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Arts & Culture

Conrad Prebys Concert Hall Wins Orchid

The Conrad Prebys Concert Hall on the campus of UCSD won the Grand Orchid.
The Conrad Prebys Concert Hall on the campus of UCSD won the Grand Orchid.

The Conrad Prebys Concert Hall at UCSD and the Cruise Ship Terminal at Broadway Pier took home the big prizes at last night's Orchids and Onions ceremony at the Culy Warehouse in downtown San Diego. The concert hall took home the Grand Orchid while the cruise ship terminal got handed the Grand Onion.

The People's Choice Orchid (based on online voting) went to the Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey at San Diego Zoo. The public showed their disdain for the proposed downtown Chargers Stadium by giving it the People's Choice Onion.

The Orchids and Onions program is a fundraiser for the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAFF) and includes a community conversation about San Diego's built environment - the buildings, landscapes, and interiors that inspire both awe and ire.


Those projects that are considered good are awarded an Orchid, and those that disappoint, an Onion. The public gets to vote through an online process and then a jury of architects, designers and artists vote on the final Orchids and Onions. That conversation culminates in the annual awards ceremony. Last night's drew a crowd close to 500, according to event organizers.

A lot of the usual suspects won awards last night: Orchids went to Jonathan Segal for The Q, Greg Strangman (owner of The Pearl) won for Community @ Martin Bldg. + Flats, and designer Michael Soriano won for the interior design of downtown bar Vin de Syrah.

I presented an Orchid for interior design to the St. Bartholomew Chapel on the Rincon Reservation. It's a pretty inspiring story and space.

I was especially glad to see MCASD's "Viva la Revolución: A Dialogue with the Urban Landscape" win an Orchid for Public Art.

I have to admit enjoying the Onion awards most of all, especially when the recipients are in the audience to receive their awards, as was the case for the Caltrans 1-5 Expansion and the La Mesa Police Station and City Hall Expansion. La Mesa mayor Art Madrid accepted the Onion for the police station/city hall expansion with a healthy dose of humor.


The Grand Orchid and Onion awards were announced at the end of the ceremony hosted by Sam the Cooking Guy. Here's a radio story I did on the gorgeous Conrad Prebys Concert Hall when it first opened in 2009.

Here's the list of this year's Orchid and Onion recipients, by catetgory, announced at last night's ceremony.

Grand Orchid

(Grand Orchid) – Conrad Prebys Concert Hall at UCSD

Grand Onion

(Grand Onion) – Cruise Ship Terminal and Utilities at Broadway Pier

People's Choice Awards

(People’s Choice Onion) –Proposed Downtown Chargers Stadium

(People’s Choice Orchid) – Harry and Grace Steele Elephant Odyssey at San Diego Zoo


(Orchid - Architecture) The Q

(Orchid - Architecture) UCSD Housing Dining & Hospitality Building

(Onion – Architecture) Logan Heights Library

Historic Preservation

(Orchid – Historic Preservation) Marston House

(Onion – Historic Preservation) Mormon Battalion Historical Site


(Orchid – Sustainable Design) DPR Construction Regional Headquarters Office

(Orchid – Social Sustainability) Community Properties

(Orchid – Social Sustainability) Urban Corps of San Diego County

Interior Design

(Orchid – Interior Design) Vin de Syrah

(Orchid – Interior Design) St. Bartholomew’s Chapel


(Onion – Planning) Caltrans I-5 North Coast Corridor Expansion

(Onion - Planning Policies) La Mesa Police Station and City Hall Annex Building Expansion

Landscape Architecture

(Orchid – Landscape Architecture) Olivewood Gardens

(Orchid - Landscape Architecture) Restoration Project for SONGS Mitigation (San Dieguito Wetlands)

Public Art

(Orchid – Public Art) Viva La Revolucion and the Hillcrest Mural by Shepard Fairey

What do you think of the awards? Agree or disagree with any of them? Any deserved orchids or onions the SDAFF missed?