With the assistance of Carleton M. Winslow and Clarence Stein from his New York office and of Frank P. Allen, Jr. in San Diego, Bertram Goodhue conjured up a fairytale city in Balboa Park of cloud-capped towers, gorgeous palaces and solemn temples.
The Balboa Park buildings contained reminiscences of missions and churches in Southern California and Mexico and of palaces and homes in Mexico, Spain and Italy. Muslim details, such as minaret-like towers, reflecting pools, colored tile inlays, and human-size urns highlighted the buildings. Arcades, arches, bells, colonnades, domes, fountains, pergolas, towers with contrasting silhouettes, views through gates of shaded patios, and vistas exposing broad panoramas provided variety. A low-lying cornice line and closely-spaced buildings helped preserve a sense of continuity.
Goodhue, Winslow, and Allen hoped the eclectic Spanish style buildings and mix of ornamental planting they were introducing would offer a festive, country-like alternative to the cold, formalized Renaissance and Neo-Classical styles that American architects had been using at fairs and in cities since the dazzling success of the World Columbian Exposition of 1893 in Chicago.