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Sowing the Seeds for Orchids & Onions Success with Alicia Griffiths

When Alicia Griffiths returned to San Diego after 10 years in London, she didn’t know what was in store. But it’s clear she’s landed in the right place. With 14 years of public relations experience to her name, Griffiths is the newest addition to the Orchids & Onions team — …

When Alicia Griffiths returned to San Diego after 10 years in London, she didn’t know what was in store. But it’s clear she’s landed in the right place.

With 14 years of public relations experience to her name, Griffiths is the newest addition to the Orchids & Onions team — a public relations volunteer at the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF). Having worked for tech startups in San Francisco before leading communications campaigns in London for the likes of L’Oreal, Salesforce and Mastercard, Griffiths brings a keen PR and marketing awareness to the role.

Craving a career change, Griffiths returned home to San Diego in 2016 with her husband, Laurence. The daughter of an interior decorator, design long has played a pivotal role in Griffiths’ life. Feeling a creative itch, she wanted to give it a try herself.

“I did my interior design schooling while raising two kids, and here in San Diego, I wanted to combine both of those passions,” she says. “The San Diego Architectural Foundation allows me to do that.”

For Orchids & Onions, Griffiths serves as a liaison between the committee and local media, inspiring them to promote the annual people’s choice awards (and SDAF’s signature event) in their communications. She also provides strategic input on the event’s wider marketing strategy.

Although Orchids & Onions is a San Diego tradition of 40-plus years, Griffiths was new to it, having spent so many years overseas.

“What I love about my role is the ability to help the community see why design matters,” she says. “I love the aesthetics of design, but it actually has a concrete benefit for people that they’re not always aware of. It impacts quality of life, well-being, how we interact with the community and workplace. And I think all of that is really impactful.”

As a San Diego institution, Orchids & Onions introduces the public to exceptional (and questionable) design where they live, work and play. Part of Griffiths’ role is to nurture the public’s appreciation for design.

She’s doing it at a time when the 2020 Orchids & Onions awards will be different from any other in its history. For the first time, O&O, as some call it, will be virtual. That will allow the awards, long considered an exclusive celebration, to reach a much wider audience.

“With it being virtual, Orchids & Onions 2020 will be really unique,” Griffiths says. “There’s no blueprint for this type of event. I embrace the challenges and opportunities in bringing more people into the SDAF fold as we face a pandemic. It feels like there is no limit to what we can do, and that’s exciting.”

Have you nominated a project for Orchids & Onions yet? The deadline to nominate is July 10, so nominate a project while you still can!

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Shining a Light on SDAF Board Member Maddy MacElwee

As treasurer of the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF), Maddy MacElwee enjoys doing her part to further the foundation’s mission. She’s served on the SDAF Board of Directors since 2016, after being nominated by SDAF President Margit Whitlock. Working on the sales and construction side of the design industry inspired …

As treasurer of the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF), Maddy MacElwee enjoys doing her part to further the foundation’s mission. She’s served on the SDAF Board of Directors since 2016, after being nominated by SDAF President Margit Whitlock. Working on the sales and construction side of the design industry inspired MacElwee to find an outlet for her creative side, and she was happy to find it through the foundation.

“SDAF helps me use the other side of my brain,” MacElwee says. “I love the relationships I’ve been able to build with my fellow board members. The foundation has immersed me in the San Diego design community, and I really enjoy having the opportunity to spread the word about SDAF and its mission.”

Lighting Up a Promising Career

MacElwee’s life story is nothing if not a lesson in resilience. She’s rebounded from hard times more than once, and tenacity propels her forward. Having grown up poor in Chula Vista (her family led puppet shows at the Balboa Park Puppet Theater), MacElwee was blessed not with ample opportunities, but with an internal drive that served her well.

A project at Summit Point that TLE played a hand in

In 1990, MacElwee was 23, a single mother without a college education. Nonetheless, she landed her first office job working for a lighting representative in Seattle. A few years later, she moved back to San Diego and began a slow, steady climb through the ranks of reputable lighting companies. By 2016, she had founded The Lighting Element (TLE) and become an independent rep for Philips lighting and many other reputable lighting brands.

