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My OC: Architect Jeffrey Gill keeps moving, but there's always time for scotch and a cigar

Photography by Cindy Yamanaka

Never one to watch much TV, architect Jeffrey Gill likes to be on the move – hiking, traveling, visiting friends – unless he is hunkered down with one of the long, complex historical novels he began reading as a teenager. Ken Follett’s “The Pillars of the Earth,” set in 12th-century England, is one of his favorites, and Gill has spent considerable time exploring Great Britain and Ireland.
The travel bug influenced his career in the early 1990s, when Gill, executive director of the Orange County chapter of The American Institute of Architects, worked to export American design sensibilities to China by opening his Studio 1 Architects in Shanghai. After five or six years, he was wooed back to the United States by a larger architectural firm, then re-launched Studio 1 in Newport Beach to concentrate on projects along the Orange County coast.
A fellow and former national board member at The American Institute of Architects, Gill took charge of the Orange County chapter in 2012. The 57-year-old graduate of the University of Oregon also loves animals. He has two miniature pinschers, Caesar and Rex, and a 17-pound cat named George Harrison, and he dog-sits for friends who are traveling.
My neighborhood: Newport Coast
Why I live there: I like the fact that I can walk to shopping centers and restaurants.  Crystal Cove State Park is a wonderful place to hike. And it’s convenient to beaches to the north and south. It’s got a great climate. You get the views and the coastal air.

Only restaurant I can’t live without: Gulfstream, at MacArthur and PCH. I enjoy hanging out by the fire pits to have a scotch and a cigar. It happens to have a couple of big fire pits on the patio with Adirondack chairs. It’s a great place to network and talk to people or meet up with a friend and hang out.

My perfect day: Taking an early morning walk with my dogs along the parkways of Newport Coast. I’d come back home, take care of a few things around the house, and go to the Oasis [Senior Citizens] Center to use the health club, get in a little workout. I’d meet up with friends for lunch, then maybe do a little gardening. Late in the day, I’d go down to Gulfstream and have a cigar. From there, you just sort of let the night happen. Maybe have a scotch, have a glass of wine. Maybe finish the day with good friends.

Favorite get-away destination: Every year, I spend at least a week at the Westin Villas on Maui. You’re looking right out at the sunset between Lanai and Molokai and it’s just wonderful. It’s an awesome experience.

My sanctuary: Probably Little Corona beach. Looking out at the ocean is peaceful and powerful and calming. It’s just the waves crashing. It’s a great experience.  

Favorite late-night haunt: SideDoor at Five Crowns. It’s like an English pub. It’s relaxing. It’s a very mixed crowd, all ages. It’s just a fun place to hang out, have a drink, maybe have a bite to eat.

Favorite place to shop that isn’t a chain: Recycled Rags in Corona del Mar. It’s just a little store that’s been there forever. The first time I ever went in, I bought an Armani greatcoat that I’ve worn all over the world. That sold me right there – this is a great place to come.

Angels or Dodgers?  Angels, of course.

Red or white?  White.

Best celebrity encounter: 
Bette Midler. I was at Hapi Sushi of Laguna with a friend. We might have been drinking more than we should, and we started dancing. This gal comes up and kisses me on the forehead. The funny thing was, I didn’t realize who she was until after we’d stumbled out the door and gone down the street.

My pet peeve:  Open cupboards. Maybe it’s the design person in me, looking at something that’s a solid plane and seeing it interrupted. I’ve had friends who will purposely open a cupboard in the kitchen just to see if I’ll walk by and shut it. It’s just one of those things that I do.

Favorite piece of architecture in Orange County: The [J.] Herbert Brownell office on Pacific Coast Highway in Newport Beach. It’s sort of midcentury, from the 1960s. It’s so well conceived it blends into the bluffs there. I like the subtle statement it makes – how it’s integrated into the scenery.

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