Preservation Conference Set

2015 edition focuses on San Diego modern, Cliff May, 'tiki temples' and CA bohemians
Preservation Conference Set
Modernism, including Louis Kahn's famous Salk Institute (above), comes to the fore at the California Preservation Conference, set in San Diego April 29 to May 2. (Photo: Rex Boggs)

There will be much for fans of modern design to like at the upcoming California Preservation Conference, an event filled with talks and tours and seminars aimed at professional historians and architects—and at serious amateurs.

"We are making a real push on modernism this year," says Curtis Drake, of Save Our Heritage Organization, who will lead a modernism tour.

And keep in mind—if you are tempted to attend—reserve your tour spots quickly as tickets are going fast!

The conference, 'Gateways to Preservation: New Frontiers,' will be headquartered at the Naval Training Center, a closed military base being renovated in San Diego, and run from April 29 to May 2. The training center, the foundation boasts, is "a new landmark showcasing San Diego's creative community."

The nonprofit California Preservation Foundation is the state's largest and most important historic preservation organization.

Tours are always a major draw at the annual conference, which marks its 40th year in San Diego. 'Cliff May and the California Ranch House Tour' will take visitors to several homes designed by May (1908-1989), an inventor of the California ranch style and an inventive designer of open-plan, glass-roofed houses, sometimes with retractable roofs.

Preservation Conference Set
Irving Gill's First Church of Christ Scientist is part of the conference's San Diego tour. (Photo: Dave Weinstein)

"This tour includes exterior and select interior tours of the homes and landscapes that are beyond inspiring," the foundation promises. Cliff May got his start in San Diego.

What the foundation is calling a "study tour" will take participants to San Diego's 'Tiki Temples'—"fantastic, whimsical expressions of exotic post-World War II architectural escapism when San Diego marketed itself as an airline tourist destination where visitors could recreate in a semi-tropical garden paradise."

"The tour will focus on two notable concentrations of the genre at Mission Bay, and Shelter Island, which may have the largest concentration of its kind in the nation." (Since the tour ends at 5 p.m., it may even be possible to imbibe.)

Author and architect Ted Wells will discuss 'Bohemian Highways: Art & Culture Abide Then Divide Along the California Coast' during a morning lecture. His talk, following up on one about an earlier generation of Bohemians at last year's conference, focuses on the post-World War II era.

"Learn more about the interconnected band of bohemians, beatniks, flower-children, and hippies who created an art, architecture, and cultural paradise along the entire Pacific coast, from the remote reaches of northern California, south to the beaches of San Diego," he writes.

And, the event you can't miss: the 'San Diego Modernism Tour,' going from the stripped-down proto-modernism of Irving Gill to Louis Kahn's famous Salk Institute.

For tickets and more information on the 2015 California Preservation Conference, click here.