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At McCullough, Navigating the Ever-Changing Landscape Is a Family Affair

Whatever Catherine and David McCullough’s system, it’s worked for the 21 years they’ve been in business together  — and ever since they met at a Hollywood nightclub during college. The husband and wife duo behind McCullough Landscape Architecture strikes the perfect chord as partners in life and in work. She’s …

Photo courtesy: San Diego Magazine

Whatever Catherine and David McCullough’s system, it’s worked for the 21 years they’ve been in business together  — and ever since they met at a Hollywood nightclub during college.

The husband and wife duo behind McCullough Landscape Architecture strikes the perfect chord as partners in life and in work. She’s the go-getting extrovert, he’s the conscientious introvert.

“We each have different strengths, so we’re a great balance for each other,” David says.

Specializing in landscape architecture, environmental planning and urban design, McCullough Landscape Architecture is a valued partner of the San Diego Architectural Foundation. David also sits on SDAF’s Board of Directors and spearheads the foundation’s popular PechaKucha program.

Back in 2006, David helped bring the popular Orchids & Onions awards program to the organization and co-chaired the show for its first two years under SDAF’s direction.

The couple’s people-focused approach, and David’s passion for the built environment, makes them strong believers in SDAF and its mission to inspire others to appreciate the built environment.

Here’s a look at the McCulloughs’ expertise and the conscientious philosophy behind their company’s success.

Shaping the Landscape with People in Mind

 

A graduate of the marketing program at Fashion Institute of Design & Merchandising (FIDM) in L.A., Catherine serves as McCullough’s president and chief executive officer, as well as chief marketing officer. She took the post in 2002, allowing the firm to become a woman-owned Small Business Enterprise.

A seasoned marketing professional, before joining her husband in business Catherine served as marketing director for Westfield UTC mall. Though her strong suit is marketing and business development, she also oversees human resources and finances.

David, meanwhile, serves as McCullough’s principal landscape architect. A graduate of Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo, he formed McCullough Landscape Architecture in 1999 as a sole proprietor.

In overseeing all aspects of project design and production, he says he’s more imaginative and less organized than his wife. Yet he brings a mindfulness and easy-going temperament to the role that is well suited to the serene landscapes he designs in his clients’ vision.

David’s passion for landscape architecture led to the company’s founding. While MLA champions an empathetic approach to the landscape, empathy also shines through in the couple’s others-focused attitude.

A plant improvement project from McCullough in La Jolla Cove

“People, and human need in general, are the driving force behind all our projects,” David says. “While some landscape architects are energized by the prospect of bringing their own vision to life, what moves us is creating a better human experience for others.”

Famed 20th century landscape architect Thomas Church once said “gardens are for people,” but David takes it a step further, saying the built environment is for people.

“Landscape architecture highlights the interplay between the human world and the natural world,” he says. “By being mindful of nature, and by listening to what clients hope to achieve with any given project, it’s possible to meet their needs and my own professional standards at the same time.”

Priorities Rooted in Family

 

As important as the business is to them, for David and Catherine, family always comes first. Maintaining a work-life balance “is probably one of the biggest challenges” when you’re a married couple working together, Catherine says. But striking that balance is worthwhile.

Parents to Molly, almost 18, and William, 19, the couple is preparing to become empty-nesters this fall. “Our kids always come first,” Catherine says. “I do feel confident that we’ve been present in our kids’ lives.”

In business and in life, the McCulloughs live in a conscientious manner that continues to shape their course and their goals.

“We’re here on this planet for just a short time,” David says. “The last thing we ever want is to say we took up space. We want to feel like we gave more than we took. And that’s what drives us, every day.”

To learn more about McCullough Landscape Architecture, check out Ian Patzke’s personable interview with David.

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Working the Angles: A Look Through the Lens of an Architectural Photographer

For architectural photographer Jim Brady, it’s all about light and framing the shot.   When Jim Brady’s childhood dream of becoming an architect fizzled his sophomore year of college, he turned to Plan B. Having realized architecture wasn’t the right fit for him, he developed an affinity for photography and …

For architectural photographer Jim Brady, it’s all about light and framing the shot.

