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Here is San Diego’s best and worst architecture in 2020

2020 Orchids & Onions Grand Orchid
2020 Orchids & Onions: Grand Orchid, Teen Orchid winner was the Center for Novel Therapeutics.
(Hall + Merrick Photographers)

The annual Orchids and Onions competition is back for its 44th year to (virtually) award prizes to the best and worst projects.

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Even a pandemic couldn’t stop San Diego’s annual architecture competition that has the dubious distinction of pointing out the duds.

The Orchids and Onions competition gave awards Thursday night for the best in architecture with a cherished Orchid — while the ugliest projects got a dreaded Onion.

The 44-year-old competition, run by the San Diego Architectural Foundation, has the goal of making the region a better place to live. A committee of 12 jurors evaluated 101 nominations.

There were two new features this year: A teen vote category was gathered from students at East Lake High School, La Jolla High School and Coronado High School. Also, the people’s choice awards were gathered during a live vote at the Thursday ceremony, unlike past years where votes were gathered online.

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Center for Novel Therapeutics (Malone Grand Orchid, Teen Orchid)

9310 Athena Circle, La Jolla. Owner/developer: BioMed Realty. Architect/designer: Perkins & Will

Judges’ comments: “This is structurally fascinating. Elegant and engaging. The use of materials is incredible. Innovative design, also encouraging innovation within. High-performance all around — generous, well-lit common areas, patient-centered design. Very well detailed.”

3

Apartments at 1836 Columbia St. (Grand Onion and Teen Onion)

1836 Columbia St.
This apartment building at 1836 Columbia St. won the award for worst architecture (Onion) at this year’s Orchids and Onions event.
(CoStar)

1836 Columbia St., San Diego. Owner/developer: Steve Parikh. Architect/designer: DESS Partners

Judges’ comments: “It has absolutely no redeeming value whatsoever. The way it touches the ground is so bad it can’t even be fixed. Looks like a bubble diagram that skipped the architecture/design part and went directly to construction.”

4

The Guild Hotel (Orchid for historic preservation)

2020 Orchids & Onions: Historic Preservation – Orchid winner The Guild Hotel
(Sormeh Rienne)

500 West Broadway, San Diego. Owner/developer: Oram Hotels. Architect/designer: PGAL+ Sormeh Rienne

Judges’ comments: “This is the building that had the human touch to it. It didn’t scream at me. It has a small scale and is very well composed.”

5

BLVD North Park (Onion for architecture)

2020 Orchids & Onions: Architecture – Onion winner BLVD North Park Apartments
(Orchids & Onions)

2020 El Cajon Blvd., San Diego. Owner/developer: HG Fenton. Architect/designer: Architects Orange + Foundation For Form

Judges’ comments: “It really should have had quite a bit of editing. Please spend a little more time thinking through the impact it has on the community. It could have been more welcoming along the sidewalk — the dentist office and storefront facades are very lackluster.”

6

Laundry building at the Hotel Del Coronado (Orchid for historic preservation)

2020 Orchids & Onions: Historic Preservation – Orchid winner Laundry Building at the Hotel Del Coronado
2020 Orchids & Onions: Historic Preservation – Orchid winner Laundry Building at the Hotel Del Coronado
(Horacio Virissimo)

1500 Orange Ave., Coronado. Owner/developer: BRE Hotels and Resorts. Architect/designer: obrARCHITECTURE

Judges’ comments: “I love how they saved the clothes rack. What I appreciate about the interiors is that they’ve done a lot to make sure they’ve treated it so you really understand what the bones of that space are. I agree that there’s a lot going on there, but it also feels temporary to me and flexible.”

