The Charmer (India & Chalmers)
- Project Address: 3625 India Street (at Chalmers Street) San Diego, CA
- Project Owner/ Developer: Jonathan Segal, FAIA
- Owner Contact Name/ Email: Jonathan Segal / firstname.lastname@example.org
- Project Architect/ Designer: Jonathan Segal, FAIA / Matthew Segal
Architect, builder, and developer Jonathan Segal, FAIA, used California courtyard housing communities of the 1920s as a model for The Charmer, a 19-unit multifamily project in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood.
Residents can choose from six one-bedroom bungalows grouped around a central courtyard; 10 three-bedroom units placed outside the bungalows, toward the perimeter of the site; or three two-bedroom units overlooking the courtyard. Five thousand square feet of commercial space occupies the ground level on the complex’s east end. All of the parking is at grade, and while some spaces are covered to comply with local requirements, most residents park in the landscaped, permeably paved courtyard.
From the ArchiKvetch blog (http://archikvetch.blogspot.com/2011/07/charmer-its-beauty-and-moonlight...):
"Clean and white against the cacophonous funk of Midtown, Jonathan Segal’s latest venture, the Charmer, could be a lost piece of Stuttgart’s famous Weissenhofsiedlung of 1927. The Bauhaus inspired architects of the Weimar Republic were exploring industrial and scientifically based models of living to replace traditions challenged by technology and rapid urban growth. Here, San Diego’s most visible architect/developer continues to explore the intricacies of traditional row homes and, in these economically anorexic times, maintain a positive spreadsheet. Corbu and Mies may have asked “architecture or revolution?” but Segal might ask “architecture or recession?”
Crisp volumes etched with elegantly proportioned black window frames step down a hillside site towards busy, one-way India Street. Here in Midtown India loses its Little Italy charm and functions more as a freeway access road. Charming in their own way, the bungalows and ‘50s apartments, car repair and other gritty services provides Segal’s project a messy counterpoint to the self contained “calme, luxe et volupte” qualities of this neo-modernist exercise.
From the street, the Charmer provides few clues to the individual unit layouts, aiming for a larger compositional unity with those large open windows, open walkways, balconies and expanses of white stucco, while the enigmatic entries within the court coyly declaim their physical separation. Here the ghost of Segal’s previous etudes on the row house model are apparent - and these post-modern and neo-traditional elements rub shoulders well with Segal’s new International Style moves.
Consisting of two more or less U shaped buildings surrounding a parking/entry courtyard, the project is remarkable for the apparent openness of the units – window treatments will be in demand- and the embrace of one California tradition often praised but rarely revived – the bungalow court. Esther McCoy’s “The Second Generation” must have been a constant reference point for the design team. This neo-modernist touchstone is certainly “The American Vignola” for a certain generation of California architects, and whether generally referencing Corbusier’s Villa Savoye or possibly Raphael Soriano’s Colby Apartments of 1952, the focus on the courtyard pays deep homage to McCoy’s sensibilities regarding the possibilities of civilized and gracious accommodations for communal living.
The Charmer celebrates this place between the units – where before - at least on Mr. Segal's stern pro forma, only each unit’s financial stats would have been honored."