The Good Built Environment

“The good building is not one that hurts the landscape but is one that makes the landscape more beautiful than it was before that building was built.”       -- Frank Lloyd Wright, 1957

If someone wanted to build a prominent new city in the middle of Yosemite Valley, how many people would be in favor of it? Not many. The idea that our built environment can enhance a pure natural environment is a tough sell. Yet when you see Machu Picchu in Peru with your own eyes, you begin to believe in this idea.Machu PicchuThe Inca civilization built a prominent city in the middle of a beautiful natural landscape and it worked. The site survived almost 400 years beneath the forest’s canopy and, today, it reveals to us the many connections possible between natural and man-made environments. What can we, as stewards of the built environment, learn from the people that built this incredible site?

The question is not whether we can build another Machu Picchu. Increases in knowledge and technology certainly provide more options for construction than were possible 500 years ago. Yet the trend towards more sustainable design practices today is something that was both a necessity and integral to their culture at Machu Picchu.  What we do share in common with the Incas is the power to make decisions about our own built environment.

Begun in 1450, Machu Picchu is thought to have been a spiritual retreat for the Inca emperor Pachacutec and a limited number of Inca elite. The “Inti” or sun was their god and they aligned much of their architecture to its movements, just as other earth-based spiritual cultures had done. When the Spanish Conquistadors decimated the Inca Empire beginning in 1532, Machu Picchu’s relative secrecy led to its abandonment and perhaps was key to its survival. Had the Spanish found Machu Picchu, or had others occupied it for the next 400 years, much of the site likely would have been destroyed. Instead, the explorer Hiram Bingham found it on July 24, 1911 and two years later National Geographic introduced the site to the world through the pages of its magazine.

Machu Picchu expands our ideas about the good built environment. While Ansel Adams elevated nature and wilderness in his compelling black and white photographs, Frank Lloyd Wright took his ability to create amazing architecture and more fully express the site on which it was built. As we celebrate the centennial of Machu Picchu’s discovery, we see possibilities for the natural and man-made environments to intersect and are inspired by the dreams of its builders.

Mike Torrey is an architectural photographer and author of the award winning book “Stone Offerings, Machu Picchu’s Terraces of Enlightenment”. He will be presenting a slide program entitled “Machu Picchu – A Centennial Celebration” at the Museum of Photographic Arts in Balboa Park on Wednesday, August 17th at 7:00 p.m. Tickets available at MoPA.org.

In Design We Trust


In our goal of promoting the value of architecture and design, how do we know whether we've made any real progress? One visible measure of impact is how much our local, and our country's leaders support quality design. In the article "In Design We Trust" Cathy Lang Ho argues that the US should articulate a position on the value of design, and catch up to various European governments that already overtly support architecture through government agencies, national policies, federally-funded initiatives, and investment and oversight of public buildings. Mark Robbins is working on a joint NEA / GSA initiative with the goal of proving "how the strength of design disciplines can work towards making all the other parts of our culture better, more efficient, and more successful."

Image Credit: Kelli Anderson
Post: Association of Architecture Organizations

Our Spring Newsletter is here!

Spring 2011 By DesignThe latest issue of "By Design" has arrived! Click above to view, and find our feature article by SDAF member, author and radio host Dirk Sutro, new books and Architectural App reviews, PechaKucha recaps, an O&O update, Norwegian Stavkirks in our new feature, The World of Architecture and more!

We also want to extend a big thanks to those SDAF members who supported our recent Strategic Planning process by participating in the member survey. Your input proved invaluable, and the information gleaned from it has been incorporated into our vision for the future, which we will be sharing more of in the coming weeks and months.

Part of that vision is providing benefits to our members that better express our appreciation for your support. We are incorporating many new and creative ideas into this goal, and are really having some fun with it. For starters, we are extending an invitation to our members to attend our exclusive interview with UCSD Campus Architect Boone Hellmann for free!

"A Very Special Evening with Boone Hellmann" will be held at the Neurosciences Institute, part of the Performing Arts at the Neurosciences Institute program on Wednesday, June 15th. The interview, open to the public, and free to SDAF members, will begin at 7:30. It will be conducted by Keith York (ModernSanDiego.com), and feature some very special guests. A cocktail reception prior to the interview ($25 for members) will begin at 5:30 in the courtyard of the Neurosciences. You must RSVP to this event to ensure seating! Click here for more info and to RSVP. We hope to see you there!

WANTED: SDAF Volunteer Coordinator!

volunteer!If you are looking for an opportunity to become involved, meet new people, and enjoy a challenging, fun and satisfying position, we have just the role for you - SDAF needs a Volunteer Coordinator (or two!)!

Participation in SDAF as our Volunteer Coordinator offers a great way to become immersed in the design/build community, enhance your network of contacts, and further develop your management skills.
   
Our current coordinator, Jenny Duck, will be transitioning into other areas of SDAF, but she will be around and is excited to help our new coordinator(s) transition into the role.

"For the past year and a half, I have had the privilege of serving as the Volunteer Coordinator for the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF). Getting involved in the Foundation has been such an amazing opportunity – both at the professional and personal level. I have met so many great people and forged new friendships in the design community." Jenny Duck

Please take a moment review the position. Then, let us know of your interest by sending a note to volunteer@sdarchitecture.org. We look forward to hearing from you! 

$25,000 Community Vision Award: 2011 nomination deadline nears. Nominate now!