 

When Jim Brady’s childhood dream of becoming an architect fizzled his sophomore year of college, he turned to Plan B. Having realized architecture wasn’t the right fit for him, he developed an affinity for photography and transferred to the Massachusetts College of Art and Design.

Shortly after graduation, Brady found himself perusing the aisles of an architectural bookstore. He bought a book on architectural photography. It changed his world.

In the years since then, Brady has made a name for himself as one of San Diego’s most notable architectural photographers. He runs his own business, and for the past three years has been an important contributor to SDAF’s Orchids & Onions program. Here’s a look at Brady’s career, his perspective, and what he brings to the table as an Orchids & Onions committee member.

 

A Deeply Instilled Appreciation for Architecture

After leaving the architectural bookstore all those years ago, Brady immediately started looking into a career as an architectural photographer. Until then, it was an industry he didn’t even know existed. But by the time Brady moved to San Diego in 1987 to work as an assistant in the field, he was one step closer to starting his business, Brady Architectural Photography. He launched it two years later, in 1989.

“Buildings and the built environment have always been my favorite thing,” Brady says. “The built environment is about creating a stage for the world we live in, a backdrop to life.”

Brady’s shot of Studio E Architects

Brady is committed to understanding each client’s visual needs and delivering high quality images that bring spaces to life. His work has appeared in several architectural publications, such as Dwell, Custom Home and Big Ideas for Small Spaces.

As a kid, Brady enjoyed touring historic homes with his parents. Something about it excited him. He’d find a point in the room where everything seemed exactly right. It made him feel balanced. “I still love that,” he says. “I love moving through spaces, the way the light hits a room or angles work together.”

Brady especially finds inspiration in navigating a project’s framework. “Boundaries,” he says, “give me a goal.”

Orchids & Onions A Special Tradition to Be Part of

As the lead sponsorship volunteer for SDAF’s Orchids & Onions program, Brady works closely with sponsors, acting as a facilitator between them and the Orchids & Onions committee. The role is especially useful in the lead-up to the annual people’s choice awards, taking place Oct. 1. Serving on the Orchids & Onions committee adds a new dimension to Brady’s career as an architectural photographer.

“It’s invigorating being around people who talk about and look at architecture in the same way I do,” he says. “There’s an element of being back at art school again. You get the energy of the discussion, the interest, the passion, the commonality.”

As an Orchids & Onions committee member, Brady enjoys the jury discussion and touring nominated sites with jurors who are experts in their field.

“A lot of the people in my life are not heavily involved with architecture and design,” Brady says. “So for me, connecting with an organization such as SDAF, where people are thinking and talking about architecture, it fills a void.”

Check out more of Brady’s photos here.

Nominations for Orchids & Onions are now open, so be sure to nominate a project and have your voice heard!

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Building a Strong Foundation for Women in Construction One Brick at a Time

Women in construction are a rare breed. But Carmen Vann feels quite comfortable in the industry she’s called home for more than 20 years. Drawn to a career in construction by a deeply rooted passion for buildings, Vann works as a regional project executive at BNBuilders, a construction firm known …

Women in construction are a rare breed. But Carmen Vann feels quite comfortable in the industry she’s called home for more than 20 years. Drawn to a career in construction by a deeply rooted passion for buildings, Vann works as a regional project executive at BNBuilders, a construction firm known best for projects in the life sciences.

“It’s really important to have women in these positions in order to create policies that are equitable to women and men alike,” Vann says. “Diversity helps to chip away at some of the outdated mindsets that have built up over centuries, and I’m happy to play a role in that evolution.”

While Vann brings an important perspective to San Diego’s construction industry, as an SDAF Board Member, she also brings a unique viewpoint to SDAF. A proven leader in the construction industry, her track record includes the successful management of several complex construction projects within San Diego, most notably leading the construction of Park 12, the San Diego New Central Library and Sempra Energy Headquarters. Most recently she led efforts on Stella and Bluewater, 160 units of much needed affordable housing in San Diego.

