Archibald Quincy Jones, FAIA (1913–1979) was a prolific Los Angeles-based architect and educator known for innovative buildings in the modernist style and for urban planning that pioneered the use of greenbelts and green design.
Jones was born in Kansas City, Missouri, in 1913. He was raised in the city of Gardena in Southern California, but finished high school in Seattle. Afterwards he enrolled in the University of Washington program in architecture, where he was particularly influenced by faculty member Lionel Pries, and graduated with Bachelor of Architecture (B.Arch.) in 1936.
After marrying a fellow architecture student (Ruth Schneider), Jones returned to Los Angeles, working first in the offices of the modernist architects Douglas Honnold and George Vernon Russell from 1936 to 1937, and Burton A. Schutt from 1937 to 1939.
From 1939 to 1940, he worked for the renowned architect, Paul R. Williams. Next he worked for Allied Engineers, Inc. of San Pedro from 1940 to 1942, where he met the architect Frederick Emmons, with whom he would later partner. Jones was responsible for the development and layout of Roosevelt Base in San Pedro and the Naval Reserve Air Base in Los Alamitos.
In 1942, Jones received his California architect certification, divorced and received a commission as a lieutenant commander in the United States Navy. He was assigned to the aircraft carrier USS Lexington, which was serving in the Pacific theater.
Discharged from the Navy in 1945, Jones returned to Los Angeles and opened an architectural office in one of the two buildings of the house in Laurel Canyon he had built with his former wife. On his first day in business Jones had secured his first client.
The years after the war again saw Jones partnering with Paul R. Williams on several projects in the Palm Springs area. These include the Palm Springs Tennis Club (1947), the Town & Country restaurant (1948), and the restaurant Romanoff's On the Rocks (1950). Jones also participated in John Entenza's Case Study House program.
The December 1950 issue of the magazine Architectural Forum featured a ""Builder's House of the Year"" designed by A. Quincy Jones. The same issue also awarded the innovative Palo Alto building magnate Joseph Eichler ""Subdivision of the Year"". Eichler then invited Jones to tour the Palo Alto development he had just completed where he suggested to Jones that the Builder of the Year team with the Architect of the Year. This relationship continued until Eichler's death in 1974.
It was through this relationship that Jones was provided both the venue and the freedom to implement his concepts of incorporating park-like common areas in tract housing developments. His were some of the first greenbelts incorporated into moderate income tract housing in the United States. In 1960, Jones was hired by William Pereira as a planning partner in the development of the city of Irvine, California, which has since become a model for the integration of greenbelts into urban development.
The Eichler commission prompted Jones to form a partnership with his prewar acquaintance, architect Frederick Emmons. The Jones and Emmons partnership lasted from 1951 until Emmons' retirement in 1969. Their designs are reflected in some 5,000 of Eichler's homes, by Emmons' estimate. Jones and Emmons were awarded national AIA Firm of the Year in 1969.
Jones was also a professor and later dean of architecture at the University of Southern California's School of Architecture from 1951 through 1967. By the 1960s Jones was designing a number of university campus buildings and larger office buildings, including the 1963 IBM Aerospace Headquarters in Westchester, California. Several University of California campuses feature significant examples of Jones' work. In 1966 Jones designed ""Sunnylands,"" the 650 acre (2.6 km²) estate and 32,000 square foot (3,000 m²) home of Walter Annenberg in Rancho Mirage, California.
Jones raised the tract house in California from the simple stucco box to a logically designed structure integrated into the landscape and surrounded by greenbelts. He introduced new materials as well as a new way of living within the built environment and popularized an informal, outdoor-oriented open plan. More than just abstractions of the suburban ranch house, most Jones and Emmons designs incorporated a usable atrium, high ceilings, post-and-beam construction and walls of glass. For the postwar moderate-income family, his work bridged the gap between custom-built and developer-built homes.
Jones often took advantage of industrial prefabricated units to provide affordable yet refined architecture. His larger buildings brought innovations to the integration of mechanical systems, improving their efficiency and maximizing retrievable space. Jones' aesthetic style, precise detailing and siting made his buildings quintessential embodiments of mid-century American architecture.
A. Quincy Jones by Cory Buckner. Phaidon Press Inc., May 2002. 272 pages. ISBN 0-7148-4074-2
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