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How to make gravy, Ep. 6

Creative ideas come in two forms; they’re either completely & totally original, inventive if you will, or they’re born from inspiration be it from an experience, a memory, a conversation, an image, etc. Like most Designers / Architects / Creatives, my own creative process walks a thin line between the …

Creative ideas come in two forms; they’re either completely & totally original, inventive if you will, or they’re born from inspiration be it from an experience, a memory, a conversation, an image, etc. Like most Designers / Architects / Creatives, my own creative process walks a thin line between the two. Designing within the built environment you want to bring something new or unexpected to every design challenge and at the same time to be sensitive to the programmatic brief, the location, context, climate, community, etc.

An example of my process is illustrated in the simple graphic below, let me explain – on the left is a photo I took of an office building in Shanghai, China in 2003. After graduating from the University of New South Wales with my Bachelor of Architecture in tow, (which was the only school in Sydney at the time with an Architectural program that was internationally recognized, allowing me to transfer to the US without any credential challenges, not a coincidence I assure you) I was hired at MPI Architects in Sydney and after three short months I was awarded (along with three others) a one-week study trip to Shanghai. We toured a lot of culturally significant places, their City’s version of a Development Services Department, the Jin Mao tower by SOM & the Oriental Pearl Tower which was the tallest tower in China at the time. Throughout the week we took hundreds of photos of buildings while searching out location dive bars & back-alley markets.

Two years later I was partnered with one of my favorite people of all time, a close friend and mentor, Italian Architect Paolo Salotto, now a partner at MPI Architects, to design a new multi-family tower development in San Diego. At the time neither Paolo or I had visited San Diego, but we were told two things – it’s got a gorgeous bay-front and it has the best climate in the world – make sure the design has an enormous amount of balcony spaces for out-door living. The final piece of direction was that we had 36-hrs to design the concept as our Principal of the firm was travelling and needed to take our presentation with him. So, for 36hrs straight Paolo & I sat across the table from each other swapping ideas, searching for inspiration for this new tower concept we had been tasked to design, and I remembered this office tower in Shanghai that had a soft wave-like form. The elegance of the overlapping wavy lines stayed with me and I presented to Paolo the idea of having an expressive modernist tower concept that used wavy balconies to create large (300sf) balconies for every unit. An idea that embraced the link to San Diego’s bayfront while celebrating the climate that I’ve since come to know & love for the last 16 years.

Throughout my Shanghai trip I was simply photographing as much as I could, soaking in the experience and just looking. No real reason, I wasn’t specifically thinking about future projects, I was just documenting a new place, new experiences and new buildings, to me anyway. But there it was, two years later an idea that became the very essence of our first design in San Diego which was approved later that year (2005) but unfortunately never built as you know, the recession rocked out our entire industry shortly after.

Since Covid hit the ability to travel (my preferred process for idea gathering) has been limited, but the curiosity for inspiration and ideas doesn’t just stop. So, like so much else these days the search has gone virtual. I spend at least 15-30mins a day looking through some really inspiring websites for new projects, ideas, inspiration & creativity. Anything to bring a different view on a design challenge. I realize as I type this that I am (again) waffling off longer than is necessary & you’re probably thinking this is for the industry folks, but here is the connection – while SDAF is layered with industry folks, volunteers committed to our programming, our mission is to inspire YOU, San Diegans, the general public, to explore & be inspired by our region, it’s built environment, but also its natural environment. The more we learn, the better we know, so in this week’s blog I want to pitch two tasks that will, safe & virtually, broaden your connection to our region and inspire you to value design in every aspect.

Firstly, starting this week, SDAF proudly commences our annual OH! San Diego program, joining a world-wide community of 45 cities around the globe that are dedicated to educating and engaging the public about the best in urban design and architecture, and the critical challenges facing our cities. Simply visit our website to get a complete rundown of the many online panel discussions, virtual BEEP ‘Kid-sketch’ sessions, virtual tours and even a community Bike Tour through Barrio Logan. This year we highlight seven wonderful communities across the county and invite you to participate in a photo contest.

Secondly, I encourage you to take a few minutes each week to visit the following sites for your own inspiration. Ideas from every creative corner of the globe all available while we continue to be relatively stuck at home while we ride this thing out. Enjoy.

Archdaily – Broadcasting Architecture Worldwide: Architecture news, competitions and projects updated every hour for the architecture professional

Dezeen – The world’s most influential architecture, interiors and design magazine.

Treehugger – Green design & living news covering technology, architecture, transportation and more.

The Design Files – Australia’s most popular design blog.

Design Addicts Platform – Another great Australian blog. What? I’m an Aussie, these are my peep’s.

Yellowtrace – Last Australian blog, I swear.

Life of an Architect – Bob Borson is a straight up legend.

The Sartorialist – Global (street) fashion photography.