7

Hampton Inn & Suites San Diego Airport Liberty Station, and Marriott TownePlace Suites (Onion for architecture)

 Hampton Inn and Suites San Diego Airport Liberty Station
2020 Orchids & Onions: Architecture – Onion winner Hampton Inn and Suites San Diego Airport Liberty Station and Townplace Suites by Marriott
(Orchids & Onions)

2211 Lee Court, San Diego. Owner/developer: InnerMountain Management and the Corkey McMillin Companies. Architect/designer: Degan & Degan Architecture and Interior Design

Judges’ comments: “If not offensive, it’s at least passive aggressive. Missed opportunity along the waterfront. The sea of cars and choice of materials and color feel more appropriate for a self-storage development than a fine hotel in sunny San Diego.”

8

Mesa College Fine Arts Building (Orchid for architecture)

Mesa College Fine Arts Building
2020 Orchids & Onions, Architecture – Orchid winner: Mesa College Fine Arts Building
(Darren Bradley)

7250 Mesa College Drive., San Diego. Owner/developer: San Diego Community College District. Architect/designer: Hanna Gabriel Wells

Judges comments: “This is the direction a lot of architecture needs to go in terms of saving our resources. All the time, money and C02 that was expended in this concrete structure is now saved and reused for another 20 or 30 years.”

9

Lofts on Laurel (Onion for architecture, People’s choice Onion)

2020 Orchids & Onions: Architecture – Onion winner Lofts on Laurel
2020 Orchids & Onions: Architecture – Onion winner Lofts on Laurel
(Ian Patzke)

2466 1st Ave., San Diego. Owner/designer: JANCO Development. Architect/designer: H2 Architects

Judges’ comments: “There’s a huge missed opportunity for a project like this to contribute to the neighborhood and the community it’s sitting in. I think the lack of façade elements, missing rooftop screens and scant landscaping make this one look like an example of very bad value engineering.”

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BioLegend Campus (Orchid for architecture)

2020 Orchids & Onions: Architecture – Orchid winner BioLegend Campus
2020 Orchids & Onions: Architecture – Orchid winner BioLegend Campus
(Stephen Whalen Photography 2017)

8999 Biolegend Way, San Diego. Owner/developer: BioLegend, Inc. Architect/designer: Delawie

Judges’ comments: “Great transformation from a tilt-up industrial campus.”

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Chula Vista Public Library South Branch (Onion for historic preservation)

2020 Orchids & Onions: Historic Preservation – Onion winner Chula Vista Public Library South Branch.
2020 Orchids & Onions: Historic Preservation – Onion winner Chula Vista Public Library South Branch.
(Orchids and Onions)

389 Orange Ave., Chula Vista. Owner/developer: City of Chula Vista.

Judges’ comments: “It’s the COVID mask in front of this building. They took the easiest way out in terms of executing this. It could have been done much better. This is a jewel of architecture in Chula Vista from a renowned Mexican architect. It’s a slap in the face.”

12

Broadstone Makers Quarter (Orchid for interiors)

2020 Orchids & Onions: Interiors – Orchid winner Broadstone Makers Quarter Common Areas
(Adrian Tiemens)

1601 Broadway, San Diego. Owner/developer: Broadstone. Architect/designer: Paul Basile, BASILE Studio

Judges’ comments: “It has a dark perspective, parts of it, but I really do like the level of detail in it.”

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Campland on the Bay Lease Extension (Onion for urban planning)

2020 Orchids & Onions: Urban planning – Onion winner Campland by the Bay Lease Extension
(Orchids & Onions)

2211 Pacific Beach Drive, San Diego. Owner/developer: City of San Diego

Judges’ comments: “(An Onion) will be a nice present for the birds. This has to be stopped and this preserve has to be saved. Any solution here deserves way more thought and its ecology should be taken into consideration.”

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Chula Vista Fire Station No. 10 (Orchid for architecture)

2020 Orchids & Onions: Architecture – Orchid winner Chula Vista Fire Station No. 10 at Millenia
(PABLO MASON)

1715 Millenia Ave., Chula Vista. Owner/developer: City of Chula Vista / SLF IV - Millenia, LLC. Architect/designer: Jeff Katz Architecture

Judges’ comments: “Elegant and functional. I love that they are not scared of color! Perfect for the community. It does what a good civic project should do.”

