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Saturday, September 23, 2023

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Eugene Ray, University Archives Photograph Collection; courtesy of SDSU Library's Special Collections and University Archives Eugene Ray, University Archives Photograph Collection; courtesy of SDSU Library's Special Collections and University Archives

Downtown Gallery Honors Professor Emeritus and Architect Eugene Ray

A two-month retrospective exhibition commemorates the 50th anniversary of the design educator’s arrival at SDSU.
By Georgia Burgé

Rarely seen original work will be on display at an SDSU Downtown Gallery exhibit honoring San Diego State University Professor Emeritus of Environmental Design Eugene Ray. “Radiant Architecture: The Visionary Work of Eugene Ray,” begins Aug. 3 and runs through Oct. 6, with a reception with Ray on Sept. 19.

Ray was a professor of environmental design at SDSU for 27 years, beginning in 1969.

Best known for his former La Jolla home and studio called The Silver Ship, Ray sees architecture as a conduit for creating community and considering possibilities that are sustainable and ecologically friendly. His unique methodology blends together theory, practice, and spirituality to arrive at architectural solutions and design. 

The exhibition, commemorating the 50th anniversary of Ray’s arrival at SDSU, is comprised of many rarely seen original hand-drafted architectural renderings and plans, ephemera, collages, and projection sequences, illustrating Ray’s approach to viewing the universe and urban space. This selection of work was provided by the SDSU Library’s Special Collections and University Archives, which will house Ray’s archive as part of its holdings, making his life’s work available for educational and scholarly research purposes.

The exhibition will also spotlight the work of international contemporaries who Ray invited to lecture in his classes, including Paolo Solari and Bruce Goff.

The Downtown Gallery display “is not only a retrospective exhibition of an important architect and design educator of our time, but also a reminder of the great prospects architecture, education, and human imagination hold for the brilliant future,” said Junichi Satoh, director of the SDSU graduate program in interior architecture.

David Fobes, an instructor in SDSU’s School of Art and Design, studied environmental design under Ray from 1975 to 1978 and is one of the curators of the exhibition.

“The direction and vision of Professor Ray’s courses and his own research were a welcome shock to my senses and creativity,” said Fobes. “He was able to show not only myself but my student cohort a new realm of the possibility of design as an instrument of human well-being on ‘spaceship Earth.’ 

“His influence on my design thinking and approach to teaching has been tremendous,” Fobes added. “It has been a great insight and pleasure to review all of the many documents and drawings that are the life’s work of creative genius.”

The SDSU Downtown Gallery is located at 725 W. Broadway. The free exhibition will be open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m. except for Tuesdays and Wednesdays.

The exhibition will be participating in the Downtown at Sundown series on Aug. 15 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m. Additionally, a special reception with Ray will be held at the gallery on Sept. 19 from 5:00 to 8:00 p.m.

More information about Ray and his work can be found on his blog. For more information about the event, contact Chantel Paul at

The exhibition and events are sponsored by RNT Architects, Yuman Young, the School of Art  and Design, the College of Professional Studies and Fine Arts, and Arts Alive SDSU. Additional support is provided by the San Diego State University Art Council Ambassadors.