Leonard Veitzer

Architect |

While Leonard Veitzer pursued an aeronautical engineering track at Cal, his fraternity brother majoring in architecture, Ray Kappe, impressed upon him to change his major. Drafted into the US Army during the Korean War, he returned to Cal in 1954. Returning to San Diego in 1958, Leonard secured a position with Dale Naegle before opening his first office by himself in 1960.

Following his passion for skillfully drawing airplanes in high school drafting classes, Leonard Veitzer pursued an aeronautical engineering course at Cal. But looking over the shoulders of fraternity brothers majoring in architecture, including Ray Kappe, Leonard was increasingly impressed by the beautiful and creative work coming off their drawing boards. He liked what he saw and he knew he had the talent to do that as well. It was 1948 and this was his first glimpse into the emerging modernist movement. He was hooked. Leonard decided to change majors.

During that summer he worked in San Diego for a journeyman drafting service where he came to be able to do a complete set of working drawings for a house in four days. Subsequent summers he worked for several local architects.

Being drafted into the US Army during the Korean War after just two years in the architecture program turned out to be the best of good fortunes. He was assigned to teach at a small base in Japan between Tokyo and Yokohama. This afforded him the opportunity to easily explore the country and to appreciate the Japanese way of life, especially its connection to nature, in its art, architecture and the activities of daily life. It was a life-altering year-and-a-half.

Before returning to Cal in 1954, Leonard took a brief summer job with Frederick Liebhardt in a rustic cottage overlooking La Jolla cove. During their many conversations together, they admired the purity and simplicity of the Japanese approach to design, and shared as well a passion for contemporary architecture.

While modernism had become the new wave, the faculty at Cal were still steeped in the beaux-arts tradition. But to their everlasting credit and without stylistic dogma, they taught and emphasized only the most fundamental principles of design, those which could and should be applied to any project. Principles such as proportion, scale, unity, variety, texture, color, composition and relationship of parts to the whole. And the critiques were always valid and to the point, regardless of the students’ design philosophy. Leonard and his classmates were the fortunate beneficiaries of this program - and greatly admired and were influenced by the leading modern architects in the region - Bernard Maybeck, William Wurster, Vernon DeMars, Warren Callister, Jack Hillmer, Joseph Esherick, Harwell Hamilton Harris, Anshen and Allen, Bernardi and Emmons, Mario Ciampi and others.

After graduating from Cal Cum, Leonard worked briefly in Berkeley before traveling around the country. As an experienced draftsman, he found work in New Orleans, Sarasota and New York where he was assistant designer for Harrison & Abramovitz on the Metropolitan Opera House at Lincoln Center. He returned to San Diego in 1958 and a position with Dale Naegle in La Jolla.

Leonard was filled with an almost religious zeal for architecture and was impatient to design his own buildings, and having become licensed in 1960, opened a small office on Fifth and Upas near Hillcrest. He launched his practice with the Mission Square Office Building (1961)
in Mission Valley and a house for an old army buddy Roy Wieghorst. His early influences are evident in the way the Wieghorst house is unobtrusively set into the hillside between two parallel rock retaining walls, the low pitched shake roof, rough-sawn cedar siding inside and out, extensive use of glass, and rock walls quarried from the site.

In 1963, Leonard closed his office and joined the larger firm of Mosher and Drew. During his two years in the office, he was the principal designer of San Diego State’s Aztec Center and a startling high rise apartment building designed for 1200 Prospect Street in La Jolla that was never built.

The office of Architect Leonard Veitzer AIA reopened again on Fifth Avenue in Lloyd and Ilse Ruocco’s Design Center Building. He became very close friends with the Ruoccos, a pioneering and influential couple who were at the forefront of post-war modernism in San Diego. They would often engage in long and spirited discussions about architecture, environment and the responsibilities of architects to society. The Design Center in those days was a nexus for creative professions -- architects, landscape architects, photographers, graphic designers, advertising and modeling agencies, and even a bohemian barber who was also a very talented portrait painter there in her shop. Leonard’s practice flourished in this environment for 20 years with larger projects, including hundreds of student housing units, medical and science buildings at UCSD. And from 1969-1976, he was a part-time adjunct professor in the Art Department at San Diego State University teaching architecture to interior design students.

In 1997, Veitzer was elected to the College of Fellows of the American Institute of Architects.

Partial List of Projects

Aztec Center (1964 )
SDSU Campus
While working for Mosher and Drew

Bazaar del Mundo (1972)
Old Town State Park

Beers Residence Addition (2002)
631 North Crescent Court

Collwood Townhouse Apartments (1969)
4545 Collwood Blvd
This 68-unit apartment complex is now comprised of condominiums

Congregation Beth El (1979)
8660 Gilman Drive

Creaser Residence (1972 )
333 Hilltop Drive, Chula Vista

Dawson Residence (1971)
13612 Nogales Drive, Del Mar

DeKock Residence (1974)
2548 Singing Vista Way, El Cajon

East San Diego Shuffleboard Club (1963)
4077 Fairmount Avenue

Fisch, Arline Studio (1972)
Mission Hills

Frandsen House (1956)
Danville, CA

Goodwin Residence (1998)
Larry Lane, Japatul Valley

Laventhol Residence (2006)
5875 La Jolla Mesa Drive

Lee Residence (1962)

Lincoff, Milton & Miriam Residence (1964)
152 Old Ranch Road, Chula Vista
*Published in Sunset Magazine

Mallery Residence (1976)
1912 Ocean Front, Del Mar

Mission Square Office Building (1961)
3511 Camino Del Rio South

Pacific College of Medical and Dental Assistants (1972)
4411 30th Street

Potrero Park Restrooms (1971)
County Park Potrero

Rosado Residence (1967)
6808 Elaine Way

Rozkansky Medical Office (1984)
3730 Third Avenue

Rust Residence (1962)
Remodeled beyond recognition

Silverman Residence (1966)
4635 Yerba Santa Drive

UCSD 200-Unit Married Student Housing (1975)
UC San Diego

UCSD Ambulatory Care Facility (1987)
UC San Diego

UCSD Center for Magnetic Recording Research (1984)
UC San Diego

UCSD Structural Testing Lab (1984)
UC San Diego

UCSD Warren College 225-Unit Student Housing (1983)
UC San Diego

143-Unit Student Housing (1986)
UC Santa Cruz

Roy Wieghorst Residence I (1960)
5037 Bluff Place, El Cajon

Wieghorst, Roy Residence II (1989)
Sonoita, AZ

Wiener Residence (1969)
1789 Hacienda Place, Fletcher Hills

Woolley Residence (1972)
1090 Solymar Drive