Collectively, Vann has led construction efforts on varying project types valued at more than $850 million within the San Diego region, and her achievements make her one of the most accomplished women in construction in the area.

A Longtime Interest in Building Becomes a Career

 

Vann got her big break in construction while in her mid-20s. After following friends to Nashville, Tenn., she was hired as a project engineer at Turner Construction, one of the largest construction firms in the country. Vann moved on from Nashville after a few years, but she stayed with Turner Construction for 17 years.

“I have always had a passion for buildings,” Vann says. “I didn’t always know how I would address it, but I knew I would.”

The seed was planted early, when Vann attended a high school specializing in pre-engineering. She studied everything from aerospace science to architectural design, and by the time she was a junior, Vann was eyeing a career in architectural engineering.

College at North Carolina Agricultural and Technical State University showed her that she’d thrive in something more interactive. When Vann discovered construction management as a college student, a new world opened to her. “It was the perfect intersection of architecture and application of construction,” Vann recalls. “The best of both worlds.”

Laying the Groundwork for Thriving Communities

 

As Vann has grown in the profession, her passion for construction has evolved into something much more potent — a level of care for the communities her projects serve.

While Vann has been a force behind many a “sexy” project like Hard Rock Hotel, what matters more to her are projects like the library that brings literacy to a community. Or housing developments that provide affordable quality living experiences for all who need it.

A resident of North Park and former North Park Community Association Board Member, Vann is an out woman of color who cares deeply about equality. She received a civil rights honor award from the LGBT Community of San Diego for her efforts in that realm, and it inspired in her an urge to do more.

“Receiving the award really sparked in me a level of responsibility,” Vann says. “I am who I am. I want equality. I want discrimination to fall by the wayside. I want hearts and minds to change. But the award provoked me to have a larger voice.”

As an out person in construction, Vann is a rarity. But her philosophy is simple.

“My goal is to do the best job I can at all times,” she says. “I want to serve my clients and my community. I want people to know me as someone who provides excellent service, and to be treated as the professional I am. It’s always my hope that people know me by my work, and by the excellent quality I commit to when I’m serving my clients.”

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Meet the Orchids & Onions Jury: A Look at Ron Roberts

As our loyal audience, you answered our call for Orchids & Onions jurors. Now the jury is taking shape! We’ll be shining a spotlight on O&O jurors bit by bit as they’re chosen. First in our juror spotlight is former San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who served in public …

As our loyal audience, you answered our call for Orchids & Onions jurors. Now the jury is taking shape! We’ll be shining a spotlight on O&O jurors bit by bit as they’re chosen. First in our juror spotlight is former San Diego County Supervisor Ron Roberts, who served in public office for 31 years.

Elected to the San Diego County Board of Supervisors in 1994, Roberts was deeply involved in San Diego civic life for more than three decades. The impacts of his advocacy can be seen countywide. Most notably, Roberts advocated for San Pasqual Academy, a unique residential campus for foster teens. He also threw his support behind Waterfront Park, helping to transform parking lots and weedy plots into a seaside asset.

A former member of the San Diego City Council and the San Diego Planning Commission, Roberts is a professional architect by trade. Before being elected to City Council in 1987, he had a 20-year career as an architect, serving as managing partner of a large firm. He earned his bachelor’s degree in social sciences from San Diego State University and a master’s degree in architecture from the University of California, Berkeley.

As an Orchids & Onions juror, Roberts brings a knowledge of architecture and a commitment to the San Diego landscape, one he has helped shape through three decades of thoughtful decision making.

“Ron’s deep background in architecture and San Diego government makes him a great fit for the Orchids & Onions jury,” said Orchids & Onions committee member Brandon Nash. “He understands the impact that design has on the urban landscape, for better or worse, and his three decades of decision making as a civic leader will bring a valuable perspective to Orchids & Onions 2020.”