Sub note:
But like many I tend to avoid the start of the design process – the reason for looking through all these websites is merely another distraction technique before starting any design, avoidance at its finest. In fact, one of the biggest names in the industry, Frank Gehry, in Sydney Pollack’s documentary ‘Sketches of Frank Gehry‘ shares the same sentiment. One of the most prolific Architects of all time (I know, amongst industry folks I just started a rigorous debate on Gehry’s contributions but as I say to all young designers aspiring to make their way in our industry – when you have accomplished 2% of what Gehry has, then you can begin to think about your criticisms of his work) at least of the last 30+yrs still avoids starting his creative process. The void of not yet having an idea for a project, a starting point. Nothing but a pen and blank trace paper. He does the same. Cleans his desk, makes some calls, is everything in order, anything to avoid drawing that first line. So you go right ahead and surf that web, visit our OH! San Diego happenings, check out those websites, it’s all there to get you inspired to get your creative on.

Thank YOU’s:
I can’t thank enough our team of volunteers as well as all of our panel guests, program sponsors & SDAF partners for their generous and AMAZING contributions to this years OH! San Diego program. None of this happens without all of you!

 

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Insider’s Guide to OH! San Diego 2021

With OH! San Diego 2021 upon us, what better way to celebrate this year’s showcase than through the eyes of those who know it best — the program’s co-chairs Kathy Breedlove and Anne Militante. Here’s a look at some of the most exciting offerings of OH! San Diego 2021, as …

With OH! San Diego 2021 upon us, what better way to celebrate this year’s showcase than through the eyes of those who know it best — the program’s co-chairs Kathy Breedlove and Anne Militante. Here’s a look at some of the most exciting offerings of OH! San Diego 2021, as told by Kathy and Anne. We hope you enjoy reading about them  — and seeing them in person March 5-12!

Kathy’s Picks

Curating the 2021 OH! program has been an amazing experience and I came away from it so inspired by all the ways that design is making a difference in our communities. It’s so hard to choose just a few of these experiences to share . . . . but here are my top picks:

Photo by Linda Pennington

Azalea Park Water Conservation Garden and Poplar Street Art Walk/City Heights. I lived in Kensington for eight years, City Heights was right next door, and I never knew this hidden gem of a neighborhood existed until I stumbled across it while researching potential sites for OH!  I reached out to local artist Vicki Leon and she invited me on a guided tour.

Late afternoon on a beautiful San Diego day, we took a leisurely (and masked) walk with our dogs along Poplar Street and she told me of the grassroots efforts of a dedicated group of community members over several years to beautify their neighborhood through art. Visit during OH! and experience this artsy community vibe for yourself. While you’re there, get a birds-eye view of another OH! site, the Ocean Discovery Institute, from the Manzanita Gathering Place overlook.

Image credit: City Farmers Nursery

City Farmers Nursery and Nates Garden Grill/City Heights. Not a new discovery, but a longtime personal favorite. Located not far from Azalea Park is City Farmers Nursery and Nates Garden Grill. If you have kids, you don’t want to miss this one. Started by “Farmer Bill” Tall when he was just out of high school, his children now carry on the traditions. Visiting City Farmers feels like a walk through an (urban) family farm – and when you leave, you feel like part of the family.  Say hi to the goats, Olive and Pickle, and don’t miss the homemade biscuits at Nate’s Garden Grill.

Image credit: Elementary Institute of Science

Elementary Institute of Science/Southeastern San Diego. Okay, so this one is kind of a tie between Elementary Institute of Science and Access Youth Academy. Both offer incredibly inspirational programs for youth, and both are in Southeastern San Diego, essentially across the street from each other. EIS gets the nod because, well, it looks like a magic castle. In the words of Executive Director Jim Stone:

While the exterior design of the building is evocative of science, the true value of the building is its ability to inspire kids to believe in their abilities and capabilities. When children are inside the facility, the setting speaks to them and conveys that they are valued and welcome in the world of science, technology, engineering, and math.

Anne’s Picks

Planning OH! 2021 has been such a rewarding experience. I’ve learned so much about our city, and I’m especially excited to be sharing two communities that are close to my heart — my hometown, National City, and my home for the last (almost) 20 years, Chula Vista. While it’s difficult to narrow it down to just a few, here are my top three picks for this year:

Image credit: Anne Militante

Third Avenue Walking Tour, Chula Vista

Having served as a main hub for the city since the early 1900s, Chula Vista’s Third Avenue has long been home to many of the area’s local businesses. Lining its sidewalks were shoe stores, repair shops, bakeries and clothing stores, even a movie theater. As times changed, people began to spend more time shopping nearby malls and less time at Third Avenue. For a night out, people would often leave Chula Vista and drive elsewhere.

As the needs and interests of the community shifted, movement and prosperity on Third Avenue slowed considerably and several businesses moved out or closed entirely. But several back, vacant storefronts began to be replaced by event halls; people held quinceneras, receptions, and other celebrations. Soon Friday nights on Third Avenue turned into a popular trend. Crowds spilled onto the sidewalks and food trucks began to line the streets. It wasn’t long before breweries and tasting rooms arrived to liven up the scene.

Change that occurs organically often leads to the most authentic result; it is borne out of a response to the wants and needs of a community and tunes itself accordingly. In the case of Third Avenue, this change has led to a unique and thriving downtown, a pleasant place to stroll in the daytime and a weekend scene that rivals any main street in San Diego.

