When it comes to unique architecture, San Diego has officially become a national highlight, with buyers scrambling in search of special properties in every nook and cranny of the county. A new boutique real estate company, Agents of Architecture, plans to make finding that dream home easier with a signature blend of deep expertise and boundless enthusiasm. Even their Hillcrest headquarters, a hybrid office-shopping-gallery space in an Egyptian Revival-style building, celebrates local design.
“We have a lot more people here looking for authentic historic properties or original design integrity,” says founder and real estate agent Jeff Walker. Walker was a former Sotheby’s agent and resident of Mission Hills with a passion for pristine vintage homes, from artisan and Spanish style to urban lofts. Walker wanted to take a more tailored, local approach to marketing real estate in San Diego. He brought in modern architecture authority Keith York as his first additional agent.
“If we understand and appreciate its uniqueness, it’s in our wheelhouse,” explains York, whose website Modern San Diego is a go-to resource for lovers of mid-century regional architecture and beyond. “It’s not the cookie-cutter version of any type of architectural style.”
Walker recently closed escrow on a mid-century home in Point Loma by local architect Richard Wheeler, overlooking Plumosa Park. He says raising awareness is a core part of the company’s mission statement: “Something classic will keep its value and people will want to keep it and enjoy it longer.”
Agents of Architecture’s fresh approach to real estate includes an inspiring office space. Housed in a 1927 building with Egyptian motifs, it doubles as a consignment shop and gallery filled with curated mid-century modern finds — items such as Bertoia Diamond chairs originally purchased for a John Lloyd Wright home in Rancho Santa Fe, and vintage Persian rugs from La Mesa seller Mesa Vintage. Also on offer are pieces by notable San Diegans such as potter David Stewart and artist Marjorie “Marj” Hyde, the namesake of Grossmont College’s Hyde Art Gallery.
“We both said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if people could come in and talk about art and design and pick up a piece of ceramics?’” York says. “And maybe talk about buying a house. It was a fun and engaging way to practice our professional work and life.”
A nod to the icons
The Agents of Architecture space is the perfect place to pay tribute to icons of local design. The gallery opened with Julius Shulman: Modern San Diego, a look at the iconic mid-century architectural photographer who made more than 200 visits to San Diego. In May, the space highlights Sim Bruce Richards, who trained in East Taliesin and became one of San Diego’s most notable mid-century architects. This is followed by a summer show from pioneering architect Irving Gill, whose work includes some of San Diego’s most revered buildings, such as the Marston House and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
The Gill Exhibition will debut a new book, The Sacred Architecture of Irving Gill, focused on the architect’s local church designs. It was written by Mark Hargreaves, an English clergyman, and architecture enthusiast Keith York met through a shared love of design – exactly the kind of connection Agents of Architecture like to find.