When it comes to unique architecture, San Diego has officially become a national standout, and buyers have been scrambling to find special properties in every nook and cranny of the county. A new boutique real estate firm, Agents of Architecture, plans to make finding that dream home easier with a signature mix of extensive expertise and boundless enthusiasm. Even their Hillcrest headquarters, a hybrid office-retail-gallery space in an Egyptian Revival–style building, celebrates local design.
“We have a lot more people moving here looking for authentic historic properties or original design integrity,” says founder and broker Jeff Walker. A former Sotheby’s agent and Mission Hills resident with a passion for pristine vintage homes, from Craftsman and Spanish-style to urban lofts, Walker wanted to take a more tailored, local approach to marketing San Diego real estate. He brought on modern architecture authority Keith York as his first additional agent.
“If we understand and appreciate its uniqueness, it’s in our wheelhouse,” explains York, whose Modern San Diego website is a go-to source for enthusiasts of regional midcentury architecture and beyond. “It’s not the cookie-cutter version of any type of architectural style.”
Walker recently closed escrow on a midcentury Point Loma home by boldface local architect Richard Wheeler, overlooking Plumosa Park. He says increasing awareness is a core part of the company mission: “Something more classic is going to retain its value and people are going to want to keep it up and enjoy it for longer.”
Agents of Architecture’s fresh approach to real estate includes an inspiring office space. Housed in a 1927 building with edificial Egyptian motifs, it doubles as a consignment shop and gallery packed with curated midcentury-modern finds—items such as Bertoia Diamond chairs originally purchased for a John Lloyd Wright house in Rancho Santa Fe, and vintage Persian rugs from La Mesa vendor Mesa Vintage. Also on offer are pieces by notable San Diegans like potter David Stewart and artist Marjorie “Marj” Hyde, the eponym of Grossmont College’s Hyde Art Gallery.
“We both said, ‘Wouldn’t it be cool if people could come in and talk about art and design and pick up a piece of ceramics?’” says York. “And maybe talk about buying a house. It’s been a fun and engaging way to practice our professional work and lives.”
A Nod to the Icons
Agents of Architecture’s space is the perfect place to pay homage to icons of local design. The gallery opened with Julius Shulman: Modern San Diego, a look at the iconic midcentury architectural photographer who made more than 200 visits to San Diego. In May, the space highlights Sim Bruce Richards, who trained at Taliesin (East) and became one of San Diego’s most notable midcentury architects. This will be followed by a summer showcase of pioneering architect Irving Gill, whose work includes some of San Diego’s most revered buildings, like the Marston House and the Scripps Institution of Oceanography.
The Gill exhibit will debut a new book, The Sacred Architecture of Irving Gill, focused on the architect’s local church designs. It’s written by Mark Hargreaves, an English reverend and architecture aficionado Keith York met through a shared love of design—just the kind of connection Agents of Architecture thrives on finding.