Image credit: Brady Architectural Photography

Sheldon’s Café

My love for history, adaptive reuse, and delicious coffee, leads to my second pick, Sheldon’s Café. While it’s now home to the aforementioned coffee house, the building actually began life as one of the first gas stations in La Mesa. It was built in the 1920s, a decade of changes in industry, technology and society. It served its patrons who were looking to fuel up their motor vehicles.

One hundred years later, we find ourselves once again in a time of change. Now Sheldon’s is a place for us to fuel our bodies and maybe slow down for a little while. Grab a coffee, find a seat on the patio, and watch the world go by.

Image credit: Brady Architectural Photography

Paradise Creek Educational Park

For many years this natural creek, which runs through National City into the San Diego Bay, was overlooked and underappreciated. The water had been dredged and the result was a muddy, inaccessible area which became a magnet for trash and a breeding ground for invasive plants.

However, beneath the muck lurked the primeval essence of the earth and it would take the spirit and efforts of a local schoolteacher to find it. In the 1990s, Kimball Elementary School’s Margaret Godshalk began to teach her students about saltwater marshes. She brought the kids outside the school see it firsthand. After learning about the creek’s past and its importance to both the ecosystem and the community, her students were inspired to clean up the area and restore the creek. This led to the founding of Paradise Creek Educational Park in 1999.

Since that time, the creek bed has been returned to its natural state by the removal of invasive plant species and the reintroduction of native drought- and saltwater-tolerant plants such as grasses and shrubs. It is now home to wildlife including egrets and other birds who live along the creek and thrive on the food source it provides. Next to the creek lies a new park with paths and nature-viewing opportunities as well as picnic areas for families to come take some time off and enjoy themselves in the midst of this revitalized destination.

This park and the community’s preservation efforts exist as an example of how, with care, we can preserve natural habitats while simultaneously creating recreational spaces for people to relax, exercise, and enjoy the peace and serenity that exists for those willing to seek and find it.

We hope that you find something new to discover about Design + Community during this year’s OH!, and that you are as inspired by your experience as we were in crafting the event. We would love to hear from you!  Contact us:  openhouse@sdarchitecture.org

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Looking at OH! San Diego Through the Lens of an Architectural Photographer

As OH! San Diego 2021 approaches, we caught up with Jim Brady, the man behind Brady Architectural Photography and a longtime SDAF volunteer. This year, Brady has spearheaded photography for OH! San Diego 2021, and he’s the 2021 OH! photography sponsor. In our interview with him, Brady talks about why …

As OH! San Diego 2021 approaches, we caught up with Jim Brady, the man behind Brady Architectural Photography and a longtime SDAF volunteer. This year, Brady has spearheaded photography for OH! San Diego 2021, and he’s the 2021 OH! photography sponsor. In our interview with him, Brady talks about why he volunteers, some of his favorite OH! 2021 sites, and what makes for a great architectural shot.

You keep coming back to donate your time and talent to SDAF programs. Tell us why giving back is important to you.

Photo courtesy of Brady Architectural Photography

Jim Brady: When I was growing up in North Carolina, both of my parents volunteered for different causes, so I followed their example. I’ve always volunteered for things. Sometimes it’s photography-related, sometimes it’s not. When it’s photography-related , it makes sense. I have a skill that organizations don’t necessarily have funding for, but they need it nonetheless. I work in the architecture field and I like SDAF’s mission of trying to get architecture out to people, encouraging excellence in the built environment. Increasing people’s awareness of the built environment is a worthwhile goal, and it’s one I’m happy to play an active part in.

This year’s OH! San Diego is very different from prior years. Did photographing this year’s sites pose unique challenges?

JB: I haven’t felt its impact in many ways. Some places I haven’t been able to enter to shoot interior photos. And other places would be nice to shoot with people in them, though they’re empty right now. But for the most part, the adjustments have been minor. I love the way that the unique challenges we’re facing and the focus on diversity have caused OH! San Diego to be different this year.

Chula Vista Public Library South. Photo by Brady Architectural Photography.

What excites you about OH! San Diego 2021?

JB:It will be great for people to see projects outside of their own neighborhoods. There are so many wonderful places all around San Diego County. The South Branch of the Chula Vista Library is a magnificent building, and I think most people would be amazed to run across a building like that. It’s an important building for Chula Vista, an impactful community center that brings the community together and provides a setting for so many things. It’s so much more than a library.  It also has wonderful interiors that bring to life unique shapes and light patterns. It’s definitely worth seeing.

What did you discover about San Diego that you didn’t know before photographing the 2021 OH! sites?

MLK Way in Southeastern San Diego. Photo by Jim Brady

JB: Everybody knows there are wonderful hidden gems that we don’t know about, and in 2021, OH! San Diego encourages us to get out and see them. Martin Luther King Way in Southeastern San Diego is a one-block road with no homes. It’s worth going to look at. On both sides of the street is information about civil rights activists such as Rosa Parks, John Lewis and Cesar Chavez. They all did some really wonderful work, and this block is all about showcasing and celebrating them. It’s very inspiring.

Palomar College has a wonderful gymnasium  with a geodesic dome roof, and Cal State San Marcos has this collection of buildings built around a walkway, along with open grassy areas and a collection of native plants. All of them are places people wouldn’t necessarily run across on their own. In the past, one of the things I loved about OH! was gaining access to a building I had been curious about but hadn’t been able to enter. This year, it’s about this far flung exploration and these little gems tucked away in neighborhoods that you wouldn’t normally encounter.

