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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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How to Make Gravy…

Editor’s Note: This is the launch of a new weekly column by SDAF President Pauly De Bartolo. His musings will be shared in this space every Wednesday. Behind the title “How to Make Gravy” is the idea that shaping a non-profit is much like making a good dish. It takes …

Editor’s Note: This is the launch of a new weekly column by SDAF President Pauly De Bartolo. His musings will be shared in this space every Wednesday. Behind the title “How to Make Gravy” is the idea that shaping a non-profit is much like making a good dish. It takes all kinds of ingredients to make it a success. “How to Make Gravy” is also the name of a classic Australian song that connects Pauly to his Aussie roots. So there’s that.

 

Membership engagement — the cornerstone of all thriving non-profit organizations. Supporters, participants, event-goers, fans; it’s what keeps an organization moving forward, especially during challenging times like the second year (can you believe it?) of a global pandemic.

 

Through the leadership of our Membership Committee chair, the effervescent Michelle Harrison-McAllister, we are focusing on growing our membership in 2021 with a diverse range of activities and events to engage and inspire all San Diegans to connect with each other and our built environment.

 

From virtual workshops, exclusive building tours with some of our region’s prominent architects and developers, spotlights on understanding spatial relationships and a ‘Meet the Board’ event (which I really hope will actually be in person!), we are going to be focused on growing our membership this year in a big and exciting way.

 

We are also currently working through a proposal to make joining SDAF as a member much simpler — with a specific focus toward a ‘Next Generation’ membership level. Our BEEP programming is focusing on connecting and inspiring the next generation of designers, thought-leaders & built environment advocates of all ages especially Middle and High Schoolers to College students. We will soon be outlining the access for free membership to all students with an interest in architecture, landscape, engineering, arts & sculpture!

 

All very exciting stuff ahead and I am so proud to be back involved and collaborating with our passionate team to make this year super fun and successful!

 

Cheers, Pauly.

 

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The Couple That’s Shaping San Marcos

By Beth Geraci For husband and wife architectural team Taal Safdie and Ricardo Rabines — the duo behind Safdie Rabines Architects — architecture is all about creating inspiring places for people to spend their time. Since its founding in 1993, Mission Hills-based Safdie Rabines has specialized in site-specific, humanistic, socially …

By Beth Geraci

For husband and wife architectural team Taal Safdie and Ricardo Rabines — the duo behind Safdie Rabines Architects — architecture is all about creating inspiring places for people to spend their time.

Since its founding in 1993, Mission Hills-based Safdie Rabines has specialized in site-specific, humanistic, socially responsible architecture and urban planning. It’s no wonder, then, that the firm chose to become a 2021 sponsor of Open House San Diego, whose architectural values are in alignment with the firm’s own mission.

Ricardo Rabines

“Our goal is to create good places, beautiful places, for people to enjoy,” says firm cofounder and architect Ricardo Rabines, a native of Peru. “To us, ‘good places’ mean spaces that inspire and that are comfortable and inviting. In all we do, we strive to create an optimal user experience. That’s the bottom line for us.”

That commitment is evident in all of Safdie Rabines’ work, whether it’s the recently completed National City Aquatic Center, the 3,000-capacity amphitheater being built at UCSD, or East Village Park, which Safdie Rabines breaks ground on in March. Their dedication to their craft makes them a great fit for Open House, a program that seeks to elevate architecture in the eyes of San Diegans.

An Open Celebration of High Quality Design

Safdie Rabines Architects sponsored Open House in 2021 because it believes in the program’s mission to celebrate and promote notable architecture.

Taal Safdie

“Architecture can create a sense of community, make people feel welcome or unwelcome, comfortable or uncomfortable,” says Taal Safdie, who cofounded the firm with Ricardo and is involved in the design and management of every project in the office. “Architecture can invite people into a space or make them want to disengage from it completely,” she says. “The impacts of design are something you feel. By exposing the public to some of San Diego’s most unique spaces, Open House makes San Diegans keenly aware of their designed environment.”

North City Is Becoming an Urban Destination

In 2021, Open House San Diego is turning its focus to San Diego’s emerging neighborhoods, including areas in North County. Safdie Rabines Architects is currently and deeply immersed in the master planning of San Marcos’ new downtown, known as North City.

Situated on 200 acres across from California State University San Marcos, North City is a mixed-use community that was approved 12 years ago through the vision and leadership of Gary Levitt, President of Sea Breeze Properties. “As it unfolds, a high-density urban node is rising up in San Marcos, marking a crucial transformation for a city that has never been home to a central downtown,” Ricardo says.

