Edit ModuleShow Tags

A Bouquet of Orchids and a Whiff of Onions


Published:

(page 1 of 3)

When it comes to San Diego’s Orchids & Onions awards, ugly is in the eye of the beholder. Okay, these annual celebrations of local design are about beauty, too. But let’s face it: The Onions are lots more fun than the Orchids.

Take University City’s Mormon Temple—the towering, ersatz-Gothic edifice that looms over Interstate 5. Back in 1992, the year it was completed, O&O judges awarded it a big, fat, pungent bulb. At the time, I quoted one of the critics as suggesting the Mormons ought to subscribe to the theory of “separation of church and interstate.”

A couple of years earlier, I’d described a terminally garish, pink-stucco condo project near the Mormon Temple on Nobel Drive in University City (poor UC) as looking “like an explosion at the Pepto-Bismol factory.” The design judges confirmed that assessment with an Onion for the project later that year.

One nominee in the early ’90s met with a groundswell of public support. A critic nominated Tom Werner and his colleagues, then-owners of the San Diego Padres, for an Onion in the “Historic Preservation” category. “Werner’s design for redefining—or, more correctly, demolishing —this San Diego institution,” the ballot read, “is worthy of the same public censure reserved for those who destroy significant historic buildings.” (The Padres survived; Werner & Co. did not.)

In the early years, judging of San Diego’s Orchids & Onions awards—established in 1976—was done by a fairly equal mix of laymen and design professionals (most of them members of the American Association of Architects or the American Planning Association). Over the years, professionals began to dominate the judging. But for the past few years, while professionals have continued to sponsor the awards, judging has been exclusively by laymen.

This year’s panel includes a lawyer, a banker, a member of the media and an electrician from a county Indian reservation, among others. And overall responsibility for the awards falls to steering committee chair Alexandra Elias of the Centre City Development Corporation.

In this month’s issue of San Diego Magazine, we’re publishing photos of some of the just-awarded 1999 Orchids & Onions. In addition, we’re celebrating some past winners that still surround us, to cheer us or confound us.
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

More »Related Stories

Fall Fashion 2016: Into the Wild

Fall in love with the season's Victorian details, dark florals, deep reds, fur, and more

27 Secret San Diego Spots

From hidden caves to dead bodies beneath a public park, here's our third annual guide to all things hidden and hush-hush

Arts Preview 2016-2017

The city's best performances, shows, exhibits, and more. Let the fat lady sing!
Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. San Diego's Best Restaurants 2016
    From barbecue to vegan options, there’s a bit of manna for everyone in this year’s list of the city’s best
  2. What's It Like to Be the CEO of the Smartest Company in the World?
    We went to Illumina’s headquarters to find out
  3. The 12 Most Important People in Design Right Now
    See what they’re up to and working on in San Diego
  4. 54 Summer Travel Ideas
    Get out of town!
  5. Best of San Diego 2016
    Our annual and completely subjective guide to SD’s best
  6. The Chilling Facts About Craft Beer
    Why colder is not always better
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.

Not Your Grandma's Orthotics

New year, new – shoe? Staying on your feet for long hours at a time just got a whole lot more comfortable with Wiivv’s BASE custom insoles
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

Go Ahead... Ask McMillin!

At McMillin Realty, we are encouraging you to bring us your real estate questions. We will answer these questions….. for free.

“Will You Marry Me”?

Sharon Jenks, CEO of 6 Degrees, on building business relationships
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags