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Ruocco Park: Honoring Artists Guild Members

Ilse and Lloyd RuoccoIlse and Lloyd Ruocco,  both Artists Guild Members, are being honored by the City of San Diego and the Port of San Diego with their own 3.3 acre park just north of Seaport Village

….the Ruocco Park!  What legacy did they leave us?  Why are they being honored?

Lloyd was a ‘philosopher-architect’ and Ilse was a professional interior decorator and professor teaching ceramics and design. They were arguably the most influential proponents of contemporary design in San Diego in the 1940’s.  Their La Mesa home, Il Cavo, designed and built by Lloyd in 1946, was an architectural landmark in redwood and glass.1  He brought the outside in.
The Ruocco’s Design Center on 5th Avenue housed his architecture practice and her furniture showroom and design services. Lloyd designed the Children's Zoo, the Institute of Geophysics and Planetary Physics at Scripps Institution of Oceanography and many private homes.

Ilse founded the environmental and interior design program at San Diego State and she introduced modern furniture and locally made paintings and objects into San Diego homes. 2

Ilse began teaching at San Diego State in 1934 and inspired generations of San Diego artists. Pictured at right at San Diego State College, early 1950’s, is Professor Ilse Ruocco and environmental design students.

Artists Guild members Ilse Ruocco and Martha Longenecker shared the joy of teaching their expertise with another generation.  Martha Longenecker founded the Mingei International Museum. Pictured at left are Professor Ilse Ruocco and Profesor Martha Longenecker, with John Longenecker at San Diego State College in 1957.

The Ruocco Park is the 18th waterfront park created in the City of San Diego.  It is a 3.3 acre quiet, contemplative park with a serene feeling.  It was funded by the Port of San Diego and the San Diego Foundation.  It honors the Ruoccos who brought modern architecture to San Diego. Through the use of large windows and open spaces in their designs and the innovative use of natural materials, they expressed their love of nature.  They inspired San Diegans to bring the outside into their homes and businesses.

Lloyd and Ilse Ruocco created a fund that contributed $3.5 million toward the park.
Ruocco founded Citizens Coordinate as a group that would bring other groups together to campaign for better planning and urban design.  The organization, now numbering about 200 members, has figured into virtually every high-profile planning and development issue since then. 3

Photo Credits:
Banner Photo: San Diego Craft Revolution: From Post-War Modern to California Design, Dave Hampton p.22
Photo 2:  Lloyd and Ilse Ruocco at their home, Il Cavo in 1948; Todd Pitman Ruocco Archive
Photo 3  Design Center, Lloyd Ruocco, A.I.A. built 1949; Todd Pitman Ruocco Archive

Photo 4: San Diego State College, early 1950’s, Professor Ilse Ruocco and environmental design students; From Post-War Modern to California Design, Dave Hampton p. 130
Photo 5: Professor Ilse Ruocco and Professor Martha Longenecker, San Diego State College, 1957 with John Longenecker at San Diego State College in 1957: Ibid p. 171
Photo 6: Map of Ruocco Park, KPBS online September 19, 2012, photo by Port of San Diego

1. Ibid p. 23, 24
2. Ibid p. 32

3 UT San Diego October 2, 2011 by Roger Showley

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