The first Greek amphitheater built in the U.S. is on the campus of Point Loma Nazarene University.
The 32,900-square-foot Science Center at Point Loma Nazarene (left) has iconic curved stainless-steel screens, laser cut with Alpha and Omega symbols.
Having grown up in Point Loma during a time where there were dirt streets, no sidewalks and nearly all the residents owned horses, Susanne Friestedt’s passion for the rich history of San Diego starts at her roots. Downtown’s Edward J Schwartz Courthouse was named after Friestedt’s late father, the former chief federal judge for San Diego, and was at one point the judge’s own kindergarten school.
“One of our neighbors even had a lama,” said Friestedt of her childhood home. “It was very rural. The houses between Catalina and Point Loma Nazarene didn’t even exist yet.”
Friestedt is the founder of Open House San Diego, an annual city-wide tour of the region’s unique architectural works from office buildings to local homes and from city gardens to coastal sculptures. Friestedt, having run her own marketing communications firm for many years, was searching for what she calls her “legacy project,” when she came across an article on Open House Worldwide.
“It talked about cities in Europe that opened sites of all kinds that were free to the public on the weekend and it deeply resonated with me,” said Friestedt. “The idea of taking an international concept and applying it to our specific community was really appealing.”
San Diego’s first Open House was in 2015 where Friestedt, partnering with the San Diego Architectural Foundation, showcased around 39 sites and hosted roughly 1,300 visitors. This year, March 24-25, 84 sites are on the menu to tour in Balboa Park, Gaslamp, Downtown, Barrio Logan, Point Loma, East Village and Bankers Hill. Friestedt expects more than 10,000 guests, who will each receive a passport and program guide at the beginning of the tour. For each site they visit, attendees will receive a stamp in their travel book.
“We encourage students to come, because they are our future architects and urban designers,” said Friestedt. “We’re educating and engaging the public about the best of our architecture and urban design. Our city has a rich history and brilliant, talented people at the sites we’re opening. We want to support them and publicize the wonderful work they’re doing.”
Each site that is showcased has a unique public purpose and story behind it. One such building is Moniker Commons in Liberty Station. Once a manufacturing building, the space has been transformed into a highly functional shared workspace. The designers also incorporated repurposed wood from a 1920s downtown warehouse and used custom-poured colored concrete tile. Community manager Brian Tustin says that their building being featured in OH! SD is humbling.
“We've been around for one year and having San Diego Architecture Foundation include us in the mix of the 84 most beautiful buildings in SD, we're so honored,” said Tustin.
In addition, the historic North Chapel in Liberty Station and Point Loma’s oldest residence, The Living Room coffee shop, will also be featured on the tours, along with Point Loma Nazarene University, which is home to the first Greek amphitheater built in the U.S. and the 32,900-square-foot Science Center (Latter Hall and Sator Hall) with its iconic curved stainless-steel screens, laser cut with Alpha and Omega symbols.
OH! SD will also showcase sculptures such as Pearl of the Pacific on Shelter Island, which is a part of the Pacific Rim Park Project that has created a large necklace of sculptural pearl parks in Tijuana, Russia, China, South Korea, the Philippines and Tauwan.
“As human beings, one thing that makes us unique is the structures that we build for where we work, live and play,” said Friestedt. “We want to honor the best of those creations and help elevate the public’s sense of what good design is.”
OH! SD is still looking for more volunteers. Those interested can contact Carol Chin at firstname.lastname@example.org. For more information about the event, go to sdarchitecture.org.
Open House San Diego
When: 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. March 24-25.
Where: The participating sites are located in downtown San Diego, Bankers Hill, Barrio Logan and Point Loma. Most sites are open from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., but some have limited hours. Most sites offer open access or self-guided tours. Some offer regularly scheduled guided tours on a first-come, first-served basis. Others may require advance reservations. All are free.