As a business, TLE represents lighting manufacturers, making recommendations for lighting products used in various building projects. Acclaimed projects TLE has worked on include the San Diego Convention Center and the Immaculata Church at the University of San Diego, which won a national IES award for lighting design by Ron Neal Lighting Design.

“Lighting can really make a huge impact on a building or a room,” MacElwee says. “You can spend all the money in the world on the building and the finishes, but if it’s not well lit, you won’t visually appreciate its beauty. The best lighting designs are ones where you notice the impact of the architecture. Unless the luminaires are showpiece decorative items, you should notice the effect of the lighting, not the fixtures themselves.”

Today TLE has 11 employees, including MacElwee, the CEO, and her husband Scott, the company’s vice president. TLE’s values are inherent in MacElwee herself. They’re things like “Be a champion,” “Be people smart,” “Dare to be different,” and “Be humble.

Maddy and her husband, Scott, at a Padres game

“I think humility is the most important of all our corporate values, because you never know what it’s like to be in somebody’s shoes,” MacElwee says. “Most conflict comes from misunderstanding somebody else’s perspective.”

‘Creating an Atmosphere’ for the End User

MacElwee comes across as sweet — and she is. She has a gift for motivating people, believing that success is a marathon, not a sprint. But in the construction industry, you have to have thick skin. MacElwee, who had her first child at 17, has her share of that, too.

“Lighting should create an atmosphere that the end user is looking for,” MacElwee says, “whether it’s drama, function or subtlety.” She likes the fact that light is similar to life. “There’s a big component of light that’s necessary to live,” she says. “I like to think that what we do at TLE matters, that it’s helping to move the needle for people in some way.”

No matter what happens, MacElwee strives to stay positive, and it’s served her well. “I wake up every day moving forward,” she says. “If you work really hard and keep your word, you can really go far. I believe our biggest obstacle in life is our own self-doubt. If you can overcome that, you can do anything.”

Learn more about the 2020 SDAF Board of Directors and their achievements.

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Member Spotlight: Curtis Micklish Has a Big Vision for Small Living

Curtis Micklish, the man behind Micklish Studio, joined the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF) because he wanted to feel part of the local design community. Impressed by SDAF’s Orchids & Onions, PechaKucha and Open House programs, Micklish relishes the sense of belonging he feels through SDAF. “SDAF gives the design …

Curtis Micklish, the man behind Micklish Studio, joined the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF) because he wanted to feel part of the local design community. Impressed by SDAF’s Orchids & Onions, PechaKucha and Open House programs, Micklish relishes the sense of belonging he feels through SDAF.

“SDAF gives the design community a voice to be heard and allows us to appreciate the great designs of San Diego’s past and present,” Micklish says. “We’re a big city that still feels small, and SDAF events really bring that out. There’s a certain level of intimacy to them that makes them special.”

Also special are the talents and expertise that members like Micklish bring to SDAF. Through their artistry and professionalism, SDAF members are helping to shape San Diego’s built environment. And as a building designer, Micklish plays a key role in that.

For Micklish and his wife, Christina, who heads up Urbanist Guide San Diego, it’s been a dream to be able to create a home in Hillcrest. They established roots there two-and-a-half years ago, and it’s a community they have embraced at every turn.

 

Big Ideas Create a Bigger Feel

So it’s all the more gratifying for Micklish, the building designer behind The Jackson and The Duke, to know that his next project, Cayuca, will be in Hillcrest.

Cayuca will be a small-living residential community that embraces concepts such as Hygge, a Danish and Norwegian word meaning “mood of coziness.” It aims to bring more happiness to daily life through simplicity and sustainability.

“I started to realize that we could do it smaller,” Micklish says of his vision for the residential development. “There definitely is a ceiling on larger apartments in San Diego. They’re getting too expensive, only attracting a certain type of person. When people can no longer afford it, that’s when it starts to shift for me.”

Micklish is intent on staying on budget so Cayuca can be affordable for buyers. To keep costs down, he chose to focus on small-space living.

