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Photo credit: Carlie Galloway

Plastic Mobility: The Challenge of Preserving Modern Materials and Assemblies

Tuesday, October 10, 2017, 6:00pm &
Wednesday, October 11, 2017, 1:30pm

Archtoberfest is a month-long celebration of all things architecture, design, planning, and sustainability in San Diego. Join us for a special lecture by noted preservation architect Milford Wayne Donaldson FAIA, who presently serves as the Chairman of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation (ACHP).

The Futuro house, built in 1969 out of plastic, and once housed behind the Design Center in San Diego, reflects the optimism during the exciting era of space exploration when people believed technology could solve all problems for the human race. From Disneyland’s 1959 Monsanto House of the Future, to Japan’s 1963 Sekisui Cabin, to Matti Suuronen’s 1969 Futuro house and finally to Elbert Speidel’s modular 1972 Poly-Pods, these projects epitomize Space Age style, a period of optimistic, futuristic aesthetics when earthbound designers of plastics let their creative spirits soar into orbit – and we gladly went along for the ride.

Come hear architect Milford Wayne Donaldson FAIA as he traces the historical development of Plastics in Architecture, with a focus on the social context and preserving the Futuro house and Poly-Pods. Designed as permanent homes and constructed entirely out of reinforced plastic, at the time a new, lightweight and inexpensive material, the Futuro and Poly-Pods were easy to transport and construct, or were they? Join him on his journey to go boldly where no man has gone before, as he faces challenges of designing, development, transporting, restoring plastic materials, code compliance, and looking towards the future of preserving these unique cultural resources. Wear your favorite space suit and become a blast from the past as we celebrate the imagined future that almost happened.

This lecture is being offered twice. Pre-registration is strongly encouraged for both as seating is limited.

Location: San Diego History Center
Date: Tues, Oct 10, 6:00pm, Evening Event
Includes beer/wine ticket and light reception with Mr. Donaldson
Tickets: $10/$15

Location: San Diego History Center
Date: Wed, Oct 11, 1:30pm, AfternoonEvent
Tickets: Free with admission

Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA

Mr. Donaldson is President of award-winning Architect Milford Wayne Donaldson, FAIA, Inc. since 1978, specializing in historic preservation services. He is licensed to practice architecture in California, Nevada, and Arizona and holds a certified license from the National Council of Architectural Registration Boards.  Mr. Donaldson is affiliated with several historical and preservation organizations and is a past president of the California Preservation Foundation (CPF) and past chairs of the State Historical Building Safety Board, the State Historical Resources Commission, and the Historic State Capitol Commission.

Mr. Donaldson served as the California State Historic Preservation Officer from 2004-2012.   During Mr. Donaldson’s tenure as SHPO, he has defended Section 106 process of the National Historic Preservation Act, has led the national initiative towards the sustainability and greening of historic resources. On June 1, 2010, Mr. Donaldson was appointed Chair of the Advisory Council on Historic Preservation by President Barack Obama and currently holds that position.

Mr. Donaldson holds a Bachelor of Architecture and a Bachelor of Science in Engineering from California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo. He engaged in postgraduate studies at Uppsala University, Sweden, and received a Master of Science degree in Architecture from the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, and a Master of Arts degree in Public History and Teaching from the University of San Diego.

In 1991, The California Council of the American Institute of Architects acknowledged Mr. Donaldson for his statewide leadership in the interpretation of the California Historical Building Code that allowed the rehabilitation of historic buildings. In 1992, the American Institute of Architects inducted Mr. Donaldson into the College of Fellows.

Futuro House Auction

Win a 4-day/3-night stay at the Futuro House for you and a guest plus a package of literature about one of the most unique houses in Southern California!

Bidding begins at $500.00.

Futuro House Package includes:

  • 4-day/3-night stay at Futuro House for two
  • One vintage issue of Playboy Magazine, 1970, with an extensive article about the house titled, “The Portable Playhouse!”
  • Issues of California Modern with expose on the Futuro House’s innovative and futuristic design.



October 10, 2017
6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Free – $15
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San Diego History Center
1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA 92101 United States
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San Diego History Center
(619) 232-6203 ext. 111