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County Administration Center Designed by architects Samuel W. Hamill, Louis Gill, Richard Requa, and William Templeton Johnson, the WPA-funded project was civic leader George Marston’s last great effort. On July 16, 1938, San Diego’s birthday, it was dedicated with great fanfare by the President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt.


George Marston was a proponent of the City Beautiful Movement, which factored greatly into the design of the Civic Center and the selection of its spectacular harbor-front location. Red tile roofs, glazed inlaid pottery tile, and arched door and window openings intentionally reflect the Spanish Colonial Revival style architecture found in Balboa Park, with the added strong influence of classical Beaux Arts. The architecture also incorporates elements of WPA Moderne and ZigZag Moderne. Constructed of poured concrete, the exterior pays tribute to San Diego government with a rich display of architectural detailing and symbolism. Decorative tile thought to be Gladding, McBean from Tropico Potteries adorns the ten-foot tower rising above the entrance, as well as the arches above and surrounding the entry doors and windows.


Images on the tiled central panel above the west entrance symbolize parts of San Diego’s history, beginning with the date of its discovery and working upward to a fish, a naval vessel, the California tower, and an airplane inlaid with the date of construction.


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