Breaking ground on Cayuca in August, the complex at 10th and Robinson will consist of 25 units — eight two-bedrooms and 17 studios. Usually, the scale of the building would be 20,000 square feet, yet Cayuca will be nearly half that — 12,500 square feet.

Micklish found inspiration for Cayuca in the renovation of his home. The previous owner had split the 750 sf + garage into four small living spaces. Inhabiting just 150 square feet of space himself, he rented the other three units.

“It inspired the idea of carving out unique niches for bed spaces, so you feel like you still have this nice living space but you’re living in smaller square footage,” Micklish says. “It’s livable, but your rent and utility bills are a lot less. Those are some of the pieces that inspired Cayuca.”

Sustainable Materials Help Reduce Costs, Carbon Footprint

 

A rendering of what Cayuca will look like

 

From that vision, Micklish started to integrate sustainable elements into the mix. With the escalation of global warming, he feels a responsibility to do his part to combat it. It’s required ingenuity and a shift in mindset.

In practicing sustainable strategies such as partnering with Habitat for Humanity, Micklish is deconstructing the existing buildings to recycle building materials. In doing so, he receives the benefits of a tax rebate and reduces Cayuca’s footprint in the heart of San Diego.

“It’s a key to creating the housing that San Diego needs right now and to making it affordable,” he says. “We’re doing that by making things smaller and more sustainable.”

For Micklish, a self-described building designer and builder, every project starts with a vision that slowly evolves into a design. Driven by a desire to improve the feel of spaces, he aspires to create a place he’d like to live in.

“It takes a lot to be able to guide and execute a vision,” he says. “I work on a project from start to finish. I don’t know if I could do it any other way.”

The Power of Effective Design

Micklish’s father was a carpenter who worked himself up to management and who “gave everything” to his work. Growing up a witness to his father’s passion, Micklish learned to care deeply about his own design process.

He candidly professes that design is an addiction for him. It has been since he first felt inspired by a design magazine at age 19. It stirred something in him, and it wasn’t long before he built a coffee table for Christina. Carving out a vision, quite literally, “felt magical to me,” he says.

“That’s why people want to be carpenters, you can transform the space,” he adds. “Design is transformational, too. Cayuca is an example of how design can transform how you feel, how you live and how you connect with your community.”

Moving back to Hillcrest from Mount Helix even made the Micklishes feel more connected to each other. Redesigning their 400 square-foot Hillcrest home to make it more livable put them more closely in touch with their priorities.

“Small space is not for everybody,” Micklish says. “But it does cause us to reflect on what we want out of life. It frees us from this idea of excess. It’s quite liberating in that regard.”

Are you an SDAF member who would like to be highlighted in our communications? Email us at info@sdarchitecture.org and let us know what you’re working on.

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3 Ways to Learn About Diversity in Design

The protests against racial injustice sweeping the nation have caused us to reflect on what more we can do to help advocate for a more diverse society. By sharing the resources below, we hope to spur and become part of a thoughtful discussion on diversity.  For those in the architecture …

The protests against racial injustice sweeping the nation have caused us to reflect on what more we can do to help advocate for a more diverse society. By sharing the resources below, we hope to spur and become part of a thoughtful discussion on diversity.  For those in the architecture and design space interested in learning more, here are some films, books and articles to get you started.

Discover Paul Williams. Paul Williams was the first African-American to become a member of the American Institute of Architects in 1923, and he was inducted as the AIA’s first Black fellow in 1957. Learn more about his fascinating and trailblazing journey (which includes teaching himself to draw upside down so that his white clients would not have to sit on the same side of the table) in this AIA article or through this PBS documentary.

Learn about the “Tu White School of Architecture.” Are architecture schools doing enough to improve diversity? It’s too little too slow, according to the designer and advocate behind the Tu White School of Architecture, an important satirical work from Chris Daemmrich,

Get busy reading. Don’t know where to start? Here are five essential books to read fthat can help make cities more inclusive.

Do you have more ideas of your own that you’d love to share with us? Reach out to us on Facebook or contact us through our website.

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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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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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