SDAF’s Resident Educator is Schooled in Architecture and the World

When Jose Parral joined the SDAF Board of Directors, he recognized an opportunity to influence San Diego’s built environment and the next generation of designers.

As Architecture Chair at Woodbury University’s San Diego campus, Parral cares deeply about San Diego students, and he’d like SDAF to play a role in influencing rising stars of the future.

Parral brings a unique perspective to SDAF, one deeply rooted in his Latino upbringing. A native San Diegan, in many respects he’s an international melting pot. His parents emigrated here from Mexico, and he’s part of the first generation in his family to be born here. As a teenager, he yearned to explore his Latino identity. But as a minority raised in the San Diego suburbs, he never felt he had that freedom.

Finding Inspiration in World-Class Cities

That changed when Parral attended community college after high school, as he met people from all over San Diego. Then at UC Berkeley, at 21, Parral traveled far beyond southern California and began to view the world differently.

“Together, my international experiences opened my eyes to what’s possible in San Diego,” he says. “That history, that worldly point of view, is what I bring to the SDAF board.”

Parral was the first in his family to earn a college degree. He earned his bachelor’s degree in landscape architecture from UC Berkeley and his master’s degree in landscape urbanism from the Architectural Association School of Architecture in London. As a recipient of the Kate L. Brewster Rome Prize in Landscape Architecture, he also spent a year in the Italian capital, studying the city’s ancient architecture.

In exploring cities like Paris, Rome and Barcelona, Parral learned that through small, simple measures, designers can fundamentally improve public spaces and build them to last. San Diego is a big step closer to standing among the great architectural centers of the world, especially with influential programs like Open House San Diego and Orchids & Onions. But it will take a bit more work.

The solution lies in SDAF’s mission — to inspire San Diegans to discover the value of thoughtful design in the natural and built environment.

“Design does play a role in how we live and behave,” Parral says. “If people can understand the role of design in politics, in culture, in society as a whole, I think that becomes really important to changing the world.”


Education and Design Together Can Shape Urban Landscapes

Parral’s time in Europe showed him that preservation can play a vital role in shaping urban landscapes for the better. In his work today, he recognizes that SDAF can take the lead in helping local leaders decide when to advocate for preservation, and when to advocate for change.

As the resident educator on SDAF’s Board of Directors, Parral sits on the Scholarship Committee and BEEP Committee, SDAF’s program for youth. He sees young designers as the future, and strives to do all he can to help them reach their potential.

Parral understands how education and design work together to shape the urban landscape. A resident of Logan Heights, where the sense of community is strong, he sees how Woodbury influences those who live there. It’s not just a school. It’s a place where decisions are made. And that, Parral says, influences the broader community.

“At Woodbury, education moves beyond buildings on campus and goes out into the real world,” he says. “For me, joining the SDAF Board of Directors was another way to bring that to life.”

Learn more about the professionals who make up the SDAF Board of Directors.

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San Diego Architectural Foundation



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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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