 

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SDAF’s Resident Educator is Schooled in Architecture and the World

When Jose Parral joined the SDAF Board of Directors in January, he recognized an opportunity to influence San Diego’s built environment and the next generation of designers. As Architecture Chair at Woodbury University’s San Diego campus, Parral cares deeply about San Diego students, and he’d like SDAF to play a …

When Jose Parral joined the SDAF Board of Directors in January, he recognized an opportunity to influence San Diego’s built environment and the next generation of designers.

As Architecture Chair at Woodbury University’s San Diego campus, Parral cares deeply about San Diego students, and he’d like SDAF to play a role in influencing rising stars of the future.

Parral brings a unique perspective to SDAF, one deeply rooted in his Latino upbringing. A native San Diegan, in many respects he’s an international melting pot. His parents emigrated here from Mexico, and he’s part of the first generation in his family to be born here. As a teenager, he yearned to explore his Latino identity. But as a minority raised in the San Diego suburbs, he never felt he had that freedom.

Finding Inspiration in World-Class Cities

That changed when Parral attended community college after high school, as he met people from all over San Diego. Then at UC Berkeley, at 21, Parral traveled far beyond southern California and began to view the world differently.

“Together, my international experiences opened my eyes to what’s possible in San Diego,” he says. “That history, that worldly point of view, is what I bring to the SDAF board.”

Parral was the first in his family to earn a college degree. He earned his bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from UC Berkeley and his master’s degree in landscape urbanism from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. As a recipient of the Kate L. Brewster Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture, he also spent a year in the Italian capital, studying the city’s ancient architecture.

In exploring cities like Paris, Rome and Barcelona, Parral learned that through small, simple measures, designers can fundamentally improve public spaces and build them to last. San Diego is a big step closer to standing among the great architectural centers of the world, especially with influential programs like Open House San Diego and Orchids & Onions. But it will take a bit more work.

The solution lies in SDAF’s mission — to inspire San Diegans to discover the value of thoughtful design in the natural and built environment.

“Design does play a role in how we live and behave,” Parral says. “If people can understand the role of design in politics, in culture, in society as a whole, I think that becomes really important to changing the world.”

 

Education and Design Together Can Shape Urban Landscapes

Parral’s time in Europe showed him that preservation can play a vital role in shaping urban landscapes for the better. In his work today, he recognizes that SDAF can take the lead in helping local leaders decide when to advocate for preservation, and when to advocate for change.

As the resident educator on SDAF’s Board of Directors, Parral sits on the Scholarship Committee and BEEP Committee, SDAF’s program for youth. He sees young designers as the future, and strives to do all he can to help them reach their potential.

Parral understands how education and design work together to shape the urban landscape. A resident of Logan Heights, where the sense of community is strong, he sees how Woodbury influences those who live there. It’s not just a school. It’s a place where decisions are made. And that, Parral says, influences the broader community.

“At Woodbury, education moves beyond buildings on campus and goes out into the real world,” he says. “For me, joining the SDAF Board of Directors was another way to bring that to life.”

Learn more about the professionals who make up the SDAF Board of Directors.

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For Scholarship Recipients, Education is a Pillar of the SDAF Community

Jessica Patrick is on her way up. The 2019 NewSchool of Architecture & Design graduate earned the 2019 AIA student merit award for her thesis about using neuroscience to create empathetic designs in place of prison architecture. And she’s one of four recipients of the 2019 Pillars Scholarship. Funded in …

Jessica Patrick is on her way up. The 2019 NewSchool of Architecture & Design graduate earned the 2019 AIA student merit award for her thesis about using neuroscience to create empathetic designs in place of prison architecture.

And she’s one of four recipients of the 2019 Pillars Scholarship. Funded in partnership between the NewSchool of Architecture & Design and the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF), Pillars scholarships are awarded annually to students who demonstrate academic achievement and a commitment to supporting NewSchool’s pillars — things like human welfare, technology and sustainability — through their work.

