Born in 1932 in Louisiana, Eugene Ray beheld a phenomenon as a teenager which would forever impart an enduring impression on both his personal and professional life - a UFO. A similar sense of inspiration struck Ray as an undergraduate at Louisiana State University, where he was first formally exposed to the architectural ideas of Buckminster Fuller. Ray continued his education at Tulane University in New Orleans, where he earned his MFA.
Licensed as an architect by his home state of Louisiana in 1959, Ray soon built his first home followed by his largest home before moving to California. Upon arrival, Ray was soon introduced to environmental design, an architectural approach which would characterize much if not most of his subsequent work. After founding the environmental design program at San Diego State University in 1969, Ray insisted upon its incorporation into the Art Department.
Ray's architectural inspiration, designs, and philosophy culminated in what is perhaps his most widely recognized work, The Silver Ship. Reminiscent of his extraterrestrial sighting, The Silver Ship embodied Ray's core architectural principles, principles which set Ray apart in both the academic and professional world as an uncommon visionary.
Environmental Design Presentation
In the above video, Eugene Ray offers a brief description of the main concepts underlying environmental design. Using La Jolla Cove and SDSU’s Art Department as backdrops, Ray couples his oral explanations with booklets and images to help further illustrate his ideas and personal, structural philosophy.
The first half of the presentation strategically takes place in La Jolla Cove, which doubles as a scenic landscape as well as an ideal environment to demonstrate the concept of “Arcadia.” In addition to introducing new concepts not mentioned in other videos, such as water vortexes, Ray returns to his core architectural values, including affordability and holistic health. He continues to touch upon these values as the setting transitions indoors to the Art Department, where he also offers advice on the improvement of the increasingly popular, yet “storage container”-like dwellings.
During the final segment of the video, Ray talks about an international conference in Switzerland, which allowed him to exhibit some of his holistic designs among like-minded colleagues, in addition to exposing him to fresh presentations of classic concepts.
Sphere of Light Lecture
Professor Eugene Ray, alongside a guest lecturer, shares his building projects and designs within the context of architectural concepts. Heavily influenced by the ideas of Buckminster “Bucky” Fuller and his UFO sighting as a child, Professor Ray sought to incorporate these two inspirations into his work in addition to his own ideas.
Professor Ray outlines a career’s worth of structures through a slideshow, beginning with his first project as an architect and culminating with his most famous structure in La Jolla. Despite introducing many varied shapes into his lecture, one shape in particular becomes the overarching theme of his lecture, if not his career. Professor Ray demonstrates how this “biomorphic” shape can be adapted to serve both a functional and aesthetic purpose in relation to nature and humans. Similarly inspired by Fuller, the second guest speaker concludes the lecture with a presentation of his own projects, placing particular importance upon innovation and functionality.
Despite different architectural approaches, both Professor Ray and the guest speaker address two sides of the same coin within this lecture. Influenced by Fuller, both architects share similar architectural philosophies and goals, while manifesting these two elements in unique ways.
The Human Affair
Host Wilbur Blume conducts an interview on the program “The Human Affair” with guest Eugene Ray, who presents his projects within the context of architectural concepts and his own building philosophy. Eugene Ray is an architect and professor of environmental design at San Diego State University.
Ray discusses his ideas regarding environmental design, emphasizing certain elements that he believes to be downplayed in recent architecture. Using a mixture of slideshows as well as physical photographs, Ray demonstrates how some of these elements (e.g. cost effectiveness) have become a recurring theme in many of his works, from his first project as a professional architect to his most well-known, UFO-inspired Silver Ship in La Jolla, California. In addition to showcasing a wide variety of projects including residences and businesses, Ray also introduces relatively overlooked yet effective building technologies.
Staying true to his mantra of affordability, Ray concludes the interview by encouraging an alternative route to home ownership, kit-of-parts, which calls upon the owner to assemble certain fragments, like Lego pieces, in order to build a full house.
Professor Eugene Ray and his assistants manipulate slideshow images and videos to achieve a peculiar, visual effect. An assistant photographs this slideshow media, which consists primarily of scale models of buildings and structures. Meanwhile, Ray critiques the quality of these manipulations throughout the video.