Daly City Tour Won’t Be Ticky Tacky

Tobias
Marjorie Tobias School in Daly City, formerly Vista del Mar school, is a bold circular design by Mario Ciampi. Photos by Dave Weinstein

Malvina Reynolds famously sang of “Little Boxes” (“made of ticky-tacky,”) but if you love modern design you may want to celebrate these charming little boxes rather than mock them. A good way to do so is by joining Docomomo on a driving tour of Daly City.

The tour, 10:30 to 12:30 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 12, is one of about 50 tours being put on nationally by Docomomo, an international organization of architectural historians, architects, and other fans of modernism.

The Daly City tour is being run by Docomomo NoCa (it stands for Documentation and Conservation of the Modern Movement, Northern California branch). Cost is $10, if you’re not a member.

‘Sitting Pretty in Daly City: A Driving Tour of Post-War Community Development’ will take in homes by developer Henry Doelger, who made a fortune developing mostly row houses in San Francisco’s Sunset district, then moved to the foggy Westlake district of Daly City in 1948.

His homes there ranged from traditional to radical, featuring some quirky designs by designer Ed Hageman.

House
Ed Hageman designed the facade of this Doelger home in Westlake, one of many such Hageman designs that give the neighborhood much of its panache. Hageman called this model "fish and chips" because it looked to him like a fish and chips stand.

“Doelger also built the infrastructure to service Westlake, including a community center and shopping center,” Docomomo writes. “Although derided over the years, along with the rest of Daly City's post-war development, as ‘little boxes of ticky tack,’ Westlake displays a higher level of design than was typically available in the Post-war suburbs of the merchant builders.”

Also featured on the tour will be schools designed by architect Mario Ciampi.

"The schools by Mario Ciampi demonstrate that good Modern architecture can be built even on an extremely limited budget. However they also demonstrate how important it is to keep these Modern buildings on everyone's radar as they can very easily fall into disrepair," says Docomomo NoCa president Justin Greving.

Architectural historian Christopher VerPlanck will give an introductory talk at the gathering spot, the Henry Doeger Senior Center, a former school designed by Ciampi. Author Rob Keil will also speak. There will be several stops along the way, attendees are encouraged ride-share, and to drive vintage cars, of course. Those who prefer to ride can be matched with drivers.

Folks with an appetite at tour’s end are encouraged to partake of a meal at the Sea Bowl in Pacifica, a vintage bowling alley with a restaurant.

Another house
Another Westlake home with a modern vibe, by a designer unknown to us.

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