The day finally came that I got to visit Ilan-Lael, the private residence of world-famous architectural designer, James Hubbell. Ever since I first learned that his home was in San Diego County, I have patiently waited for the day I could visit.
For 7 decades, James Hubbell has been a beloved artist, poet and architect designer, known for his whimsical designs, that both work with and are inspired by nature. His one-of-a-kind pieces range from sculptures all the way to living structures for those who want to live in harmony with nature as well.
Hubbell and his wife have lived in Santa Ysabel since the 50’s, creating a home that looks like something out of a dream. They raised their fours sons on the property as well, building a separate structure for them to live in. The couple believes that architecture should be a delicate blend between humans and nature, and their home really reflects that perfectly.
They call their home, Ilan-Lael, which is Hebrew for “a tree that belongs to God”. The property has hosted tours to thousands of people over the years! For longest time, tours were only be hosted to the public on Father’s Day, but that has since changed. Now small, docent-led tours are available upon appointments.
In 1982, the lan-Lael Foundation was founded by James and Anne Hubbell. The foundation has sponsored public art projects, lectures, seminars and exhibitions in San Diego and Tijuana.
The first of 11 structures on the property was built in 1958, using natural materials from the land. The style is inspired by the adobe structures in New Mexico, where Hubbell lived for awhile as a child.
Each building is filled with mosaics, stained glass windows and a delightful blend of natural, found materials such as seashells and stones. The designs seems to move and bend like the wind, or like flowing water.
To book a tour, visit, or become a volunteer visit the Ilan-Lael website at https://ilanlaelfoundation.org/