A Grand Vision to Showcase a Grand Orchid

It’s never easy to create a sense of place that puts people in the moment. The best artists just make it look easy. With their polished video production of 2020’s Malone Grand Orchid winner, the men behind Patzke + Doll have done just that — made it look easy.

Patzke + Doll, the latest business venture from local photographers Ian Patzke and Brian Doll, brings architecture to life in the most compelling of ways — through photography, video, light, and an incredible sense of artistry.

Ian Patzke

Patzke came to the Malone Grand Orchid video through his longtime relationship with SDAF. He sat on the Orchids & Onions 2020 committee and has worked with the foundation for years. And so it was that Patzke + Doll was hired to produce the video for this year’s Orchids & Onions gala.

In the video showcasing the Center for Novel Therapeutics in La Jolla, we see how the medium can bring architecture to life — and all that can be accomplished through the right collaboration. Storytelling, adept video production, and other artistic elements breathe life into the center, giving the viewer a greater understanding of the designers’ exceptional achievement.

Here’s a look at the making of the Grand Orchid video, the unique challenges it posed, and the two men who made it all come together.

Focusing on the Thoughtfulness of Design


Ian Patzke’s love of photography was born early. From the age of 6, he traveled the world with his family, becoming fully immersed in experiences and cultures different from anything he’d seen at home in Wisconsin. The son of a lawyer who dabbled in photography, Patzke learned young how to capture moments through the camera. It’s a skill he never relinquished.

“There’s a thoughtfulness that goes into every piece of design,” says Patzke, who describes the Grand Orchid video as an artistic architectural film. “The goal of all my work is to help bring awareness to architecture and beautiful design.”

When producing an architectural video, it’s crucial to understand a client’s story. In this case that was the story of SDAF. But it also was necessary to understand the story of the Center of Novel Therapeutics and the vision of its architects, Perkins & Will.

The Making of a Grand Video


Patzke and Doll began by interviewing the architects and developing a seamless narrative for the production. They then arranged for access to the facility — no easy task during the pandemic. Add to the mix the fact that Patzke and Doll had a tight deadline, and it seemed like a perfect storm of stress. Orchids & Onions jury deliberations didn’t end until late August, so the men had just three weeks in September to produce the video from start to finish. They met the challenge head-on.

In assessing the Center for Novel Therapeutics before filming, Patzke and Doll were struck by the stark quiet of the complex at a time when so many are working remotely. To bring the center’s collaborative essence to life, they knew they had to fill the space with people. Fortunately, they roll in a close-knit group, and they called on friends to help tell the center’s story of integration and connection.

Brian Doll

“When you have the opportunity to do a video at this level, you put your head down and do your best,” says Doll, a staff photographer for Swinerton Builders. “When you have a building of this size that’s designed to have people congregating together, it needs to be filled out so the space comes alive. For us, it came back to storytelling, as it always does. We knew we needed the introduction of life and people in that space, and it worked out beautifully.”

Doll, influenced by the photography skills of his father and grandfather, developed a love of the art form at age 15. Even today, the world of shadow and light is where he’s most comfortable. But video is exciting in its own right, he says. It’s new, fresh, and helps him stay present.

Filming with Environmental Stewardship In Mind


The Grand Orchid video was a total exercise in being present, and it brought to light how crucial it is, as an architectural photographer, to understand how spaces act as stewards of the land. While that’s always an important consideration in a place like San Diego, having that awareness was especially important in filming the Center for Novel Therapeutics.

“Doing this production required us to understand how the center helps create a healthier planet,” Patzke says, citing the clear solar panels that are positioned on the center’s roof.  “Not only do the panels collect light and create energy for the building, they also provide light for the atrium and transfer that energy into electricity.” The center also has windows that open to the exterior, reducing air-conditioning costs.

Patzke and Doll approach their work in similar ways, and it makes their collaboration all the more harmonious. One-time competitors who have known each other for about 10 years, being in synch allows them to present a fuller story about architectural projects on behalf of their clients.

“People often say, ‘I have never looked at that building in that way,’” Patzke says. “It’s hard to see everything in the eyes of the designer, and that’s really our goal — to help San Diegans see a little bit better the designer’s viewpoint, so they can come to understand the impact of thoughtful and meaningful design.”

Be sure to watch Ian and Brian’s Grand Orchid video to see firsthand how they bring Perkins & Will’s design to life.

All photos by Patzke + Doll

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