We’ve lost one of the great visionaries of organic architecture, and longtime friend of the Hubbell family, Kendrick Bangs Kellogg, architect. James and Anne Hubbell and the Kellogg families have fond memories of spending leisurely days together on the sands at Mission Beach, site of Kellogg’s first residential project. In one highlight of their long relationship, Ken, James, and Wallace Cunningham were featured in a landmark exhibit
at the Mingei International Museum, “Three on the Edge.”

The Kellogg family shares their memories of Ken…

A strong photographic survey of his work can be viewed at usmodernist.org/kellogg.htm.

Kendrick Bangs Kellogg, Architect, died peacefully with family at his side on February 16, 2024 in San Diego, California, at the age of 89. His wide-ranging architectural legacy includes the design of numerous distinctive homes that gained him fame, plus restaurants and offices; he considered everything from a wedding chapel in Japan to a juice bar in La Jolla, California, as worthy design challenges. Among his unbuilt projects are a sports stadium in San Diego and a skyscraper for lower Manhattan (New York City).

His architecture was based on principles over style, with Nature as his guiding light. He was a true hands-on architect and as a licensed contractor he was as comfortable swinging a hammer or operating a bulldozer as sitting at his drafting table doing structural engineering calculations and drafting plans. Though he built many larger buildings with substantial budgets, much of his work was average-sized homes and remodels as creative as his large commissions.

Throughout his long career, Kellogg continued to expand the possibilities of Organic architecture as one of its premiere practitioners in the 20th and 21st centuries. Rooted in the Modern architecture of Wright and Louis Sullivan, Organic architecture draws on the principles and materials of nature for its forms, spaces, and structures, and seeks to unite buildings with their natural setting.

Kellogg was born in San Diego, son of a doctor father and artistically centered mother. His early years were spent on the beaches and estuaries of Mission Bay. In his teens the family moved to rural Lakeside in eastern San Diego County where his activities and interests ranged from Arabian horses and model trains to playing French horn and marching in the 1953 Rose Parade with the Grossmont High School Marching Band.

He started college in 1953 at the University of Colorado, Boulder, intending to study astrophysics. A counselor advised him he needed to choose a different major. As he went down the list of options and read “architecture,” Ken thought “that sounds easy.” His life’s direction and purpose, however, was instantly settled in his second year when he was shown a picture of Frank Lloyd Wright’s famous Fallingwater home in western Pennsylvania.

Kellogg met Frank Lloyd Wright at Taliesin West in mid-1955 and interviewed for an apprenticeship. The meeting left a lasting impression. Wright’s principles, based on Organic architecture concepts, resonated strongly with him. In spite of being invited back in the fall to start an apprenticeship, he declined. In his words, he didn’t want to become a disciple. He wanted to pursue his own “effects and forms.”

He left Boulder and briefly attended college at San Diego State University, the University of Southern California, and the University of California, Berkeley, focusing on math and engineering courses. While attending Berkeley and working for San Diego architect Sim Bruce Richards (a former apprentice of Frank Lloyd Wright) he designed the Russell and Vergie Babcock house in Mission Beach at age twenty-three. Its angular lines, prominent stonework and prow-like copper roofs showed his admiration for Wright and the influence of Sim Bruce Richards, but also a strong personal direction that he would develop over the next fifty-plus years.

Leaving Berkeley, he joined the construction team on the project he designed because he wanted to learn how to build. He had always been interested in construction; growing up in San Diego’s Mission Beach, he scavenged materials to erect forts and buildings in the family’s backyard, and miniature cities in their garage. After completion of the Babcock house, he did not return to school.

Gregarious, down to earth, and ready to laugh, Kellogg became a respected colleague and collaborator in San Diego’s creative community of architects, artists, craftspersons, builders, and clients including James Hubbell, William Slatton and John Vugrin, creating total works of art blending architecture, stained glass, metalwork, and other custom designed features.

San Diego has a rich history of fostering daring and innovative architects, spanning from Irving Gill to Sim Bruce Richards, and including Kellogg himself. The city’s strong ties to Organic architecture are evident. In addition to collaborating with Sim Bruce Richards, Frederick Liebhart, a former apprentice of Wright, formed a close friendship with Kellogg. Furthermore, Kellogg also collaborated with the renowned San Diego architect Dale Naegle.

Kellogg was always closely involved with the construction of his buildings. His skillful and imaginative uses of wood (including glue laminated wood beams and vertical timbers), translucent fiberglass, concrete, and stonework reflected his intimate knowledge of the strengths and potential beauty of each material and its construction.

