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

Your 2018 San Diego Summer Bucket List

Here’s our insider’s guide for Memorial Day through Labor Day

The Best of North County 2018

Our annual list of what we’re loving above the 56, from bites and brews to shopping, wellness, and arts and kids’ activities galore

16 Great Places to Go Camping in Southern California and Baja

We’ve rounded up sites with the best ocean views, mountain peaks, and desert landscapes
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Most Popular

  1. Vote Now for San Diego's Best Restaurants 2018
    From burritos to bottomless mimosas, you choose San Diego’s best eats and drinks in 90 categories
  2. Personal Stories are on Display at the Museum of Man's 'PostSecret'
    Frank Warren collects deep, dark secrets for this community arts project
  3. The Best of North County 2018
    Our annual list of what we’re loving above the 56, from bites and brews to shopping, wellness, and arts and kids’ activities galore
  4. 31 Best Places to Live in San Diego
    Five local homeowners share their advice, tips, and tricks on how they sealed the deal
  5. Has Anything Really Changed Since Ballast Point Sold to Constellation?
    More than two years after the acquisition, misinformation and misunderstanding still abound
  6. Green Rush: Inside San Diego's Emerging Cannabis Industry
    Marijuana's legal. How did it go from evil death drug to medical miracle and billion-dollar industry?
Edit ModuleShow Tags

Promotions

Win Our Instagram Contest And Get Three Months of Free Orangetheory Fitness Classes

All you have to do is post to Instagram telling us why you want it, or enter below!

Puesto's Next Top Taco

Submit your best taco recipe for the chance to win a grand prize
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module
Edit Module

Connect With Us:

Edit ModuleShow Tags

Sponsored

AquaVie: 10 Reasons It’s Downtown’s Best Kept Secret

The best workout and spa getaway around? It’s actually right underneath your nose.

Puesto's Next Top Taco

Submit your best taco recipe for the chance to win a grand prize
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit Module Edit Module
Edit ModuleShow Tags
Edit ModuleShow Tags