Our Readers Write: Daughter of Architectural Designer Calls for Preservation of PB Bank Building and Art

Preserving the Pacific Beach Bank building and its art

As a longtime resident of San Diego deeply involved in the arts, both as a past Chairman of the Board of Trustees of the Mingei International Museum and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Artist’s Ilan Lael Foundation and architect James Hubbell, I really appreciate what San Diego has when it comes to beauty. and stature in its artistic buildings and monuments. I highly value the beauty of San Diego, which is also reflected beyond the walls of the museum in its artistically designed buildings and monuments.

But it’s personal.

My father, Millard Owen Sheets, a well-known artist and architectural designer, received carte blanche from Bank President Howard Ahmanson in 1955 to design Home Savings & Loan buildings. When dad asked Ahmanson if he could put art on and in buildings, Ahmanson told him to do whatever he wanted and not to ask permission. After all, Sheets was the architectural designer and artist.

From the start, Dad tied his designs to the specific location of each building and included works of art telling stories about the history of the area. For Sheets, buildings and art were inseparable.

The first home savings building opened in Los Angeles for a line of investors who have reached the block. Obviously, this new way of communicating with the public was an attractive approach to architecture.

As Adam Arenson wrote in his 2018 book, “Banking on Beauty: Millard Sheets and Midcentury Commercial Architecture in California,” “Adorned with murals, mosaics, stained glass and carvings, Home Savings branches have displayed a festive vision of the history and values ​​of the community. which has been widely acclaimed.

What the building constructed in 1977 at 4650 Mission Bay Drive in Pacific Beach represents to me is the dignity and beauty that elevates this particular corner. You can’t miss it without warning. There is both elegance and simplicity in the building, the art and the landscape. It is a rare treasure of Pacific Beach. (“Could the Chase Bank mosaics in Pacific Beach soon leave the neighborhood?” Efforts are underway to save them ”, Monthly PB, August 6.)

The building was intended to function as an artistic ensemble. Therefore, I think building and art should be preserved as a whole and find a reuse that honors art and architecture.

I appreciate your serious consideration of this sincere letter and encourage you to make your own feelings known.

The Reverend Dr Carolyn Sheets Owen-Towle

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