. Helix

Wing Monument (1946)
Border Field Park

Yates Residence (1959)
15187 Las Planideras Road, Rancho Santa F

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