San Diego’s design professionals honored the best and worst projects to spring up in the past year Thursday night during the 2009 Orchids & Onions Awards Ceremony.
The San Diego Architectural Foundation, which organizes the annual event, presented awards to designers of 24 projects that either enriched or cluttered the county’s scenery. A jury of peers selected projects in a variety of categories, including architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, historic preservation, sustainable design, urban design, planning policies and public art.
The top honor went to The Station, a new burger joint with a prominent South Park location. The project received the Grand Orchid for the way the building’s footprint does not engulf the property. The small building allows for exterior dining space on a patio that evokes a train platform -- a nod to the trolley that once ran through San Diego’s midtown neighborhoods. Salvaged elements of the original building and a tower with visible solar panels further the quirky blend of old and new in the structure’s design.
The Grand Onion was awarded to Vantage Pointe, one of San Diego’s largest high-rise condo buildings. The glass and concrete structure was criticized a bland and foolish project. Though the building was recently completed, the vast majority of its 700 units remain unsold and uninhabited.
The People’s Choice Orchid was awarded to the ResMed Corporate Campus. The LEED-certified building incorporates an abundance of natural light in public spaces that are modern and welcoming. The drought-tolerant landscaping reduces water consumption and sidewalks made of pervious concrete allow water to percolate, avoiding puddles. The landscape appears unintentional yet thoughtfully designed, unlike the overly manicured lawns surrounding many commercial buildings in the region.
The People’s Choice Onion went to Jamul Casino, Indian Wells Village. The 75,000-square-foot casino is planned for the small community of Jamul, situated on notoriously dangerous Highway 94. Residents say the more than 400 guest rooms that top off the multi-story building will block their views.
In the architecture category, Orchids were awarded to Robert Paine Scripps Forum, Woodbury School of Design’s Barrio Logan Campus, MXD830 and Point Loma Marina at America’s Cup Harbor. Onions for architecture were presented to the Escondido Police & Fire Building, Grossmont Medical Terrace parking structure and Mission Florence.
The sole Orchid for interior design was awarded to Starlite, a Mission Hills restaurant and bar.
Orchids in the historic preservation category were awarded to the Euclid Tower reconstruction project and the 1906 Lodge in Coronado. An Onion in the category went to the demolition project of Ryan Aeronautics.
For landscape architecture, Hamilton Children’s Garden at San Diego Botanic Garden earned an Orchid and the recent landscape improvements to The Plaza UTC by the Irvine Company received an Onion.
An Orchid for Planning Policies was awarded to Gateway San Diego, the proposed airport intermodal transportation center. An Onion went to the city’s Interim Height Ordinance, which limits development in neighborhoods like Hillcrest.
In the public art category, an Orchid honored the renovation of the North Park Produce building into its current use as the Art Produce gallery.
Orchids for sustainable design were awarded to the High Tech High campus in Chula Vista and the Bacon Street offices of Hanna Gabriel Wells.
In the special jury mention category, the New Roots Community Garden earned an Orchid and utility boxes installed by San Diego Gas & Electric and Cox Cable Communications received an Onion.
The purpose of the event is to engage design professionals in dialogue about San Diego’s built environment. Projects were selected by a jury of design professionals and artists, with the exception of the People’s Choice Award, which was determined by an Internet poll.
The event was held at downtown nightclub On Broadway. Barbarella served as emcee with commentary by Graham Downes.
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