A crop of orchids blooming in La Jolla
by Mariko Lamb
Published - 10/17/12 - 02:55 PM | 12771 views | 0 0 comments | 9 9 recommendations | email to a friend | print
Herringbone's vastly improved interior. Photo by Kyle Igarashi
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San Diego Architectural Foundation’s annual Orchids & Onions Awards returned to honor the year’s bloomers and stinkers in architecture, interior design, historic preservation, sustainable design and landscape architecture throughout the city.

This year, among 19 projects presented with awards at the Museum of Contemporary Art in La Jolla on Oct. 11 were three La Jolla attractions, which were honored with Orchid awards for blooming architecture, interior design and landscape architecture.

And the winners are …


What was previously a vast, vacant warehouse with an expansive barreled roof, has been transformed into a 21st century wonderland filled with unique nautical elements, like stacks of lobster traps filled with lacquered puffer fish, a giant whale skeleton caged in wrought iron and exposed light bulbs, and rope-art installations draped from every corner of the restaurant’s one-of-a-kind chandeliers and lighting elements.

Thomas Schoos, mastermind behind the building’s interior design, even lined the restaurant’s vintage brick walls with his own original paintings, which depict bold graffiti-style illustrations of seafood on oversized canvases.

Exposed brick and natural wood elements line the walls and ceiling of the establishment, and the branches of six 100-year-old olive trees twist overhead as guests enjoy their fare. Iconic images and aged textures transform the former industrial warehouse into an eclectic rustic garden dappled in light from the interior skylights by day and from the twinkling light fixtures by night.

Schoos’ vision and transformation brought to life a long-vacant building, ultimately earning him and his design team an Orchid in this year’s interior design category.


This 88,000-square-foot medical training center, designed by architects at Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, is a striking modern spectacle that exudes transparency and well-executed design to inspire the next generation of medical experts housed within its glass-paned walls.

Its prominent feature — a dramatic glass panel suspended on the building’s front façade — makes for a welcoming entrance to the state-of-the-art facility. Adding to the design are the building’s floor-to-ceiling glass-walled interior hallways, its use of ample natural lighting and materials, and a spacious central courtyard that serves as the communal hub for transport in and out of the building. Flanked by generous open landscaped spaces and situated at the intersection of two major pedestrian routes, the building encourages its inhabitants to interact and exchange ideas in a stimulating, indoor-outdoor learning facility.

The innovative architecture of the building — and the cutting-edge technology it holds — creates an atmosphere that is commensurate to the world-class medical school and its students.


The craftsmanship of this cast concrete building and its sustainable landscaped grounds has earned the student housing complex two orchids at this year’s awards.

UCSD’s first LEED Platinum-certified student-housing complex exemplifies smart, sustainable design in its form and function. The undergraduate housing complex, which is home to more than 500 UCSD students, employs myriad innovative tactics to tackle Southern California’s environmental challenges from the building’s grounds.

Significant reductions in energy consumption are sourced from a number of designs, including natural cooling by ocean breezes made possible by the building’s shape and arrangement, onsite renewable energy from a rooftop photovoltaic array and heating efficiencies achieved by thermal mass and other sustainable measures.

Landscape architects from Spurlock Poirer also made water management, conservation and reuse some of their primary goals, resulting in the creation of the building’s water efficient landscaping and plumbing, onsite wastewater recycling, and remediation of stormwater flow from the Pacific through a system of landscape bio-swales and retention basins.

The noteworthy efforts to construct a building that meets the utmost standards in sustainable design, while not compromising the building’s aesthetic, were not overlooked by SDAF, earning architects at Kieran Timberlake and Spurlock Poirer praise as an exceptional example of environmentally sensitive design and landscape.

To see a full list of Orchids & Onions award winners, visit www.orchidsandonions.org.
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