On Thursday evening, the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF) ranted and raved about the city's built environment at its annual Orchids and Onions awards ceremony, held at the San Diego Museum of Art. The Orchids went to projects in San Diego County that benefit their communities socially, culturally, economically, or aesthetically. An onion, on the other hand, recognizes "something [that] is too ugly or too out of scale, or the style doesn’t fit in with its context," SDAF vice president Craig Howard wrote in an email to ARCHITECT. This year's crop included 12 Orchids and five Onions chosen from a total of 79 finalists.
This year’s Grand Orchid, or top honor, went to the California Tower at the San Diego Museum of Man, which re-opened to the public this year after spending 80 years out of commission and following a $750,000 renovation by San Francisco–based Architectural Resources Group's Kitty Vieth, AIA. The jury wrote that the historic preservation project "provides a fresh perspective on the city of San Diego and provides an opportunity for more history to be made in this already historic structure." The People’s Choice Orchid went to the Building AZ at Qualcomm Pacific Center Campus, designed by BNIM Architects. Meanwhile, the People’s Choice Onion recognized Theta Chi Fraternity's house at San Diego State University, which the jury called "bulky" and "in awkward juxtaposition to the surrounding community."
Established as an educational and fundraising program for the nonprofit SDAF to encourage practical discourse about the built environment, the awards recognize San Diego projects completed within the last three years. The public nominates projects that are then evaluated by a jury of professionals in the design and construction industries. Categories include architecture, landscaping, interior design, historic preservation, and miscellaneous, the latter of which includes public art and architectural lighting.
This year’s jury included Carrier Johnson + Culture principal Gordon Carrier, FAIA; Schmidt Design Group principal Glenn Schmidt; RJC Architects principal Janene Christopher, AIA; James Denton Design principal James Denton; sculptor John Oliver Lewis; Hitzke Development Corporation president Ginger Hitzke; La Jolla Historical Society executive director Heath Fox; and San Diego city planner and SDAF member Nick Ferracone.
Check out some of this year's Orchids and Onions below.
Note: This post has been updated to correct that the People's Choice Onion went to Theta Chi Fraternity, not the demolition of downtown buildings, as previously stated.