Palomar Dome on the campus of Palomar College in San Marcos. Photo by Brady Architectural Photography

I recommend even if you can’t go see them all, somehow bookmark the participating sites so you can keep them in mind and get out and see them when you’re in a certain neighborhood later on.

What’s one thing people should know about how to take good architectural photos?

JB:  Don’t just get out, snap a picture and walk away. Walk around and look at the building in a big way. Get closer. Look at it in a medium way, then again up close. Try to identify fun compositions that you can extract from a larger facade. There will be a group of elements that come together in an interesting way, and I encourage people to try to spot them. The number one thing is, let yourself explore and don’t settle for the easy shot.

Jim will be sharing more of his top tips for architectural photography with the OH! audience. Follow us on Instagram to see these video tutorials as they are released.
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How to make gravy, Ep. 5

Growing up in Australia I was always fascinated by the geography of the United States. In Australia we have only a handful of major cities all of which are 12+ hours drive apart so you tend to fly between cities more-so than drive. So when I was invited to relocate …

Growing up in Australia I was always fascinated by the geography of the United States. In Australia we have only a handful of major cities all of which are 12+ hours drive apart so you tend to fly between cities more-so than drive. So when I was invited to relocate to San Diego in 2005 (I literally had no idea where San Diego was when I was asked…I had to ‘Yahoo’ search it back in the day), I decided that I was going to road-trip as much as possible in an effort to explore the smaller towns along great highway drives that I had only seen in the movies.

15+ years later I can honestly say that I could drive pretty much the entirety of California blind-folded having driven almost every freeway & old-Highway stretch across this beautiful state. This past week was another one of those trips as I drove from Sacramento down to San Diego, out to the Coachella Valley and back to Sacramento on a different route. Over the course of these 4 days I experienced various climates including a chilly Sacramento morning, gorgeous San Diego days and really intense wind-gusts in Palm Springs & Desert Hot Springs which makes absolute sense given that there are 4,000+ wind turbines harnessing wind energy technologies in that region.

Driving along Interstate 5 you see environmental & climate change signs pleading for governmental assistance for our agricultural communities, in addition to the ever-so-pungent cattle stations that no matter how much you close up the car still seem to penetrate the cabin – an inescapable reminder of the effect of the concentrated methane gases wafting up into the atmosphere. I thought about all of this along my drive while listening to the reporting of the big-freeze happening in Texas and thinking about the increasing number of environmental events around the country and how our collective contributions, both small and large, are impacting our region and our future. All of it overwhelming and exhausting to think about if I’m being honest.

As my drive last week continued I switched my thinking over to SDAF, specifically the upcoming OH! San Diego program and the enormous effort to coordinate the event that spans north, south & east counties of San Diego. The idea that during a second year of Covid, that dozens of volunteers would work for months to coordinate a virtual program for the public to connect with some of our region’s most exciting communities is so fantastic and I’m so grateful for the generosity of our team, to our highlighted communities, and the sponsors & partners that have committed both resources & funds to make it happen again this year. The connection here being that my own sense of adventure for traveling across California relates to the very spirit of the OH! San Diego program – it’s a free opportunity to venture out (or virtually stay in) and experience a new part of our region.

I’m not a great writer by any means, I much prefer sketching to writing, but I lay out all of this in my own rambling kind of way in an effort, at least in my own head, to be reminded of the grandeur of the challenges we face globally but with the optimism that together in our own communities we can make a difference through participation & education.

So, to wrap up this week’s post I wanted to share a trailer for a documentary called ‘Kiss the Ground’ that popped up in my feed upon my return to Sacramento. It’s available on Netflix and well worth a watch. Oh, and its narrated by Woody Harrelson who can do no wrong, so there’s that.

Learn more about the movie and ways to view it here: https://kissthegroundmovie.com/

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3iknWWKZOUs&feature=emb_logo

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How to make gravy, Ep. 4

SDAF is held together by an amazing team of volunteers, supported by just a few part-time staff members. The majority of our programs are organized & curated over many months’ worth of late night collaborative sessions, long email chains, and so on. Every now and then, in the mayhem of …

SDAF is held together by an amazing team of volunteers, supported by just a few part-time staff members. The majority of our programs are organized & curated over many months’ worth of late night collaborative sessions, long email chains, and so on. Every now and then, in the mayhem of it all, we make the odd mistake and I’ll be the first to put my hand up and admit it, and then go about making it right.

During the chaos of COVID-19 & our 2020 Orchids & Onions program (which otherwise was a wonderful success & much kudos to the whole team who put that on!), we forgot to thank one of our valued annual partners, which included us leaving off their logo as well as verbal recognition which all other partners received. Not only was that annual partner, The Lighting Element, a long-time partner of SDAF, it is also the company of SDAF’s Treasurer, Maddy Kent MacElwee.

Maddy has been with SDAF for several years as a volunteer, Director and Treasurer and I wanted to use this week’s blog post to share some love for Maddy & the team at The Lighting Element for being part of SDAF and for standing with us as we all do our very best.