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East County Assessor, Recorder, County Clerk and Archive (Orchid for architecture)

2020 Orchids & Onions: Architecture – Orchid winner East County Assessor, Recorder, County Clerk (ARCC) and Archive
2020 Orchids & Onions: Architecture – Orchid winner East County Assessor, Recorder, County Clerk (ARCC) and Archive
(Orchids & Onions)

10144 Mission Gorge Road, Santee. Owner/developer: County of San Diego. Architect/designer: The Miller Hull Partnership

Judges’ comments: “An incredible, sustainable and thoughtful project that will stand beautifully the passage of time. It is impressive how much they could do with limited financial resources. We need more outstanding civic buildings like this!”

16

Louisiana apartments (Orchid for architecture, and interiors)

2020 Orchids & Onions: Architecture – Orchid winner Louisiana
(Onnis Luque)

2305 University Ave., San Diego. Architect/designer: Jeff Svitak

Judges’ comments: “All around exceptional housing solution. We need to raise the bar by celebrating projects like this. Smart, well crafted, outdoor-oriented, and design-inspiring space. It makes you want to be there.”

17

Fit Plunge (Orchid for interiors)

2020 Orchids & Onions: Interiors – Orchid winner Fit Plunge
(Paul Vu)

3115 Ocean Front Walk, San Diego. Owner/developer: Pacifica Real Estate Services. Architect/designer: Jules Wilson Design Studio

Judges’ comments: “They did something kind of magical because a space like this typically feels sterile, and this doesn’t. It’s just great.”

18

Civita Park phase 2 (Orchid for landscape architecture)

2020 Orchids & Onions: Landscape Architecture – Orchid winner Civita Park Phase 2
(Schmidt Design Group)

7960 Civita Blvd., San Diego. Owner/developer: Sudberry Properties. Architect/designer: Schmidt Design Group

Judges’ comments: “I like the thoughtful integration of history, natural elements in the playground and educational signs. I really appreciate that there is a place for everyone in this park and that it celebrates the out of doors in Mission Valley.”

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Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center (Orchid for landscape architecture)

2020 Orchids & Onions: Landscape Architecture – Orchid winner Kaiser Permanente San Diego Medical Center
(Orchids & Onions)

9455 Clairemont Mesa Blvd., San Diego. Owner/developer: Kaiser Permanente. Architect/designer: Spurlock Landscape Architects

Judges’ comments: “Kaiser should be commended for providing this much site area to the public for a wonderful wellness garden.”

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The Children’s Workshop (People’s Choice Orchid)

The Children's Workshop won the people's choice orchid.
(Darren Bradley)

9524 Kearny Villa Road, San Diego. Owner/developer: The Institute for Effective Education. Architect/designer: Kevin deFreitas Architects / LandLAB – Landscape Architect / Bowyer – Environmental Graphics and Colors

No judges’ comments because it was voted on live during the ceremony by virtual attendees.

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UCSD Tata Hall for the Sciences (Orchid for landscape architecture)

2020 Orchids & Onions: Landscape Architecture – Orchid winner UCSD Tata Hall for the Sciences
2020 Orchids & Onions: Landscape Architecture – Orchid winner UCSD Tata Hall for the Sciences
(Bill Timmerman)

UCSD Revelle College Neighborhood, San Diego. Owner/developer: UCSD. Architect/designer: Spurlock Landscape Architects

Judges’ comments: “I think this is a very sophisticated project.”

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UCSD Mesa Housing Pedestrian Bridge (Orchid for urban planning)

2020 Orchids & Onions: Urban Planning – Orchid winner UCSD Mesa Housing Pedestrian Bridge
(Orchids & Onions)

Miramar Street, La Jolla. Owner/developer: UCSD. Architect/designer: Studio E Architects

Judges’ comments: “Walkability is important to honor. An elegant project.”


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