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Sam the Cooking Guy Announces 2012 Orchids and Onions Awards

by Emma Goda, published

From the ahi tacos, to the orchid martinis, the food was almost as inspirational as the architecture. But nothing could top the light-hearted mood set by Sam the Cooking Guy at the Museum of Contemporary Art for the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s (SDAF) annual Orchids and Onions Awards. The title sponsor of the event was the Newschool Architecture of Design.

The event included a silent auction with an array of wines, vacation packages, artwork, and other gifts. All proceeds went to benefit SDAF, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization to help promote diverse architectural education, programming, planning, and recognition.

This year, Onion recipients addressed the crowd for the first time. Sam said it best, “[C]oming up on the stage to accept an Onion is the equivalent to having architectural balls.” But what the guests learned from many of the Onion speeches is that the perception of a failed project to some, may be accompanied by a brighter story that can't be measured by an architectural jury. Below are the "Orchids" and "Onions" accompanied by some of the most memorable quotes from the night’s light-hearted event.

#1 - Orchid: Public Art at Ocean Beach Comfort Station
"A true reflection of Ocean Beach and the community it was built for.”

#2 – Onion: City Heights Family Health Center
“A lost opportunity on a street that needs all the help it can get.”

#3 – Orchid: SDG&E Energy Innovation Center
“85% of building materials either re-used or recycled. Certified Lee-Platinum.”

 #4 – Orchid: Charles David Keeling Apartments at UCSD
"We rented all 400+ units in the building within 31 minutes."

#5 – Onion: Mission Apartments, Affordable Housing Building
“The only design detail was that the building corresponds well with the neighboring A-1 storage facility.”

#6 -  Orchid: Car2Go
“Building represents the innovative quality of their brand clean technology of a zero emission fleet.”

#7 – Orchid: High Tech High Chula Vista, K8
“Every school has something to learn from these innovative design concepts”

#8 – Onion: Demolition of the Star Building at Beech and Kettner
“When you see this in totality and you see what we are doing, I guarantee we will be back here again.” - County Supervisor Ron Roberts
#9 – Onion: SDSU for the demolition of the Aztec Center.
“Architecture is always a stylistic choice ... I could talk to you about how to serve 35,000 student in a building built for ten, … but instead we invite you to come by and visit the cafes, the bowling alley, and the student facilities that have been built on time ."

#10 – Orchid: Harbor Aquatic Restroom Facility.
“It’s quite the popular spot.”
#11 – Orchid: UCSD for the Medical Education Telemedicine Building.
"This was paid for by Proposition 206, but half of it is still unpaid for. So if any of you want your name on the building, let me know.”
#12 – Onion: Hilton San Diego Bayfront
“Its driveway and disregard for the bay-front was downright deplorable.”
#13 – Orchid: Herringbone
“A dining experience that is equal parts whimsical and modern. It was vacant for 35 years after it was an Oldsmobile dealership."
#14 – Onion: Vons Mission Hills
 "Just throw the blame to the San Diego planning commission for their unanimous approval."
#15 - People’s Choice Orchid: County Operations Center
“Proving that buildings don’t have to be boring to be economical ... [W]e set out to demolish what some would say were arguably historical buildings.” - County Supervisor Ron Roberts
#16 - People’s Choice Onion: City Heights Family Health Center
"The slate windows ommunicate more of a do not enter sign than a welcome.”

#17 – Grand Onion: Miramar College Mathematics and Business Building
“Good may be subjective, but bad is universal.”


#18 - 2012 Grand Orchid: Chicano Park Restoration Project
“I’m proud of what we have accomplished for the Chicano community.”
Photo credit: Darren Bradley

Pictures from the 2012 Orchids and Onions Awards and Silent Auction

“Well that’s it ladies and gentlemen. Don’t forget to get the junk you bid on.” - Sam the Cooking Guy

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