The Chart House in Dana Point. Photo by Benjamin Ginsberg

In addition to houses, he designed a series of Chart House restaurants from the 1960s in Santa Barbara, Rancho Mirage, Westwood , Redondo Beach, Dana Point, La Jolla, San Diego, Idyllwild in California and one in Jacksonville, Florida, among others.

The Onion House, in Kona, Hawaii. https://inhabitat.com/

Key residential designs included the 1962 McCormick House (often referred to as the Onion house) in Kona, Hawaii — a design that evoked the forms of flowers and seashells with translucent fiberglass vaults lifted on concrete arches. On a hillside in La Jolla the 1981 Yen residence (known as the Lotus house) used curving laminated wood beams to weave together multiple floor levels, inside and outside, responding to the hill and views.

Kellogg’s hoshino stone church in Japan. PHOTO: https://www.designboom.com/architecture/kendrick-kellogg-hoshino-stone-church-04-16-2017/

The 1988 Hoshino Chapel in Japan is one of Kellogg’s masterpieces. A series of concrete arches, embedded with cobblestones, creates an organic, flowing cave-like space, though glass infills between each arch let in natural light through overlapping glass panes.

The Kellogg Doolittle High Desert House in Joshua Tree, CA designed in the 1980s by Ken Kellogg. PHOTO: https://www.kelloggdoolittlehouse.com/stay-here

The Kellogg Doolittle house, another masterpiece, dates to 1990 on the edge of Joshua Tree National Park. Its mushroom-like concrete columns taper into delicate wing-like forms. Each column is freestanding, allowing the open spaces overhead to be filled with glass, letting in natural light. The house miraculously evokes both the protective shelter of a cave and the openness and of an eyrie, while seeming to grow from the extraordinary rock formations unique to Joshua Tree. It is a work of art united with nature.

Kellogg Doolittle house interiors feature organic shapes and built-in boulders. PHOTO: https://www.kelloggdoolittlehouse.com/stay-here

From the 1960s into the 1990s Kellogg was also active in the San Diego community, involved politically with community planning in Mission Beach and Palomar Mountain.  He chaired zoning committees, advisory boards and planning organizations, and served on an AIA task force. In 1977 Governor Brown appointed him to California’s Housing and Community Development Commission. There he worked to simplify over-restrictive portions of the building code and to legislate standards for owner-builders. He also worked to establish height limits for coastal properties to restrict high-rise construction on the shoreline.

Close to his heart was the creation of a school of architecture based on the concepts that he followed, with students actively involved in learning the nature of construction as he had. It was to be on the south slope of Palomar Mountain.  He and some students began experimenting with earth form reinforced concrete structures on the property. The project was never completed.

Yet, in spite of being a notable figure in San Diego and honored in the worldwide Organic architecture community, Kellogg has not received the broader recognition his work deserves. That is partly due to the fact that most of San Diego’s contributions to Modern architecture have long been overlooked. Magazines and journals did publish his works, however. He was invited to speak at European architecture schools. His designs were published in many books.

San Diego’s Mingei International Museum focused a 2014-2015 exhibit and catalog on him, artist James Hubbell, and architect Wallace Cunningham. The three demonstrate the quality and ongoing innovation of San Diego as a cultural center — though it has unfortunately not been widely recognized as such beyond the county limits. Promoting his own work through publications, publicity, and speeches (as most architects do) was not part of Kellogg’s interest. He preferred designing and building. With his death, his legacy is now passed to students, scholars, researchers and architects to make sure the lessons of his architectural works, his principles and his ideas spread.

Kendrick Bangs Kellogg is survived by his wife, Franeva Kellogg; three children from his former marriage, Shanna Kellogg, Klay Kellogg and Bryn Kellogg Hamson (and her husband, Ben Hamson) and their mother Marilyn Kellogg; and five grandchildren.  He was also fortunate to have many other extended family members and friends.

TOP PHOTO: KENDRIK BANKS KELLOGG, COURTESY OF BREN KELLOGG

2 responses to “Remembering Kendrick Bangs Kellogg, Architect, 1934-2024”

  1. Heidi Farkash says:

    omigod. I wondered how he was. I was absolutely mesmerized by him, when i met him during the “Three On the Edge” architectural exhibit at the Mingei Museum. I then listened to him speak several other times. I am so sorry to hear this, but so appreciative you have done such an incredible job writing about him and his work.
    Heidi Farkash

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