Nine La Jolla projects have been nominated for an award from the 43rd annual Orchids and Onions program, an educational and fundraising measure by the San Diego Architectural Foundation. LUX UTC, Conrad Prebys Performing Arts Center, Raised by Wolves, Aveline La Jolla, The Venturi Pergola & Garden, White Sands La Jolla, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, and UCSD’s Ridge Walk Rain Garden and Tata Hall for the Sciences were all nominated for an Orchid Award.
A project is determined to be an “orchid” if it exemplifies good placemaking and adds to community character, among other criteria. It’s determined to be an “onion” if it’s a missed opportunity, an eyesore or simply “the opposite of an Orchid,” according to the program’s website.
“The goal of the program is to engage the San Diego community in the discussion of the importance of the built environment to their everyday life,” said Laura Warner, Orchids & Onions program co-chair. “The physical environment affects everything we do.
“It’s not meant to be a beauty contest. The idea behind it is to get people to talk about architecture and environments and think about what makes a space good to be in. Is it memorable? Is it functional? It is a place you want to return to? Is it easy to use?”
Onions, on the other hand, are places you probably wouldn’t visit again.
“The opposite of that would be, ‘Hey I can’t find the front door’ or ‘I don’t know what they sell here.’”
Voting opened online Aug. 1 and will remain open until Aug. 31. Community residents can go online and vote for their favorite of the 116 San Diego projects nominated for the People’s Choice Awards while a group of jurors will decide the final winners. They will be announced at the annual awards ceremony on Oct. 3.
Warner said that La Jolla should be proud of all their nominations.
“It has a very nice urban village downtown area which I think [residents] should be proud of,” she said. “It’s a nice environment to walk around and live in."
According to people within the community, White Sands, La Jolla is a good example of that. The retirement community at 7450 Olivetas Ave., was nominated for an Orchid specifically for its interior design, which was just upgraded during a $20 million renovation in 2017.
The remodel included interior upgrades to its West Campus such as the lobby, the former library and all the corridors. A bistro, a dog wash area and a bar in the oceanfront main lounge were also added.
“We had a theme of coastal elegance,” said Lorraine Durran, director of Buildings and Grounds at White Sands. “We took that throughout all of our corridors. So we upgraded all of the quarters with new finishes, everything form lighting, paint, doors and flooring, beautiful new art. Our beauty shop, our game room, all of those were updated and beautified."
While Durran said White Sands was honored to be nominated for an Orchid, the real prize lies in the appreciation of the community’s residents.
“They were very, very excited,” Durran said. “They lived through a year and a half of construction so they were real troopers through the whole process. We were so fortunate to go through that upgrade, and it seems to be serving everybody well because our event calendar has doubled.
“Everyone wants to have a party here.”
For more information and to vote for your favorite La Jolla project, visit orchidsandonions.org.