So this week I tasked a former SDAF volunteer & Designer at DBRDS, Mikaela Rosvall with interviewing Maddy to find out what makes her tick & what The Lighting Element is up to. Here is that interview…

 

(MR): Why lighting? What attracted you to the lighting industry?

 

(MM): That’s a good question. I actually stumbled into it. I was a single Mom—I had my daughter when I was seventeen—and I had been working restaurant jobs. I went to a job placement agency and they put me in the position of helping with the warehouse and doing office assistant work for a lighting agency in Seattle when I lived up there. Then I just worked my way up in that company and got promoted to inside sales and then I moved to San Diego, back home—I’m from here…Once you get into it, that’s what you start to know. Then I learned a lot about lighting; I went into quotations and then I went into specification sales. I’ve just been doing it since I was a wee lass. I actually didn’t go to college. Since I was a single Mom, I just worked my way up in the industry.

 

(MR): When you first began your career in lighting in 1990, did you envision that you would one day be the CEO of your own company? Was this a career goal of yours?

 

(MM): No. It’s funny because when I was working in the restaurant industry and I wanted to get an office position—when I would see people in office positions, even just warehouse managers—I thought “I’m smarter than these people, and I know I can do this and that if I just get a chance to show myself…not to belittle other people…but I’m just as smart and I can do that”. I did not picture myself, I thought maybe outside sales, but I never thought that I would be a CEO. I always knew that I would make my own money and I always knew I would be successful. I always thought “I’m not going to depend on a man for my money.” I always pictured myself at this age, making my own money and doing really well. I just knew that I would, but I just never saw myself as being CEO of my own lighting company.

 

(MR): What challenges do you face as a woman and as a CEO in this industry (if any)?

 

(MM): Yes. I do face challenges. It is a male dominated industry and I am more on the construction side. I have faced a lot of sexism. When I was an inside sales person and quotes manager I wrote a letter to one of my managers explaining and detailing all the things I had done, how I had taken projects and made them more profitable, and the manager in my one-on-one meeting said “Nice letter your husband wrote for you”. So that is one example, but just in general as CEO there are things that I face that a man would never face. Putting my foot down and being assertive, I’m often told that I’m flying off the handle—when I’m not, I’m just being a strong CEO.

I’ve been called a bulldog, I’ve had my face on dart boards and I’ve put up with a lot of “man-club” stuff that has been difficult, but I believe that if you just keep your head down and move forward and take the high road that eventually that will be nonsense. A couple years after I started the Lighting Element, my husband joined the company. He was working in LA as a salesman and now I have him deal with all of the contractors and distributors. Why do I need to fight that fight if they want to hear it from a man, I don’t need to fight it, he [my husband] can just…Sometimes we strategize on when he calls somebody and when I call somebody.

Even though I would love to change the world and would love to change that, you know…One thing that I do with companies that we represent is that when they are speaking about a project, and they say things like “so, when the contractor…”, “he does this” and “he does that”, “mister owner does this” and “mister this does that” and always referring to the male gender. Now that I’m CEO, I say “…are there any women contractors?”, “If there is a woman, could they install it?” I encourage people to use the term “folks” and “they” instead of “he” and “she” and “mister owner” and “mister engineer” because we can’t leave fifty percent of the population out, you know.    

(MR): What would you say is the most important thing to think about when designing with and specifying lighting?

 

(MM): I would say the most important thing is how the lighting makes everything else look. Unless you’re looking for a decorative fixture that is a piece that you’re going to look at, I think the lighting is often more important when you don’t see the lighting and you just notice how great everything else looks. I also think it’s important to layer lighting: If everything is lit with the same amount of illumination, that’s a target, or a 7/11. If you layer the lighting where you have bright spots and dark spots and more contrast, it looks much richer—Imagine a landscape where the palm trees are brightly lit and there’s a lot more varied levels of illumination—I think that is very important. My biggest thing is that you don’t see where the lighting is coming from, you just see the impact that it makes.

…Just putting the lighting in the right place is important…what is the surface? You would never want to graze a drywall wall, because if the drywall is not perfect you would see every imperfection. So what kind of surface are you lighting, and then spacing [the lighting] properly is important in lighting design.

(MR): What advice would you give young professionals who are considering a career in lighting consultation and lighting design?

 

(MM): I would say to study people who have won awards for their work. To study placement and product. I would also say to focus on the budget—often when people think of lighting designers they think that the project is going to be more expensive. They don’t think of the amazing value that can be added [to a project] just by moving a light fixture to the right spot. There are really amazing products that are affordable… Just focusing on budget and using your knowledge of where to place lights and optics—the difference between a spot optic and a wash and where to put what can make an enormous difference. Not just focusing on the highest end product always and not forgetting about the lower end product that might be very well performing. AND, take as many factory tours as you can, because seeing how it’s built, seeing the manufacturer and what their process is, is a really great way to learn. Most factories will do free factory tours and you’ll get to go on fun trips too.

(MR): What is your favorite project in San Diego that you and your team at The Lighting Element worked on? What about that project inspires you and what did you take away from it?

