All the Right Places


UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center Central Utility Plant


Richard’s Grove Pavilion 


North Embarcadero Visionary Plan

7th & Market


When you drive around San Diego County, you may see construction as a sign of progress, an economic stimulant and/or a window of opportunity. When you can see in one spot the breadth of commercial and residential projects that are transforming our communities and potentially shaping the future, you also realize the wealth of talented professionals in our midst. Such was the situation at the Design Awards presented by the San Diego Chapter of the American Institute of Architects that capped last month’s Archtoberfest.

Jurors — a five-member panel from AIA’s Seattle Chapter — focused not only on design, craft and beauty, but also on LEED certification and social design responsibility.

Each award presentation allowed a bit of a virtual tour with a description of the projects’ attributes that impressed the judges. Among them, I was enthralled by the UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center Central Utility Plant. Who (besides an architect or engineer) would think that a utility plant could be a stunner? The CUP, which won CannonDesign an award, began recycling steam condensate last March. The tiered, curvilinear structure rises from the ground like a hill with a plateau top, blending with its natural surroundings in a way that should inform the way future utility plants are developed. “The integration of landscape, structure and an unsexy program in an open, expressive and well-resolved form is what makes this project special,” the judges said.

I was especially taken by Asquared Studios’ Richard’s Grove Pavilion, which also won an award. Unfortunately, it’s the city of Windsor in Sonoma County that enjoys this project, suited for an Architectural Digest spread (Asquared also has offices in Santa Rosa). The pavilion is elevated to appear as if it floats above the ground, and its see-through design gives the Santa Fe caboose next to it definitive importance.

Joseph Wong Design Associates garnered two awards for its North Embarcadero Visionary Plan. The jury bestowed an Urban Design award on this project, calling it a transformative example of taking the waterfront back from the automobile and giving it back to the pedestrian. In the Divine Details awards category, they specifically noted the cut-out text roof of a pavilion.

While I appreciated the jury’s recognition of numerous outstanding projects, I was shocked that they withheld awards in the Unbuilt category, stating that the submissions “were not presented from a strong conceptual framework.” Pshaw. AVRP Studios’ 7th & Market rendering blew me away with its slanted walls and jutting structures below an impressive, 450-foot tower. It struck me as Dubai-ish, but scaled to San Diego. Perhaps the Seattle-ites would have been swayed if AVRP had scribbled the Starbucks name and mermaid logo onto the street-level market front.

In any event, there were many projects deserving of the recognition bestowed. Below are the awards as selected by the jury.


Architecture Awards

The North Parker, Jonathan Segal Architect

Palomar College Humanities Building, LPA Inc.

Sorrento, Steven Lombardi Architects

801 Alma Family Housing, Rob Willington Quigley, FAIA

North Park Post Office Lofts, FoundationForForm

Richard’s Grove Pavilion, Asquared Studios Inc.

UCSD Audrey Geisel University House Architectural Rehabilitation, IS Architecture

UC San Diego Jacobs Medical Center Central Utility Plant, CannonDesign

UCSD Biomedical Research Facility Unit 2, ZGF Architects LLP


Interior Architecture Awards

Guss Lodl Apartment, Luce et Studio

BKM Headquarters and Showroom, Hollander Design Group


Urban Design Awards

North Embarcadero Visionary Plan, Joseph Wong Design Associates

Urban Discovery Academy, AVRP Studios


Committee on the Environment Awards

UCSD Biomedical Research Facility Unit 2, ZGF Architects LLP

Pitzer College Residential Life Phase 2, Carrier Johnson + CULTURE


Divine Detail Awards

San Diego Central Library Major Donor Recognition Program, Luce et Studio

North Embarcadero Visionary Plan, Joseph Wong Design Associates

Weightless Lounge at San Diego Art Fair, Steven Lombardi Architects


Energy Efficiency and Integration Awards

Sage Creek High School, Roesling Nakamura Terada Architects Inc.

Celadon at Ninth and Broadway, Studio E Architects and SVA Architects

Cal Poly Pomona Student Recreation Center, LPA Inc.


Advanced Home Efficiency Award

Mancaluso Residence, DZN Partners