North City’s master plan creates an urban center for the entire inland North County San Diego. It provides a variety of housing and employment opportunities to create a true live/work employment, along with a variety of restaurant, entertainment and retail options in a pedestrian-oriented environment. North City neighbors both the CSUSM Campus and Kaiser Permanente’s newly under construction hospital, while benefiting from mass transit options, including rail.

Safdie Rabines has completed several student housing projects, market rate mixed-use housing and most recently, an academic and administration building for the university. Coming up next, the North City and Safdie Rabines teams are breaking ground on a new student housing project this spring, with plans underway for a substantial mixed-use housing project. When completed, the market-rate complex will feature about 450 housing units, offices, and restaurants and retail at street level.

“San Marcos has always been a car-oriented place with highways cutting through it,” Ricardo explains. “It feels much more suburban than urban. While San Marcos has been home to the fast-growing university, for a long time it didn’t have a commercial area where students could go. The mixed-use, North City development we’re currently engaged in is making the area denser, more walkable, and more community focused. And with a new public transit stop, the North City area is also becoming more accessible.”

Design + Community Creates Positive Results

With Open House’s 2021 theme “Design + Community,” it seems all the more fitting that Safdie Rabines Architects is sponsoring the program.

“Community work is priority number one for us, so we love that OH’s central theme aligns with our own values,” Taal says. “Design matters, but if a project is publicly funded, it should be beautifully done and serve the public in the best possible way.”

If Taal and Ricardo are strong believers in that principle, so is Open House San Diego. Like exceptional design itself, Ricardo says, Open House makes people aware of their surroundings and inspires them to see things differently.

The couple hopes that when San Diegans visit San Marcos during Open House San Diego the week of March 5-12, they’ll feel the civic pride that is being reborn there after so many years.

“The heart of a community is beginning to beat in North City right now, and that’s exciting,” Taal says. “A vibrant destination is taking shape, one with more density, great outdoor spaces, and a balance of educational life and entertainment. We encourage people to visit and see it for themselves.”

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A Grand Sendoff for a Grand Dame

By Beth Geraci You’d be hard pressed to find someone as committed to the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF) as outgoing SDAF President Margit Whitlock, AIA.  After three years at the helm, Margit is stepping down as president to let Pauly De Bartolo fill her shoes. And she’s doing it …

By Beth Geraci

You’d be hard pressed to find someone as committed to the San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF) as outgoing SDAF President Margit Whitlock, AIA.  After three years at the helm, Margit is stepping down as president to let Pauly De Bartolo fill her shoes. And she’s doing it on the very same day that another president happens to be moving on (It’s purely coincidental, trust us.).

We’d be remiss if we did not take this opportunity to acknowledge Margit’s achievements over the past three years and honor the incredible presidential legacy she leaves behind. This is our way of saying thank you, Margit, for the exceptional dedication and passion you brought to the role as president and to San Diego’s built environment as a whole.

Margit has served on the SDAF Board of Directors since 2012. In every moment of the journey, she has given of herself. She has done so while running her own business, Architectural Concepts, Inc.; being a single mom to her daughter and son; and perpetually showing up to support causes she cares about (AIASD awards, career days, and NewSchool of Architecture & Design among them).

Margit and her son at Orchids & Onions

“At SDAF, Margit will be remembered for her incredible ability to multitask and for managing a flow of emails that would drown the average person,” says outgoing SDAF Vice President Kathy Breedlove in jest. “Margit took her responsibilities as president of the organization very seriously. She cares about SDAF like it’s a member of her own family, because in her eyes, it is.”

Margit also will be remembered for her bottomless well of creativity — the driving force behind so many innovative fundraising tactics and SDAF events. And for her tenacity, which Margit herself notes as her calling card.

“Looking where I am and the schedule I’m leaving behind, I can’t help but ponder that it’s all gotten accomplished with fortitude, a sense of keeping on, pushing forward and making things happen,” she says.

Along with her tenacity, at SDAF Margit may have left her biggest mark on the Context program, an annual SDAF forum aimed at preserving excellence in the built environment. During her tenure, Margit organized some of the program’s biggest events, including two architectural trips South of the Border that stand among SDAF’s most memorable.

Inspired by her parents’ example, Margit long has gravitated toward volunteerism, and she has kept the tradition alive not only on behalf of SDAF, but also for the good of the American Institute of Architects (AIASD), Habitat for Humanity, and National Executive Women in Hospitality (NEWH) — all places Margit has served as a board member. Twenty years of board experience has taught her about codes and regulations, running a meeting, and most of all, people.

As she steps away from the demands of SDAF President for the first time in three years, Margit looks ahead to focusing on her business, supporting SDAF “in the background,” and God forbid, having more down time.

“It’s been a great run,” Margit says. “I’m looking forward to new energy, new ideas and a new generation of leadership. I have no regrets.”

Photos courtesy Margit Whitlock

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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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