 

(MM): We were invited to look at the Immaculata Church at USD. It’s a big Catholic church, and it was really poorly lit. It is BEAUTIFUL. The architecture is gorgeous. I worked with Ron Neal Lighting Design. This is a perfect example of what I was talking about where you don’t see the light fixtures at all, you just see the space. What went from a dim, dark, vast space is now unbelievable. One of the cool tricks [Ron Neal] did was to install a theatrical light fixture with a stained glass gobo on it. So it made it look like the cross at the back of the church always had light shining through a stained glass window on it. It was always lit as if God shone a light through the stained glass window at the perfect spot. That was something Ron came up with on his own and I thought that is brilliant, just amazing. So that’s probably one of my favorite projects. [Ron] actually won a national award for lighting design for that.

The brand that we used for that is Color Kinetics…We pretty much used all white lighting in that project. Just hiding the lights, finding the right size to hide everything, trying to integrate it into existing voltages…—we were doing a retrofit and had to use the wiring that was there. That taught me a lot. We’ve had some really fun projects like the convention center sails that are all lit and colored now…

(MR): How did you get involved with SDAF and what is your view on the importance of good design in the built environment?

 

(MM): Margit, the former president [of SDAF], invited me to join back in 2016 and I was thrilled to be part of it because I had moved to San Diego in 77’ when I was 7 years old—so I’m kind of a native and I’ve been here a long time—back when I was a kid, my parents did puppet shows at the Puppet Theater in Balboa Park. There’s just so much history in San Diego. I really love the focus on San Diego and all of the little neighborhoods and the impact that good architecture brings to the community and the awareness that SDAF brings to the public about the built environment. Because it is our city.

And then Orchids and Onions is just fun. Having that event [and it] being very well respected in San Diego, so being part of that—and as a sales person—being closer to architects is beneficial for my business and building relationships, and as an owner of the company now I believe that your reputation is the most important thing and keeping your word. So building those strong relationships is really important. I love what SDAF does to promote awareness of the built environment in San Diego.

(MR): What inspires you on a day-to-day basis?

 

(MM): …I always get out of bed trying to have the best day. I’m very optimistic.  I push really hard to be the best that I can be every day. I believe that we’re here because everything we did up to [this point] got us here…

My employees—being a good advocate to my team, the people that work for me, mentoring, being kind, keeping your word. If people are struggling, trying to make an impact and help people. And my wonderful husband and my family.

 

Maddy’s words of wisdom:

I grew up very poor. I grew up without realizing that as a poor kid and as an intelligent poor kid that drove pretty hard…I’ve always had ADHD so I didn’t excel in school…My grades were a 3.2 in school but I was always in the honors classes. I didn’t think I could go to college. As I was helping my daughter apply for college and I realized how simple it actually was and how I could have got in and I wept for my youthful self that I didn’t even know I could do that. I just started volunteering for Just In Time Youth, which is a foster agency that helps kids that are aging out of foster care…I am hopeful by joining this organization that I can help make an impact on somebody that maybe didn’t think that they could go to college or pave the way for themselves…and that [they] can do it.

“Our biggest obstacle is our own self doubt.”

My sister used to say—my sister passed away—but she used to say:

If you have two choices to make and you’re struggling on which thing to choose. Remove the fear from both of them and imagine both of those choices without having any fear and then decide which you would do. Because usually the reason why you wouldn’t want to do something is because you’re afraid of something. If you can remove the fear from it, you will make the right choice.

Find out more about The Lighting Element here: https://thelightingelement.com/

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A Closer Look at Neighborhood Sponsor RICK Engineering

OH! San Diego’s Southeastern San Diego Neighborhood sponsor, RICK Engineering Company, has had a hand in projects that connect and enrich communities across the region, while also spearheading outreach programs to promote the diverse field of engineering to our local youth. Following is an interview between a local Woodbury University …

OH! San Diego’s Southeastern San Diego Neighborhood sponsor, RICK Engineering Company, has had a hand in projects that connect and enrich communities across the region, while also spearheading outreach programs to promote the diverse field of engineering to our local youth.

Following is an interview between a local Woodbury University San Diego architecture student, Kayleigh Cornejo, and civil engineer Edgar Camerino, principal and manager of Public Works, Transportation Division, for RICK Engineering. Listen in as they discuss the profession of civil engineering, Edgar’s journey into the field, and RICK Engineering’s community enrichment projects in Southeastern San Diego. Hear more from Cornejo and Camerino as they participate in Design Your Future, a panel discussion for youth, coming up on March 5 in partnership with the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation.

(KC): When and how did you first realize you wanted to be an engineer? What about the profession most drew your attention?

(EC): I’ve always wanted to be either an architect or an engineer. I’ve always loved looking at architecture; and I’ve always enjoyed seeing things get built. Since San Diego State University did not offer an architectural program, I chose the path of mechanical engineering and ultimately switched to civil engineering.

I actually had no clue about civil engineering when I applied to SDSU.  It wasn’t until I started taking some structural classes that I found out about the civil engineering field. Civil engineering was more related to architecture than mechanical engineering, so I changed majors and the rest is history.

(KC): What type of personality traits would you say make a good engineer?

(EC): Hard working, team player, great communicator, curious/inquisitive, detail oriented, passionate and enjoys engineering.

