Guide to the Lloyd Ruocco Papers MS 247

Finding aid prepared by Alison Hennessey
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.
San Diego History Center Document Collection
1649 El Prado, Suite 3
San Diego, CA, 92101
November 1, 2011

Title: Lloyd Ruocco Papers
Identifier/Call Number: MS 247
Contributing Institution: San Diego History Center Document Collection
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 0.5 Linear feet (1 box)
Date (inclusive): 1944-1981
Language of Materials: Collection materials are in English, Spanish and German.
Abstract: 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.
creator: Ruocco, Lloyd

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The San Diego History Center (SDHC) holds the copyright to any unpublished materials.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

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.

Preferred Citation

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


Items in collection are arranged by subject.

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.

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.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Accession number 900104 and 2003.074.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

American Institute of Architects.
Fine Arts Gallery of San Diego.
Ruocco, Ilse
Ruocco, Lloyd
San Diego Civic Theatre.
San Diego Zoo.
Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
Modular construction
Modular coordination (Architecture)
San Diego (Calif.)

Box-folder 1:1

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
Box-folder 1:2

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.
Box-folder 1:3

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
Box-folder 1:4

Published works, 1960 April-1963

Box-folder 1:5

"City, I am your child... fill me with life" (unpublished manuscript), undated

Box-folder 1:6

Rabinowitz Project, 1955 January

Scope and Content

Portfolio containing architectural drawings and photographs of the Rabinowitz house project
Box-folder 1:7

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.
Box-folder 1:8

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.
Box-folder 1:9

Magazine and journal articles, 1958 March-1983

Box-folder 1:10

Newspaper articles, 1944 September 17–1981 June 21

Box-folder 1:11

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