In my interview this weekend with prominent local architect Jennifer Luce, I included many of her thoughts about East Village, a community that has changed dramatically in recent years.
Luce designed Little Italy’s Extraordinary Desserts. She took George’s at the Cove in La Jolla and redid it as George’s California Modern. Nissan commissioned Luce to reinvent its design centers here and in Michigan, projects which The New York Times featured a few years ago.
But a lot of Luce’s energy is focused on East Village. I first came across the loft she owns at 10th Ave. and J Street when my friends who run Sezio, a local arts organization, sponsored concerts there.
I couldn’t fit our whole conversation in the Q&A this weekend, but when Luce speaks about her loft, it’s almost as if it’s a character in her life. I think you’ll see what I mean:
Tell me a little bit about your loft space.
The loft was originally, in 1927, the machine shop for the Carnation factory, the milk factory. And Wayne Buss in the late ’70s, ’80s, began to develop the entire building as a housing complex for artists. I eventually bought the loft space in 2001 and the neighborhood was quiet. Buildings were low-scale. There were a lot of parking lots. So there was a lot of potential and desire for growth, in my mind.
We would walk into the Gaslamp Quarter to eat, socialize and take a walk. At the height of the studio in 2005 we had 14 people working in the loft. So we were quite a community in our own right. You know Icon built the towers behind us, and the parking garages went in, Petco Park went in all during the time when we were occupying the space. So a huge change happened.
It has all this history; what first sparked your interest to buy the loft in 2001?
I had at that point worked in my house with six people for 10 years. And this notion of trying to find a space that is of a scale and character that allows you to grow your creativity — it’s really important, whether it be through the shape of the space, the scale of the space.
I came across a for-sale listing for the loft. Are you selling it?
We’ve listed it a number of times, one out of curiosity and two out of this idea that I would actually like to see it used on a permanent basis for something creative. I think that we’re a little bit ensconced here (in Pacific Beach) now for five or six years. It makes me sad to see it empty whenever I’m there, so I would rather see it full of spirit and life. With sushi at one end of the block, and The Corner at the other, it needs a life.