Orchids & Onions / Orquídeas & Cebollas

White and red building with modern architecture, with a blue sky background
Orchids & Onions

Which parts of the built environment make our city a better place to live?

¿Qué partes del entorno construido hacen de nuestra ciudad un mejor lugar para vivir?

Ever ask yourself why a place becomes a favorite spot that people return to time and again to make memories that last a lifetime? Or what makes San Diego “San Diego”? Why is our city so special, and could it be even more special? And what about the future of our downtown, the waterfront, the parks, the neighborhoods we call home?

To answer these questions, we turn to you—yes you! SDAF’s Orchids & Onions program brings San Diegans together to decide which parts of the built environment—be it building, park, or plaza—make our city a better place to live. Each year brings in a whole new crop of projects, spaces, and places to consider, nominate, comment on and vote into fame or infamy.

¿Alguna vez te has preguntado por qué un lugar se convierte en el lugar favorito al que la gente regresa una y otra vez para crear recuerdos que durarán toda la vida? ¿O qué hace que San Diego sea “San Diego”? ¿Por qué nuestra ciudad es tan especial? ¿Podría ser aún más especial? ¿Y qué hay del futuro de nuestro centro, la costa, los parques, los vecindarios que llamamos hogar?

Para responder estas preguntas, recurrimos a ti; ¡sí, a ti! El programa Orchids & Onions [Orquídeas y Cebollas] de SDAF reúne a los habitantes de San Diego para decidir qué partes del entorno construido (ya sea un edificio, un parque o una plaza) hacen de nuestra ciudad un mejor lugar para vivir. Cada año trae consigo una nueva variedad de proyectos, espacios y lugares para considerar, nominar, comentar y votar hacia la fama o la infamia.

Para obtener detalles sobre cómo nominar, votar y, por supuesto, la gala de premiación, visita el sitio web oficial de Orchids & Onions [Orquídeas y Cebollas].

2024 nominations are now open! / ¡Las nominaciones para 2024 ya están abiertas!

About Orchids & Onions

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Orchids & Onions is an educational program dedicated to the promotion of outstanding architecture, planning, and urban design throughout the San Diego region. It is the only interactive, community-based program geared towards raising awareness and encouraging practical discourse in response to San Diego’s built environment.

Each year, a jury of design professionals and artists is selected to determine the official Orchids & Onions based upon public submissions in categories including: architecture, interior design, landscape architecture, and historic preservation.

The success of the program relies heavily upon the citizens of San Diego. Public nominations and feedback about the nominations are integral to the planning, growth, and future development of our city. We urge you to take part in this shared process. Participate!!

View selected scenes from the Orchids & Onions 2022 architectural jury tour

How it works

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Nominations will open in May. Visit the nominations page to nominate your favorite projects. Categories include architecture, interior design, urban planning, landscape architecture, historic preservation and “miscellaneous”- anything not covered by other categories. Share and comment on your favorite entries as those that get the most attention from the community will make the shortlist for consideration for the People’s Choice award. View our evaluation criteria.

Jury Process

After nominations close, a multidisciplinary jury convenes to cull the nominations for the year’s harvest for best and worst. Made up of design professionals, plus one student and one member from the general public, the jury tours the cream of the crop, traveling to each project for firsthand evaluation. Jurors then deliberate on which entries earn a spot at the winner’s table (our orchids) versus those that need to be composted (the onions).

Cast Your Vote for People’s Choice

You and other San Diegans determine the nominees and winners for each year’s People’s Choice Orchid and Onion*. This is how it works. All nominated projects are fair game for the People’s Choice Award. Votes are cast online to determine the year’s People’s Choice Orchid and Onion*.

Awards Gala

Join us for a fun-filled, thought-provoking night of commentary and discussion about San Diego’s built environment as we award the orchids and onions. Attendees include design enthusiasts, industry professionals and city leaders who all bring their energy and insights. The Orchids & Onions Awards Gala is held each year in October, we hope to see you there!

Step up to sponsorship

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When you become a sponsor for this vital and vibrant program, you not only support its continued and future success, you also make your organization visible to a unique audience of professionals and fellow citizens committed to inspired place making. Your support will be recognized throughout the season, from opening of the nominations through to the exciting awards ceremony. Click here to learn more about sponsor benefits, levels of sponsorship and how to become a sponsor.

Upcoming Orchids & Onions events


2024 Orchids & Onions Awards Nominations NOW OPEN!

May 3, 2024 - July 26, 2024