At SDAF, where the mission is deeply tied to architectural education, supporting scholarships such as the Pillars is a natural fit.

As a Pillars Scholar, Patrick was drawn to the opportunity to research her passion overseas. The scholarship allowed her to study for four weeks in Santiago de Compostela, Spain and share her work with the local community.

In NewSchool’s Spain workshop, students learn about architecture and craftsmanship done by hand. And with a concentration in neuroscience for architecture, Patrick was eager to see the impact that woodwork, masonry and metalwork could have on one’s well-being.

Masonry most of all left Patrick wanting more, as chiseling and cutting away stone made her feel deeply connected to the craft.

“It’s meditative, and there’s an art to it,” she says. “By bringing neuroscience to the process, you’re working with the movement of the body to craft different forms, and it’s very therapeutic.”

The experience left Patrick wondering about the physiological impacts that stone’s properties could have on alleviating addiction, depression, violence and boredom, much like the effects of nature. She plans to study this further. After all, the communities that architects create can have a tremendous impact on the way people feel.

SDAF Membership Creates Networking Opportunities for Students and Recent Grads

While Patrick wants to play a role in using architecture to create positive change, she also aspires to win an Orchid at Orchids & Onions, SDAF’s annual people’s choice awards for the best and worst architecture of the year. And it’s worth noting that Patrick isn’t just a distant admirer of SDAF; she’s also a member.

Patrick joined SDAF last summer after meeting some of the SDAF team at NewSchool. It wasn’t long before she began attending meetings for Open House San Diego (OH!) and taking advantage of the networking opportunities that the foundation brings.

“Joining SDAF is a great way to become more familiar with San Diego architecture,” she says. “I enjoy the openness and inclusiveness of the SDAF community and the education it provides.”

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OH! San Diego 2020 Photo Contest Winners Announced

We again received more than 200 entries in our Open House San Diego (OH! San Diego) photo competition. Thank you for your submissions! We hope you enjoyed OH! San Diego 2020 and the opportunities it provides to celebrate San Diego’s built environment through photography. Our judges selected first- and second-place …

We again received more than 200 entries in our Open House San Diego (OH! San Diego) photo competition. Thank you for your submissions! We hope you enjoyed OH! San Diego 2020 and the opportunities it provides to celebrate San Diego’s built environment through photography.

Our judges selected first- and second-place winners in Interior, Exterior and Detail categories, as well as a student winner. Congratulations to all of the winners!

Interior Category

First Place: Kurt Kiel (image below of the Eckart Building at Scripps Institution of Oceanography)

 

Second Place: Jeff Ferguson (image below of the Old Director’s House at Scripps Institution of Oceanography)

 

Exterior Category

First Place: David Weiner (image below of Scripps Institution of Oceanography)

 

Second Place: John Muller (image below of Balboa Park Recital Hall)

 

Detail Category

First Place: Michael Booth (image below of a light fixture at Shayan House in Bankers Hill)

 

Second Place:  Adrienne Hulme (image below of a fan at Morning Glory)

 

Student Winner

Elena Hall (image below of Balboa Park’s California Tower and the domed roof of the Museum of Man)

Thanks to:

Photo competition organizer: David Harrison of Harrison Photographic

Photo competition judge: Mike Savacool, co-founder and chief strategic officer at Less+More, a San Diego-based creative agency.

Prize sponsors: Nelson Photo, Warwick’s Books

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SDAF Partner Spotlight: Delawie Up Close

Architecture. Experience. Integrity. Since 1961, Delawie has built a name for itself on those vital cornerstones, and SDAF is proud to count the San Diego-based firm as an Annual Partner and program sponsor of Open House San Diego (OH!). In our inaugural partner spotlight, we look at what makes Delawie …

Architecture. Experience. Integrity. Since 1961, Delawie has built a name for itself on those vital cornerstones, and SDAF is proud to count the San Diego-based firm as an Annual Partner and program sponsor of Open House San Diego (OH!).

