MS 247 Lloyd Ruocco Papers

Summary Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection
Ruocco, Lloyd
Lloyd Ruocco Papers
MS 247
Date [inclusive]
0.5 Linear feet (1 box)
Language of Materials
Collection materials are in English, Spanish and German.
The Lloyd Ruocco Papers contain materials relating to prominent San Diego Architect Lloyd Ruocco, including some of his professional portfolios, correspondence, and articles written by and about Ruocco.

Preferred Citation

Lloyd Ruocco Papers, MS 247, San Diego History Center Document Collection, San Diego, CA.

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Biographical / Historical Notes

Born in Maine to an English mother and Italian father, Lloyd Ruocco (1907- May 10, 1981) eventually became one of San Diego’s most influential architects. He was raised in Canada and moved to San Diego in 1922. After completing a degree in architecture at U.C. Berkeley, he returned to San Diego and became known as a “visionary architect” for both his private residences and his public buildings. He later married Ilse Hamman, a professor of art at San Diego State University who worked with him as an interior designer. Ruocco’s best-known accomplishments include the Children’s Zoo (1955), the Geophysics Building at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography (1964), and the Civic Theatre (1965). His office on Fifth Avenue, known as the “Design Center,” became famous for its unique style that integrated humans and nature. Ruocco also designed numerous homes around San Diego including his own home completed in 1945 in La Mesa, which he called “Il Cavo.” In 1945 Ruocco co-founded the Allied Artists’ Council, and in 1961 he founded the Citizens’ Coordinate for Century 3, an action group that sought to promote urban design and aesthetics. In 1974 Ruocco became a fellow of the American Institute of Architects. Lloyd Ruocco was well known for his ideas of a “kinderpath” town,” which would connect human structures with nature, and of Centre City, an idealized urban center that would promote the well-being of its residents. Ruocco openly professed his ideas of how modular homes could be the answer to the problem of tract housing, specifically the ability to grow with a family. Though none of these ideas were ever actualized, Ruocco’s contributions to San Diego architecture and his charitable works are still recognized throughout the world.

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Scope and Content

The Lloyd Ruocco papers contain biographical information, professional portfolios, correspondence from the public, and writings by and about San Diego architect Lloyd Ruocco. Biographical information includes a brief biography covering the professional career of Ruocco following his graduation from U.C. Berkeley in 1933 through 1976, as well as a brief timeline of the activities involved in by both Ruocco and his wife. There are three professional portfolios included in the collection: the first on the L.Ruocco Architectural Firm associates and projects, including two reference letters; the second created upon the nomination of Ruocco to become a fellow of the American Institute of Architects; and the third containing information regarding the Rabinowitz residence designed by Ruocco in 1955. Also included are a number of articles by and about Ruocco, as well as an unpublished manuscript by Ruocco. Additionally there is much correspondence addressed to Ruocco from the public in response to his views expressed on a television program in 1960 on the subject of modular homes. Lastly, there are a few items related to Ruocco’s personal life such as a letter from his lawyer with a Disclaimer attached regarding the Estate of Ruocco’s parents, and also an invitation to a memorial service in Ruocco’s honor held at the Geophysics Building at the Scripps Institute of Oceanography, a building he designed.

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Items in collection are arranged by subject.

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Administrative Information

Publication Information

San Diego History Center Document Collection November 1, 2011

1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA, 92101

Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials. SDHC Library regulations do apply.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number 900104 and 2003.074.

Processing Information

Collection processed by Alison Hennessey on November 1, 2011.

Collection processed as part of grant project supported by the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) with generous funding from The Andrew Mellon Foundation.

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Controlled Access Headings

Corporate Name(s)

  • American Institute of Architects.
  • Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego.
  • San Diego Civic Theatre.
  • San Diego Zoo.
  • Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Geographic Name(s)

  • San Diego (Calif.)

Personal Name(s)

  • Ruocco, Ilse
  • Ruocco, Lloyd


  • Architecture
  • Artists
  • Modular construction
  • Modular coordination (Architecture)

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Collection Inventory

Biographical information, 1978 and undated

Scope and Content:

Brief career biography on Lloyd Ruocco and timeline of activities and involvement (1946-1956) for Lloyd and Ilse Ruocco

L. Ruocco Architectural Firm portfolio and reference letters, 1961-1964 and undated

Scope and Content:

Resumes of Lloyd Ruocco and associates as well as project experience listing and cost details.

American Institute of Architects Nomination Portfolio, 1978


Photographs of select designs by Lloyd Ruocco for the purpose of Ruocco’s nomination for fellowship to the American Institute of Architects

Published works, 1960 April-1963 1:4
“City, I am your child… fill me with life” (unpublished manuscript), undated 1:5
Rabinowitz Project, 1955 January

Scope and Content:

Portfolio containing architectural drawings and photographs of the Rabinowitz house project

Audience response, 1960 April 5-29 and undated

Scope and Content:

Mail received by Ruocco from San Diego residents in response to a television program on the subject of his ideas for modular homes.

Audience response, 1960 May 1-21 and undated

Scope and Content:

Mail received by Ruocco from San Diego residents in response to a television program on the subject of his ideas for modular homes.

Magazine and journal articles, 1958 March-1983 1:9
Newspaper articles, 1944 September 17–1981 June 21 1:10
Miscellanea, 1970 March 31–1981 and undated


Disclaimer from Lloyd Ruocco’s lawyer regarding the Estate of Raphaele Thomas Ruocco

Invitation to the memorial service for Lloyd Ruocco

Poem by Margaret Price, May 12, 1981

Partial pamphlet for ARTFACTS talk given at the San Diego Fine Arts Gallery


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