(KC):  As an architecture student, I always get told “You must be great at math!”—which sadly is not entirely true—but architecture is not so much a math game as engineering, I’m told. Are there any misconceptions about the profession you have come across, or information you would like to give to enlighten people about the beauties of engineering?

(EC): I agree.  You don’t necessarily need to be great at math.  I feel you more so need to have a desire or a passion to become an engineer (or whatever you want to do in life). One misconception is that engineers are nerds; although my daughters may beg to differ.  If you want to make a difference in society or in someone’s life, then engineering may be for you.  My field, civil engineering, is a profession that plans, designs, constructs, and operates society’s economic and social engine – which is the built environment- while protecting and restoring the natural environment.  Civil engineering branches out into various technical areas such as transportation, structural, environmental, geotechnical, and construction to name a few.  My area of expertise is transportation engineering where I oversee the design of highways, freeways and roadways.  One project I am currently working on (which is in the construction phase) is the West Mission Bay Drive Bridge Replacement Project for the City of San Diego. If you visit the site, you will notice some project renderings that were prepared by the Bridge Architect, Safdie Rabines Architects.

(KC): In laymen’s terms, what do you do?

(EC): I design roadways and transportation facilities (e.g. freeways, highways, streets, bike paths).

(KC): What is most rewarding to you about your work?

(EC): Designing the project, then watching the project get built.

(KC): Is it hard to work alongside architects and their sometimes unrealistic ideas? What issues, if any, arise most often between an architect’s design and an engineer’s path to bringing it to reality? 

(EC): It can sometimes pose a challenge if an architect is looking at a project more two-dimensionally. When engineers translate the designs to a three-dimensional site, and to specific site conditions, it can sometimes mean revising their site design. This can mean changing a building footprint or even a building relocation. But we have a great deal of experience in this area and we have developed strong collaborative relationships with our architectural partners.

(KC): Tell me about some of the projects RICK Engineering has been involved with in Southeastern San Diego.

(EC): Our firm has been involved with the following projects in the Southeastern community of San Diego:

  • Market Creek Plaza (Food-4-Less, creek improvements, Jacobs Center, KIPP Charter School, Wells Fargo, Starbucks, other retail)
  • Trolley Residential (aka Trolley Apartments – 52 units)
  • Northwest Village Creek (creek improvements, Walgreens entitlements)
  • Access Youth Academy
  • Euclid Retail
  • Market St. & Euclid St. Complete Streets (Preliminary Design Concepts)
  • Southwest Village (affordable housing 200+ units in preliminary stages)
  • SR-94 at Euclid Avenue Interchange Improvements
  • Various additional studies of the Jacobs properties in the area

(KC): How is RICK Engineering helping to inspire youth to consider a career in engineering?

(EC): RICK Engineering has worked with students from elementary school age through college. We educate students about civil engineering by attending outreach events such as Engineering Day at the Mall to hosting a shadow day event where high school and college students have the opportunity to talk and shadow an engineer for a day.  We are also actively involved with the following organizations, such as: the MESA Program (representing SDSU [including the Imperial Valley Campus], community colleges, and high schools), the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers (SHPE), the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE), and the Society of Women Engineers (SWE).

(KC): RICK Engineering has a vastly diverse portfolio: geographically, culturally, and programmatically. How has this come about?

(EC): It is inherent of the culture at RICK Engineering Company (RICK). We have been in the business for over 66 years and I’ve been with the company for over 25 years. It has always been our company’s philosophy to give back to the community; in any way possible. Most importantly, it is the outstanding people that we have at RICK that truly make giving back happen.

Edgar Camerino

Principal

Public Works: Transportation Division Manager

RICK Engineering

Kayleigh Cornejo

5th Year Architecture Student

Woodbury University, San Diego

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How to make gravy, Ep. 3

Stepping back into SDAF after a 3-yr absence has given me a chance to revisit the deep archive of SDAF programs and all of the amazing photography & videography that has been produced over the years. It’s really got me thinking about the hundreds of collaborators & volunteers who dedicate …

Stepping back into SDAF after a 3-yr absence has given me a chance to revisit the deep archive of SDAF programs and all of the amazing photography & videography that has been produced over the years. It’s really got me thinking about the hundreds of collaborators & volunteers who dedicate literally thousands of hours each year to curate thoughtful, exciting & impactful content in an effort to inspire San Diegans to discover more about the built environment & our region.
While going through the archives I came across one of the many short films that was directed by Jeff Durkin of Breadtruck Films, a film called ‘Legacy’ about one of San Diego’s most prominent Architects – Robert Mosher, you know (he’d hate me for introducing him like this, but…) the Architect who designed the Coronado Bridge & so much more.
So this week I simply want to share this video as it’s worth watching again and then sharing with someone who you think will want to learn about this great contributor to our region.
Pauly
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Urban Living Finds a Home in the Suburbs

By Beth Geraci A new development has emerged in Chula Vista, bringing urban living to a suburban landscape. Millenia stands out as a completely walkable urban village breathing new life into South County. The mixed-use hub signals a shift toward increased density and more walkability in the San Diego suburbs …

By Beth Geraci

A new development has emerged in Chula Vista, bringing urban living to a suburban landscape. Millenia stands out as a completely walkable urban village breathing new life into South County. The mixed-use hub signals a shift toward increased density and more walkability in the San Diego suburbs as well as an example of the importance of building thoughtful communities.

