Architect of Downtown Ojai: Richard Requa Biography

1922 Biography of Richard S. Requa from Clarence A. McGrew, City of San Diego and San Diego County, Volume 11 (Chicago and New York: The American Historical Society, 1922, pages 32-33.)

RICHARD S. REQUA is senior member of Requa & Jackson, architects, which recently succeeded the firm of Mead & Requa. The public generally not only in the West,. but in the East, has been made acquainted with these firm names and Mr. Requa’s name in particular by some distinctive achievements that have been widely described and illustrated and have been hailed by competent critics as a distinctive California style of architecture, involving a felicitous handling of lines and details inspired by and suggestive of early Spanish work, hut lacking the crudities of the older so-called Mission style.

Mr. Requa has been a student of the environment in which his work has been done for over twenty years. A son of Edward H. and Sarah J. (Powers) Requa, he was born at Rock Island, Illinois, March 27, 1881. His father was a merchant at Rock Island, but four years later moved to Norfolk, Nebraska, and in 1900 the parents came out to San Diego, where Edward H. Requa died at the age of sixty-four. The mother is still living.

Richard S. Requa is the oldest of three sons and three daughters, all living, and was reared and educated in Nebraska. He attended Norfolk College and early took up the study of electrical engineering. He was nineteen years of age when he came to San Diego in 1900, and he followed the general lines of his earlier professional training here until 1907, when he became associated with Irving J. Gill, then a well known San Diego architect. In 1912 he opened his own office and two years later became associated with Frank Mead as Mead & Requa. The partnership was continued until May, 1920, although during this time Mr. Mead devoted considerable attention to Government work, in which he was interested. Since then the partnership has been known as Requa & Jackson. Mr. Herbert L. Jackson was a silent member of the firm for five years before his name was added to the partnership.

The best commentary that a layman can make on Mr. Requa’s work is to point out some of the notable commissions handled by his firm.

In 1913 Mr. Requa was given practically carte blanche in re-creating and re-building the town of Ojai in Ventura County. It was the first project of the kind ever undertaken in this country. Since then Mr. Requa has been almost continuously employed in similar projects, a work that has taken him all over Southern California. In the fall of 1917 he was appointed Government Architect associated with Albert Kahn, of Detroit, for the construction of the buildings at Rockwell Field, at North Island, and these duties of a patriotic nature employed much of his time until the end of the war.

The Nurses’ Home at the County Hospital, designed and constructed by Mead & Requa, is regarded as one of the most perfect examples of that type of construction in the West. Mr. Requa was architect for the Fallbrook High School and the La Mesa Grammar School, built the Krotona Institute of Theosophy at Hollywood, and a number of residences there. One of these residences was selected by the House Beautiful Magazine as one of the three best homes in Southern California; selected by the Committee of the American Institute of Architects to go on the honor roll as one of the most perfect examples of architecture in the Los Angeles district. Some of the special characteristics of his work as evidenced at San Diego are the Paloma Apartments, the residence of A. H. Sweet, the Barie residence at Coronado. Mr. Requa is now building the San Diego Country Club at Chula Vista.

Mr. Requa is a prominent member of the American Institute of Architects, Southern California Chapter, is a member of the San Diego Arts Guild, and the Archeological Institute of America. During 1914, while touring through Cuba, Panama and the North Coast of South America he prepared a set of slides and has since used them in a number lectures to illustrate the architecture of those countries. Mr. Requa is a member of the San Diego Chamber of Commerce, and the Advertising Club of San Diego.

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