Evaluation Criteria

What Makes a Project an Orchid or an Onion?

Making San Diego an even better place then it already is by designing and building inspiring spaces and places, starts with thinking about the elements of design. Here are the criteria that are used to evaluate projects.


  • Exemplifies good place making, i.e. it is a functional and memorable place or space to be
  • Contributes to its surrounding context and adds to community character
  • Skillfully and thoughtfully detailed and crafted – showing respect for materials and the community
  • Expresses something relevant to our time and place – San Diego, right now, as well as its function
  • Provides social and economic benefit to residents of San Diego / Tijuana
  • Encourages social interaction or a quiet moment
  • Elicits a sense of civic pride
  • Is technologically or environmentally innovative
  • Supports community building
  • Promotes sustainability


  • The opposite of an Orchid (see orchid qualities above)
  • A missed opportunity
  • A blight or eyesore that shows a lack of commitment to quality design and our community
  • An example of poor construction methods
  • Ignores neighborhood and community context