San Diego

Orchids and Onions Program Evaluates Best and Worst of San Diego Architecture

The San Diego Architectural Foundation's yearly program encourages residents to critique built elements throughout the county.

The annual Orchids & Onions program, created by the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF), is in the process of evaluating the county’s buildings and urban design.

For 42 years the education and fundraising event has looked at outstanding—and less than perfect—buildings and other built elements in San Diego.

The interactive program encourages San Diego residents to come together and provide feedback on the SDAF website about different architecture throughout the county.

Critics can submit buildings, historic preservations, interior design, landscapes and public art as either an orchid or an onion.

Orchid nominations are often considered eye-catching and successful, while onions may have missed the mark.

In 2017, Celadon on 9th and Broadway took home the Grand Orchid award. Hotel Churchill was awarded the Orchid for Historic Preservation.

Starbucks was given the Onion for Urban Planning and the San Diego International Airport Car Rental Facility won the People’s Choice Onion.

This year, more than 100 orchids and 14 onions have been nominated.

A few of the orchid submissions include the Nolita Hall Restaurant in Little Italy, Oceanside High School’s Performing Arts Center and the Ocean Beach Garden Café.

On the other side of the spectrum, the Fort in Mission Hills, San Diego’s City Hall building and the Drew Ford Round House Auto Dealership are all up for onions.

To be considered in the Orchids & Onions program this year, all nominations had to be received on July 6.

Each submission included photos and critiques about San Diego County projects completed within the last three years. No single-family residences were accepted.

Now that all nominations have been placed, a jury of design professionals, one student and one member of the public is touring the proposed places to determine the winners.

Residents can also take part in the process by voting for the People’s Choice Orchid and Onions awards by September.

All awards will be given out on October 4 at the U.S. Grant Hotel, a former orchid winner. Tickets for the awards ceremony are $20.

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