Eugene Ray SDSU 1970's

Eugene Ray SDSU 1970's
Eugene Ray 1970's. photo credit: Tom Davis

The Silver Ship 1978, La Jolla Calfornia

The Silver Ship photo credit Mario Lara

The Silver Ship was designed by Eugene Ray, while I was a student in his Environmental Design Program at San Diego State University. This was his private residence and studio. A core of five students toiled by hand to make this house a reality. We dug the foundations by hand, and hauled all of the materials up from Nautilus street on our backs.

Mario Lara, Jack Houston, Dennis Woodard, Chris Jung and myself all lived (barely) to tell the tale of the building of the silver ship. The following photos are primarily from the archives of Mario Lara, and few are from Eugene. I am posting comments that were made about these images originally posted on facebook.

  • Mario Lara The finished Silver Ship. I'm amazed it all came together considering what little experience any of us had in construction. I would drive by over the years expecting to see the structure in ruins at the bottom of the hill but was always amazed that it still stood on that steep hillside. I remember Gene got a good deal on the property because it had been declared unbuildable by the City.
  • J
    Jack Houston thats a great photo of the silver ship.remember hanging upside down on climbing ropes to install corrugated galv. roofing? how about those sandwiches gene served us. um um um ???
  • David Fobes I remember hanging Chris upside down, dangling from a rope, and stopping traffic on Nautilus strreet!
    Nancie Greenfield Thanks for the great posts. Good memories of structures, design projects, and handsome male classmates! Anyway, I was busy doing interior design and making googly-eyes at Roger!!...See More
  • David Fobes You are part of our shared memory! I remember meeting you at a bonfire at one of the beaches (Marine street?)in La Jolla, Gene introduced us.
  • Nancie Greenfield I only remember how handsome you and Mario were!! I did get my first big interior design job because of Gene and I am still friends with that family. They called the school and Gene told them about me and I got the job! I think that was 1976...

 The Gang of Four 1978
Mario Lara, David Fobes, Chris Jung, Jack Houston

(where is Dennis?)

  • Mario Lara Gene and Dave on site (I'm behind the camera). Getting the back conc. slab and the first floor framing in place was a big deal because we now had a flat place to work. It took a tremendous amount of labor to get to this point but there was no denying the spectacular view.

June 28, 2011

I'm sure many of us remember how we had to dig out a flat area on the hill for a conc. foundation and slab by hand using picks and shovels. We built this "wildebeest" structure as a way to direct all the dirt down to the bottom of the hill. Why the City never cited us for improper disposal of dirt remains a mystery.

  • David Fobes actually I think they finally did, and Gene had to pay to get rid of it

  • David Fobes our homemade come along/crane. We used this to lift the very heavy 1/2" thick steel gusset plates into. What we lacked in experience, we made up for in hair and huevos.
  • Mario Lara Constructing the "Bridge" truss structure. We had to construct our own craned to hoist the metal connector plates for anchoring the wood members. We cut all the wood members on sit...See More
  • David Fobes one trick I used many years later. We laid the truss elevation out in chalk on the sub-floor, full scale, and cut wood members to fit. It was exhilarating work every day.

                        The bridge truss bearing the full load of the second floor and roof structures.

    Somehow Mario managed to get across the Nautilus Street canyon to shoot this
    showing the beautiful Lamella truss and the second floor bridge truss 

  • Mario Lara The attic doors leading to the roof deck. there were very few straight lines in the building so there was alot of custom building of doors and windows.

Chris Jung and Jack Houston hanging overboard the Silver Ship

  • Mario Lara Chris Jung and Jack (?) installing the redwood bender board exterior siding. Jack is sitting on a cantilevered rig that we built just for this purpose.
  • David Fobes yep thats Jack Houston!
  • Mario Lara Thanks for the correction.
  • Jack Houston that rig was way uncomfortable.amazing that the bender board held up to the elements for so long.
  • David Fobes Like an old roofing friend of mine used to say "No Job too Steep"

    June 28, 2011

    A night shot during the open house celebrating the completion of construction.

    • David Fobes I do remember this, although under the circumstances of the night, I am not sure how I do.
    • Jack Houston that was quite the night i think we all crashed on the 3rd floor

      Photo: Eugene Ray
      His description of the image:

      >as seen from the front door<
      >caused the breakfast experience<
      >to be radiant with boyancy<

      photo: Eugene Ray
      His description of the image:

      >(seen fom the west)<
      >greenhouse lift-up wondows<
      +180% CANYON VIEW+
      >on left... buffet on right gives<
      >seperation from kitchen.
      >(suspended shelves left)<
      (>mentioned only to dispell belief that
      >my presence was only supervisory<)
      (>wonderful spirits w/<
      >poetry @ lunch<)
      >thanks again to our<
      >dennis and jack<
      >yiuman yeung (now young) built<
      >most of the interior book shelves<
      >and ted spiropolous<
      >carrying the torch<
      >a flash in the night sky<
      gene ray, san diego, california

      June 30, 2011

      A view of the Silver Ship back in March 2007. This is a good view of the parking structure that Dave Fobes and Chris Jung built.

      • Jack Houston actually i also was involved just in foundation phase. i remember digging grade beam ,standing in 8'-0''h. footing trench using shovel and buckets. the inspector came by on a rainy day pulled up on adjacent driveway rolled down his window and approved footing without getting out of his vehicle


  1. Roger Marr ArchitectApril 24, 2013 at 10:48 AM

    Fond memories...David I remember helping you cut the pieces for the lamella roof, I think at the SDSU furniture shop and drilling the shear plate holes on the truss. Eating baloney sandwiches and listening to sax music at lunch.

    Mario I still have mail art you sent me after we moved to Kansas.

    Roger Marr, (Jo and Roger Marr)


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