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Vintage San Diego: A Starchitect is Born

August 1974


Spread from the August 1974 issue of San Diego Magazine

By the Numbers

17Years Quigley and his team worked on the library, from design to completion

60+ - Versions of the library dome before 
the final design

3,400 - Daily visitors at
the new San Diego 
Central Library 

$185 million - Cost of the new Central Library

4Different sites considered for the library before the East Village was selected

$447,000 - Median sale
price of homes in the
East Village 

Rob Quigley is one of the most prominent architectural figures in San Diego, best known for his skyline-altering design of the new public library downtown. But back in the early ’70s, he was a little-known aspiring architect with no solo projects in his portfolio. He had recently left the firm he was working for and purchased a humble five-unit apartment building in Ocean Beach. Quigley worked out of the back bedroom and launched his own firm, Rob Wellington Quigley, FAIA, within its walls. Upon completion, San Diego Magazine ran the above article about the project. It was the first time he had ever been published. “I’ll never forget it. It was a big deal to a young architect,” he recalls, telling the story of how his friend spotted the cover as they were driving down Newport Avenue and jumped out of the car to buy the issue. Since then, his work and name have appeared in these pages dozens of times. This month, we showcase Quigley’s latest feat, “Torr Kaelan,” a modern five-story building in the East Village that serves as his current home and office. Design-wise, it’s a far cry from that original building in O.B. But like so many things, you never forget your first.

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