1958 – Many Beginnings: A pivotal time for the 27-year-old artist, James Hubbell: he married Anne Stewart; began building his home on a mountain site in Santa Ysabel, California; and started working with Sim Bruce Richards on most of his buildings in a rare art-and-architecture partnership which lasted until Richards’ death in 1984. Anne Hubbell describes this time in “Building from the Earth Up”:
The echo of wedding bells was still in the air when James and I acquired this land in 1958. Our intent was to create a home that appeared to grow out of the landscape and blend naturally with the gifts of nature. After fashioning a road that curved through the silvery sage and chaparral and digging a deep well through the granite, we started to build.
No bulldozers were used and footings were hand-dug. Wildflowers and brush were kept and appreciated for their beauty without irrigation. Weekends were involved with picnic work parties as friends helped us mix cement and gather rocks in a little red wagon. And so with the stone from this land, adobe bricks, and cedar from a sawmill in Julian, the first structure was accomplished.
Our family was able to stretch out and enjoy more spacious quarters in 1962 when we moved into the living, dining and kitchen dwelling.
1960’s to 1980’s – Building / Art Training: In the 1960’s four sons were welcomed into the home, bringing a need for more space, and offering more helping hands. From a young age, the Hubbell sons helped their parents build. Drew participated in all aspects of construction on their property, including laying adobe bricks, welding, setting mosaic tile, and framing.
1983 to 1988 – Architecture School: Committed to extending artistic respect for nature into the practicalities of building that he learned growing up at Ilan Lael, Drew studied architecture in the US and Europe. Later travels to Asia and East Africa further expanded his design vocabulary and his appreciation for solutions suited to local environments.
1987 – First Commission…for an underwater house:
Drew proposed designing an underwater structure for his architectural thesis at the University of Arizona. Liz Marshall knew of this interest, so she commissioned Drew and James Hubbell to execute a design for an underwater house near Wind’n’Sea Beach off the coast of La Jolla. Its circular design includes a dining room, kitchen, living room, a butterfly library, bath, garden, elevator, and mermaid/dolphin visiting room.
1988 to 1994 – Historic Renovation Training: Drew worked as an intern and project architect for renowned historic restoration architect Milford Wayne Donaldson, who was appointed California State Historic Preservation Officer in 2004. This experience gave Drew a great appreciation for historic building techniques including adobe and un-reinforced masonry structures, as well as passive design strategies often incorporated into older buildings.
Nov. 1995 – Hubbell & Hubbell is Formed: Drew decided to put his skills and knowledge to work in tandem with his father’s, and set up Hubbell & Hubbell Architects as a small architecture firm specializing in green building processes and materials. Although geographically located in different parts of San Diego County–Drew worked from his North Park 2 on 1 Craftsman fixer-upper and James worked out of his Santa Ysabel art studio, their collaborations were close. Many early projects were residential remodels with an early focus on green building materials and techniques.
1997 – First Straw Bale Building Permitted in San Diego County: Drew Hubbell created a source book educating building officials about new state law permitting straw bale construction and answered concerns about the building method. The County accepted post-and-beam construction with straw bale infill as a viable construction method, and the 500 square-foot Shimeall Guesthouse in Borrego Springs became the first permitted structure in the County of San Diego.
1998 – Office Move: Hubbell & Hubbell Architects moved from North Park into a studio adjacent to Balboa Park. Drew and associates designed and constructed their own tenant improvement project, transforming an old dentists office into an open-plan workspace with ample daylighting. Interns helped build custom shelves, magazine racks, and desks from green materials such as bamboo and wheat board.
2000 – First Green Building Permitted in San Diego County: The Moppel Residence near Mount Woodson was the first building to receive a building permit under San Diego County’s new Green Building program. This program trims 15% off permitting costs and expedites the permitting process so that green buildings can move from the drawing board to the construction phase more quickly than conventional projects.
2003 - First Straw Bale, Commercial Building Permitted in City of San Diego: A model of community participation and consensus-building between two churches and two non-profits, the Friends Center was designed as a showcase “green” building and demonstration site for state-of-the-art environmentally sustainable building techniques. Hubbell & Hubbell worked with the City of San Diego building officials to gain acceptance for post-and-beam, straw-bale construction with lime plaster. We also created a special inspection program for City Inspectors to use when reviewing straw-bale construction.
Oct. 2003 – Ilan-Lael Damaged by Cedar Fire: Four of the eight buildings on the Hubbell home and studio site were destroyed by wildfire. Over a period of three years, donations from friends and members of the Ilan-Lael Foundation helped restore the damaged buildings. Drew worked with the building department to obtain permits for rebuilding the damaged structures using green, fire-resistive, and energy-efficient strategies.
2004 – Educating Public about Fire-Wise Building: Drew was asked to join the Natural History Museum’s Wildfire Curriculum Group where he shared lessons learned during his parents’ and clients’ rebuild projects. He presented to community groups, architects, and the International Wildfire Congress hosted by the San Diego Natural History Museum in 2006. Following the 2007 wildfires, architects Drew Hubbell and Juergen Zierler volunteered with Green-Spark.Org to assist and encourage homeowners to use sustainable and fire-resistant construction when rebuilding their homes.
2006 – Certified Small Business: We were granted certified small business status with the State of California on May 24, 2006, SBE certificate # 41793.
2007 – Green Planning and Building in Tribal Communities: Redesigning the San Pasqual Tribe’s fire-damaged cultural center and residence quickly extended to consulting and education for tribal communities. In 2008 we teamed with Dyron Murphy Architects—a Navajo-owned architectural firm from Albuquerque, New Mexico—to offer excellent green design for the Native American community. In 2009 Drew presented examples of sustainable design and development to Rincon tribal leaders, and served on the Rincon Band’s 2010 Environmental Technical Advisory Board helping to develop a 20 year sustainability plan for the Rincon Tribal Government. Drew was honored to be a presenter for the “Green within Reach: Renewable Energy and Housing in Indian Country” session at the National American Indian Housing Council (NAIHC) Convention in New Orleans in May 2009.
2007 – Green Roofs, Living Roofs Permitted: Vegetated roofs take root in the City of San Diego, San Diego County, and City of Encinitas on projects including a nature center in Elfin Forest, remodel in Mission Hills, and detached art studio in Olivenhain.
Apr. 2010 – First Project in Africa: Drew Hubbell visited the site of a future Gorilla Research Clinic in the Bwindi Impenetrable National Park in Uganda. Hubbell & Hubbell Architects provided sustainable, schematic design services for a new Gorilla Research Center for Conservation Through Public Health (CTPH)–a grassroots, non-profit organization founded by Ugandans focused on conserving critically endangered mountain gorillas by improving health and education conditions in surrounding communities.