Group bestows orchids and onions to SD building projects
by Loralee Olejnik
Published - 01/10/08 - 09:48 AM | 3190 views | 0 0 comments | 8 8 recommendations | email to a friend | print
The San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF) honored the good and bad in local building projects at the 2007 Orchids & Onions Awards on Nov. 30.

The theme of this year's awards, Power to the People, gave the community an opportunity to voice what worked and what didn't in local building projects going up around San Diego, bestowing orchids on the adored and onions on the abhorred.  

"The goal of the foundation and Orchids & Onions is to elevate the general public's awareness of what's being built around them and give them a voice," said David McCullough, board member of the SDAF.  "Through Orchids & Onions, people can speak their opinions."

During June and July, via the Web, the general public submitted about 200 nominations for Orchids & Onions awards. A panel of industry professionals narrowed the list down to about 38 finalists, McCullough said. 

The 38 finalists were put back up on the Web site for a public vote. Both the panel's selections and the people's choice awards were announced at a reception and ceremony at the North Park Theatre in November.

 Among the Orchids & Onions recipients this year:


Orchids: Aztec Green and SDSU Transit Center at San Diego State University, Francis Parker School expansion, Stone Brewing World Bistro and Gardens, NTC Promenade, Paseo de Mission Hills, Anthology in Little Italy and the San Diego Children's Museum.

Onions: The I-5/805 merge, Thurgood Marshall Middle School, the controversial Sunroad Centrum office building and "Magic Carpet Ride," the frequently razzed bronze statue on South Coast Highway in Cardiff-by-the-Sea. 

When asked about the reactions from the recipients of the Onion awards, McCullough said they varied from good-sported to "extremely unhappy," but, according to McCullough, the event gave Onion recipients the opportunity to tell their side of the story, as the creators may have had reasons that the general public is not aware of for why they made particular design decisions.

The SDAF is a nonprofit membership organization of architecture and design enthusiasts with the mission of promoting awareness of the built environment.  McCullough said the Orchids & Onions Awards have been given out since the 1970s by the American Institute of Architects (AIA); however, this is the second year the SDAF has run the show since buying it from the AIA in 2003 for $1.

For more information on the Orchids & Onions Awards, visit For more information on the SDAF, visit 
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