CVA 2011 top left: Hamilton Row, 2008 winning project for North Park Main Street
top right:: MXD830, 2009 winning project for Greater Golden Hill CDC
bottom left: Village at Market Creek, winning project for
Jacobs Center for  Neighborhood Innovation

That's right! The call for nominations was made in the summer of 2010, and Friday, April 29th marks the last day to nominate a project in your neighborhood for the 2011 $25,000 Community Vision Award!

If you know of a mixed-use (both commercial and residential) project within your community that exemplifies design excellence, demonstrates positive results of community interaction with design and development entities (i.e. is community supported), provides for “Smart Growth” in terms of both respecting existing community patterns and yet is still additive to the quality and urban nature of the community, and is designed and built with sustainable design and environmental sensitivities - then we encourage you to encourage your community group to nominate it! It could mean $25,000 for further enhancement of your surroundings.

Learn more abou the Community Vision Award here. Nominations are accepted from community organizations only.

Inspire Japan

Inspire Japan
On February 20, 2010, SDAF took part in a Global PechaKucha for Haiti event.

This year, another unimaginable crises has occurred and continues to unfold in Japan, home of PechaKucha Night, and another global event, Inspire Japan, will take place on April 16th.

Although SDAF is not officially taking part in this global Ustream event, PKN San Diego Volume 11 will be held as planned on April 20th, and SDAF will be donating a portion of the night's proceeds to Habitat For Humanity through PechaKucha. In addition, we are hoping to include a presentation to pay homage and Inspire Japan.

Do you have something to share based on Inspire Japan's main themes of INSPIRE, JAPAN, THE ISSUES or RECOVERY? Great ideas or solutions that help deal with the issues at hand whether earthquake, tsunami, nuclear or the road to recovery are all welcomed - or the additional presentation could simply be about things that inspire us (like PechaKucha), or Japan and how it has inspired you. If you do have something to say and 20 images to say it with, send a note to pkn@sdarchitecture.org.

Read more about Inspire Japan here. If you have something to share but not enough time to put a presentation together (we need your images by April 13), please write us anyway. We hold 4 PechaKucha Nights a year, and we believe the themes mentioned above will prove significant for a long time to come.

PechaKucha Night San Diego: Volume 11

Join us on April 20th for PechaKucha Night San Diego: Volume 11 at the W Hotel. More information here. RSVP on Facebook here. See you there!PechaKucha Night SDV11

PKN #11

Earth Hour Benefit for Japan

On March 26, 2011 San Diego Architectural Foundation, San Diego's official host chapter of the Tokyo-based PechaKucha Night, will partner with Starwood San Diego, the San Diego Japanese Consulate, NBC San Diego, Sophie 103.7 and Discover SD to honor the recent tragedy in Japan as part of a very special “Earth Hour” ceremony. “Earth Hour” is an annual sustainability initiative that encourages people to drastically decrease energy usage for one full hour. This year’s “Earth Hour” carries with it a theme of global preservation, and a deep compassion for the recent tragedy in Japan.

Earth Hour Benefit for Japan will feature fun drink specials, wonderful performances and special guests. Click here for details about what is sure to be an exceptional evening. SDAF is honored to take part in this significant event - we hope to see you there!printable flyer available below

Plans for a friendlier Friendship Park

Friendship Park“Upon a solid basis relations of peace and friendship, which shall confer reciprocal benefits upon the citizens of both, and assure the concord, harmony, and mutual confidence wherein the two people should live, as good neighbors…."  the Treaty of Guadalupe Hidalgo signed February 2, 1848

The Friends of Friendship Park have submitted a proposal to San Diego Border Patrol enabling increased access and providing a more park-like feel for Friendship Circle Monument Park located between the U.S., Mexico and Pacific Ocean. Designed by heralded San Diego architect James Brown of Public Architecture and Planning, the design restores much of the original feel of Friendship Park during the park’s open hours by allowing for full access to three locations on the international boundary: the historic monument at the center of the park, the bi-national garden located to the east of the monument, and the beach below the monument to the west.

In 2009, an Onion-awarded second fence was constructed some 100’away from the existing border fence, severely restricting pedestrian access to the Monument. The meeting spot is historically and culturally significant to U.S. and Mexican citizens alike. The proposal aims to reestablish use of the park by all.

With a desire to unite rather than rather than divide further, the proposal offers some thoughtful commentary along with a comprehensive plan, including security and options for the future.

view the proposal here

Friendship Park from Kaley Hearnsberger on Vimeo.

Our Friends are your Friends

Our friends at the Friends of San Diego Architecture have launched a new website which includes a collection of almost 10,000 photographs of architecture in San Diego and beyond. The images were donated by Ned Paynter (1935-2007) a local historian and educator with a passion for travelling and architecture.

Paynter's photographs were taken over a period of 40 years as he traveled around the world with his camera in hand, ready to capture the great architecture of the world. Well organized into searchable categories, the collection focuses on the work of well-known modern American, British and European architects, in addition to urban landscapes from Medieval to Modern times.
  
Not forgetting his local stomping grounds, included in the San Diego gallery are nearly 500 photos, some of buildings which no longer exist including the one shown at right of the Tower Bowl, a 28-lane bowling alley built in 1940 and designed by prolific architect S. Charles Lee. Paynter entitled the shot "The Streamline Moderne by a West Coast Master". Sadly the Tower Bowl was demolished along with another Lee-designed gem just across the street, the Tower Theater. We're pleased to have access to the images providing these rich bits of San Diego design history. Thank you, Friends!

More about "West Coast Master" Lee's work here.

Join SDAF today

 

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

P.O. Box 122228
San Diego, CA 92112-2228
619.232.1385 Phone
Federal Tax ID: 95-3513927

info@sdarchitecture.org

You may join SDAF, renew or change your membership information by clicking here.