In our inaugural partner spotlight, we look at what makes Delawie tick, from its people to its expertise. Since its founding, Delawie has made a lasting impact on Southern California’s built environments with designs that complement skylines and transform communities. The firm’s reach can be seen in industries as diverse as defense, technology, life science, hospitality, health and education.

A leading firm specializing in sustainable and high-performance architecture, interior design, planning and entitlements, Delawie’s designs foster learning, shape communities, and solidify corporate identity — all while making facilities more functional.

With collaborative design at its heart, Delawie has embraced a “holistic philosophy” that empowers its staff of over 60 of the brightest minds in architecture and interior design to merge all aspects of its projects. Propelled by talented designers who believe in advocacy as much as collaboration, Delawie is a lifelong supporter of AIA. In fact, seven of its team members have served as AIA chapter presidents.

With several awards for distinguished design from the San Diego Green Building Council and Engineering News-Record (ENR) California, among others, Delawie’s design team has also earned Orchids from SDAF for its work on the Imperial Beach Library, Mesa College Math and Sciences Building, and NOAA Southwest Fisheries Science Center.

To learn more about the firm and see their most notable projects, visit Delawie.com.

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At SDAF, Volunteering Can Open Doors to a Bigger World

Nikki Holloway had been looking forward to volunteering for OH! San Diego ever since she missed the chance last year. A marketing coordinator at Balfour Beatty, Holloway and her boyfriend, Rob Rusnak, finally got the opportunity to participate in the citywide celebration of San Diego’s built environment this March, when …

SDAF volunteering opens doors

Nikki Holloway had been looking forward to volunteering for OH! San Diego ever since she missed the chance last year. A marketing coordinator at Balfour Beatty, Holloway and her boyfriend, Rob Rusnak, finally got the opportunity to participate in the citywide celebration of San Diego’s built environment this March, when they volunteered for OH! San Diego in Balboa Park.

“OH! San Diego is such a cool event,” Holloway says. “By opening nearly 100 architecturally unique sites to the public — sites that aren’t always accessible — the design showcase exposes residents to some of the city’s most iconic structures. It’s a great volunteering opportunity, because it allows you to get to know the city and establish a stronger cultural identity.”

Benefits of SDAF volunteering

Nikki Holloway with her boyfriend, Rob Rusnak, volunteering as part of OH! San Diego 2020

Volunteering at SDAF Driven by Strong Sense of Community

For Holloway, who’s lived here since the age of 3, volunteering for OH! made her feel more connected to home. Long an admirer of San Diego’s built environment, Holloway has followed SDAF for a few years. Drawn by her interest in historical preservation, she found that the more she attended SDAF events like PechaKucha Night, the more she wanted, well…more. Behind her growing enthusiasm are the people and energy that make SDAF events feel so inclusive.

“The people are passionate about what they do, and that really shines through,” says Holloway, who has a degree in visual and performing arts and is a member of the Design Forward Alliance. “You especially get a sense of that when you volunteer. All of it together makes me feel part of something bigger than myself.”

In the last few years, Holloway has enjoyed San Diego’s culinary scene, and she savors the restorative power of local nurseries, trails and gardens. She’s active with the Sierra Club, and is teaming with her Balfour Beatty coworkers in a Habitat for Humanity event this year.

Just as all of these things add balance to her life, so does design. Next in her SDAF involvement, Holloway would like to volunteer for Orchids & Onions, SDAF’s celebration of the year’s most notable (and questionable) architecture and design. She hopes to contribute when the celebration takes place Oct. 1.

“It feels great to help out,” she says. “I want SDAF as an organization to thrive and reach others, because I enjoy being part of it. Let’s get the word out.”

There’s something for everyone at SDAF. Sign up to volunteer with us and let us know how you’d like to contribute. You never know where it can lead.

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San Diego Architectural Foundation

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San Diego Architectural Foundation is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization dedicated to education and promotion of outstanding architecture, planning and urban design throughout the San Diego region.

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