2021 Orchids & Onions Jury Tour; a tale of a tour.

On Saturday July 31st, our esteemed panel of Architects, Designers, Developers & Artists took off for a 21-stop tour around the county to experience in person the top-crop of this year’s Orchids & Onions nominations. In addition to our jury of design professionals, which you can read all about here, we were joined by SDAF VIP Member Lucy Campbell, Head Librarian at the NewSchool of Architecture & Design and our volunteer committee consisting of 2021 O&O Chair John Martinez, SDAF Directors Anne Militante & Roger Showley, Lead Photographer Ian Patzke, Sponsorship Coordinator & Photographer Jim Brady and our newest volunteer Nadine Viola who is the Business Development & Design Specialist at R&R Construction. Needless to say it was a rowdy crew ready for a busy day roaming about the county.
Starting at Balboa Park the first stop was at the San Diego Zoo which set us behind schedule from the very beginning. Having run a tight-ship on these O&O tours for a record 8-years now, I’ve become quite the herder when it comes to keeping our Jury on track, but starting this one late tested the very depths of my patience. All was eased when only 5-stops into the tour a gentle call for mimosas was suggested while we visited the Portside Pier, to which I was more than happy to oblige.
We looped through downtown and zipped off to south county to see the new First Station 5 in Chula Vista. Lunch was enjoyed nearby at Hungry Hank’s on Third Avenue who made some pretty fantastic sandwiches as the crew sat outside and debated the first few tour stops before we headed over to Bonita to see the new Library interiors. Unfortunately as Covid seems to be still causing havoc, the library was closed (on a weekend?!?) but we were able to make an impromptu stop at the Bonita Museum & Cultural Center, which was not one of the tour nominations but was a welcoming bathroom break. We made some new friends with the folks there, said our ‘thank yous’ and headed back out on the road.
An obligatory mid-tour cocktail was in order and so we overstayed our welcome at Realm of 52 Remedies as I convinced the staff to knock out not one but two ‘tasting’ cocktails to keep the crew fueled for the remainder of the tour. Up next was the High Tech High Campus in Mesa we then were headed towards Kellogg Park at La Jolla Shores to check out a wonderful boardwalk mural, little was I thinking when I planned the tour that mid-afternoon on a Saturday would be a terrible time to drive a 25-passenger bus into La Jolla Shores, but our fearless bus driver Kathryn was up for the challenge.
The largest project on the tour was the 10-acre North Torrey Pines Living & Learning Neighborhood at UCSD. Guided by Architects Ricardo Rabines & Eric Lindebak we could have spent 3-hours walking just this one stop, but we were behind schedule, so off we went to our last stop before heading back to Balboa Park.
One of the personal reasons I got involved with SDAF was to get to hang out with some of the city’s best Architects & Designers and while the Orchids & Onions program isn’t short of it’s controversy, for me it’s a chance to geek out with new friends & respected colleagues and this year was no exception. We ended the day with dinner & drinks at The Corner in Bankers Hill. Stories were told, napkins were sketched on and at some point Dave confused us all talking about full body scanning…an awesome Saturday in my book.
Photos by Ian Patzke Photography – check out his work @ian.patzke on the Gram.

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