Born in Rock Island, Illinois, Requa moved to San Diego with his parents in 1900, where he attended Norfolk College and studied electrical engineering. He received his architectural training by working as an on-site project supervisor for the famed San Diego architecture firm of Irving J. Gill. Requa went on to establish his own firm, dominating the San Diego scene during the booming 1920s. In 1934 Requa was appointed Master Architect for the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition, held in Balboa Park. He began studying the historical heritage of the Spanish Colonial style, the Pueblos of the Southwest, and the Moorish features from Spain and North Africa. Throughout his career, Requa made extended trips to the Mediterranean to study architectural details and garden design. His studies resulted in the development of a regionally distinct style of architecture based heavily on Mediterranean design influence. Requa died of a heart attack at the age of 60 while at work in his office.