Jonathan Cartu Says: Donald Innis Obituary - San Diego, CA - Jonathan Cartu Global Design, Architecture & Engineering Firm
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Jonathan Cartu Says: Donald Innis Obituary – San Diego, CA

Donald Innis Obituary - San Diego, CA

Jonathan Cartu Says: Donald Innis Obituary – San Diego, CA

Donald Alwyn Innis San Diego Donald Alwyn Innis Sr., 88, has passed away of natural causes. Innis designed several notable San Diego landmarks, including the 1970s total overhaul and remodeling of the historic Broadway Pier, one of the first pier designs to make use of significant above-water landscaping and greenery, and the master plan for the downtown frontage of the San Diego Embarcadero and Harbor Drive’s crescent wharf.Innis held a degree from the University of California at Berkeley, where he graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa in 1961. He pioneered the notion of a floating airport using his 1994 patented technology for a Pneumatic Stabilized Platform (PSP), a stabilized floating platform assembly that could be used to create ocean real estate. Innis developed the concept through the company that he was the principal of and co-founded, Float Incorporated of San Diego.Innis was a long-standing member of the Society of American Registered Architects and the American Institute of Architects, once serving as its president. He was a sustaining member of the Society of Military Engineers, and past director of the Downtown San Diego Partnership and Center City Association.Born in Olean, New York, Innis was the son of Greta Mattson (of Brockton, Massachusetts) and Alwyn O. Innis (of Columbus, Ohio). Innis’ father Alwyn was a former American exchange pilot, Royal Canadian Air Force (RCAF) Squadron Leader during WWII and First Lieutenant in the British Royal Flying Corps (RFC), and British Royal Air Force (RAF) during the end of WWI. In 1956, after serving 7-1/2 years in the U.S. Navy Reserve himself, Innis was drafted into the Army. Innis was a veteran of the Army Signal Corps serving from 1956 to 1958 in its Alaska Communications System (ACS).Innis worked for the Chicago architect Maurice Webster, who with Alfred P. Allen designed Chicago’s Sky Harbor Airport. Don Innis later joined his family in California and worked his way up the ladder at Falkon Booth, becoming a draftsman and designer. He joined the San Diego-based architecture firm of Paderewski Mitchell and Dean, AIA, as chief designer. While working for Paderewski, Innis was in charge of designing Terminal One at San Diego’s International Airport.In 1965, Donald Innis & Associates was started. Projects included a conceptual design for a residential town for Time-Life Corporation and a “community for positive thinking” for Norman Vincent Peale, a controversial American minister and author of New York Times Bestseller “The Power of Positive Thinking.”Innis then teamed up with the late architect, Dave Tennebaum, and in 1967 formed Innis-Tennebaum Architects Inc., AIA. Noteworthy designs were Del Mar’s Flower Hill Mall (which included an underground restaurant), East Village Mall (Rancho Santa Fe), and the original Harbor Seafood Mart (aka the Fish Factory Restaurant). Master plan projects with airfield facilities included the Marine Corps Base at Camp Pendleton; North Island Naval Air Station in San Diego; and the Naval Weapons Center at China Lake.With the 1970s remodel of the Broadway Pier, the Innis design allowed an unobstructed view of the bay from street level, making the pier’s buildings seem to float in air. Innis’ original Broadway Pier redesign has since been razed and replaced. It can still be seen in the background of the 1979 Paul Schrader film, “Hardcore,” starring George C. Scott as a father searching for his daughter – when Scott stands in front of the pier’s signature planter boxes.As lead architect responsible for the last redesign of the San Diego Embarcadero in the 1980s, Innis also felt it was important to maintain the view of the water and the sailboats as one drove, walked, or rode a bicycle along the San Diego harbor (one of his favorite pastimes).Don Innis also enjoyed writing, playing guitar and was an avid sailor. While studying at U.C. Berkeley, Innis taught sailing. He often sailed with Hans Albert Einstein (son of physicist Albert Einstein), who taught hydraulic engineering at the university. Innis was a long-standing member of the San Diego Yacht Club and a supporter of its youth sailing program. As a writer, Innis penned several technical articles for trade and scientific journals as well as sailing adventures.Surviving are daughters Chris Innis (Murawski); Cynthia Innis (Weiss); granddaughter Ona Weiss; son Don Jr.; and brother W. Joe. Don was preceded in death by his wife of 45 years, Virginia; and his brother, Jack.Don has sailed into the sunset and his ashes will be scattered at sea in a private family memorial. Don’s request was that his friends and family enjoy a nice sail or get outside and tip a glass in his memory. In lieu of flowers, donations are suggested to Scripps Research Institute, The San Diego Zoo, The Maritime Museum, and your local youth sailing programs.

Published in San Diego Union-Tribune on Jun. 7, 2020.

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