Across the Millenia

Billed as a “pedestrian paradise,” Millenia covers 80 walkable city blocks in the heart of Chula Vista. With its tree-lined avenues, every residential unit in Millenia will be within a three-minute walk of a park. Millenia will ultimately be home to six small parks boasting unique features such as climbing walls, interactive fountains, a community garden, and of course, dog parks. OH! San Diego presents an opportunity for the public to experience Millenia by taking a self-guided tour through the OH! San Diego app, available March 5-12. Guests can stroll through small parks and gathering areas as they explore the urban village, which even includes its own Orchid Award-winning fire station.

A Design for the Times

Designing this new community presented the opportunity to build in elements of placemaking and set up public spaces to serve as future catalysts for connecting families and neighbors. “We’re envisioning a destination neighborhood filled with breweries, tasting rooms, boutique restaurants, wellness studios, a makers’ plaza for craftsmen and artisans, a potential shared office space and community-services as well as additional office space,” says Guy Asaro, president and CEO of Meridian Development, Millenia’s developer. The design brings buildings to the street and creates pedestrian-oriented pathways, including  a pedestrian bridge, connecting residences with commercial, retail and recreation spaces.

The architecture of the buildings was also crucial to the development team at Meridian, and it’s a source of pride. Not only are the buildings beautiful, they engage people in very real ways, offering a framework upon which future generations can build memories. “So often we tend to get nostalgic about older neighborhoods and their charm,” Asaro says. “When people see Chula Vista, they can understand that we are creating the same environment today that they will be able to look back on in the future very nostalgically. And that’s worth celebrating.”

Community Commitment

Asaro has long been impressed by the fact that OH! San Diego celebrates notable design and brings it to the forefront. This year, the program adds to the mix a keen focus on community. Meridian’s commitment to community and thoughtful design makes Millenia the ideal Chula Vista neighborhood sponsor for OH! San Diego. “It took an extraordinary amount of placemaking to create the Millenia project in a suburban context, surrounded by master plan communities,” says Asaro. “It’s unique in that regard.”

For Meridian and their partners, the work has paid off: the result is a destination neighborhood that melds design directly with the community it serves, creating not just housing but a lasting and unique home for both present and future generations. “I think Millenia demonstrates that you can be successful with these kind projects if you’re creative in how you go about it,” Asaro says. “The opportunity is to create a city center unlike any other in California, which we believe we’ve done.”

Interested in Sponsorship?

OH! San Diego sponsors have the opportunity to showcase their civic pride and connect with a diverse audience of residents and visitors. To learn more about sponsorship, download our Sponsor Guide or contact openhouse@sdarchitecture.org.

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How to Make Gravy Ep. 2

I’d like to use this post to announce SDAF’s 2021 Vice President, the One and Only, the Man, the Myth, the Legend, my buddy, David McCullough of McCullough Landscape Architecture (MLASD). I’m a huge believer in building a team of people you enjoy working with and I make a point …

I’d like to use this post to announce SDAF’s 2021 Vice President, the One and Only, the Man, the Myth, the Legend, my buddy, David McCullough of McCullough Landscape Architecture (MLASD).

I’m a huge believer in building a team of people you enjoy working with and I make a point of collaborating with David whenever possible. We met in 2005 shortly after I relocated from Sydney to San Diego. He was already engaged on our first project and it was obvious from day one that we were going to have some fun together.

2021 marks David’s 11th year serving our community on the board of SDAF. He’s been the San Diego Chapter Chair of our Pecha Kucha Nights program from its inception and played a leadership role in the reinvention of the Orchids & Onions Awards program in 2006 after SDAF purchased the program from AIA’s San Diego Chapter. Those contributions right there would be enough to keep anyone busy, but not David.

In addition to being the Principal of MLASD and what David contributes to SDAF, he is also a board member of the City of San Diego’s Code Monitoring Team and La Mesa Design Review Board, Chair of the Historic Resource Board, and has also been both president and VP of the ASLA San Diego Chapter – talk about an overachiever. Gosh Dave, we get it…you get around guy.

This year holds a lot for SDAF. We’ve self-imposed some big tasks — from revamping our membership commitment, expanding our BEEP program and, wait for it, exploring an evolution of our Orchids & Onions program (there, I said it…it’s out there) of which David will play another leadership role.

Side story: Australians like to give people nicknames, it’s both a sign of affection and always meant for a laugh. If you have a nickname bestowed upon you by an Aussie, wear that like a badge of honor – that’s how it’s meant. For David, I have many, and he knows them all…there’s Davey-boy McCullough, The Hurricane, Run DMc and a few others.

Finally, when I floated the idea to Run DMc of returning to this role he immediately backed me suggesting he would step up to be the Vice-President. It was at that moment, albeit after several cocktails, that I knew my commitment was locked in. That’s the level of enthusiasm and passion The Hurricane brings. He wants to see good people doing good things and he is always going to back it up with his own support.

Cheers mate, here’s to a productive and fun 2021. Thanks for being my partner in crime in this effort!

Pauly

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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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