On September 23—and in a the heart of downtown San Diego across Jon Jerde’s famous Horton Plaza—Bosa Development, headed by Nat Bosa, opened for a limited run exhibition entitled Rethink Downtown: Behind San Diego’s Skyline. The show celebrates San Diego’s urban history and asks visitors to ponder downtown’s future: Where it’s going and how architecture, design, amenities, and quality of life enable San Diego to matter on a national scale from millennials to boomers? “San Diego is more livable now and the city should be proud of it.” —Jinsuk Park, Kohn Pedersen Fox The exhibition presents a chronological view of San Diego’s downtown urban process of “rethinking” itself though historic photographs, from the Spanish-Colonial Mission of Junipero Serra to the future development of Pacific Gate, a 41–story residential high-rise by Bossa Development designed by the New York firm of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates. Vancouver-based design critic and urban commentator Trevor Boddy curated the narrative Rethink; his premise sketches a slice of downtown history. Photos and drawings hang on a series of freestanding walls where visitors can follow the specific historical moments that have made Downtown San Diego a more livable, rethought place. A large-scale model of downtown shows Bossa’s contribution to the city’s skyline through its current and future developments. It is interesting to note that the curator had not visited San Diego for more than 30 years. “When I was here in 1983 San Diego did not have much of a downtown, you came here to go to Tijuana” Boddy said. The exhibit presents San Diego’s boom and bust evolution, yet it overlooked one of the most important documents ever made for the city and the region; “Temporary Paradise” drafted by Kevin Lynch and Donald Appleyard in 1974. The exhibition events will include lectures and presentations and panel discussions related to architecture and urbanism of downtown San Diego, as well as a showroom for Bossa’s future developments in the city that includes a series of residential high rise projects. During the opening event Bossa emphasized that the purpose of the presence of tall buildings in the city has been to “Give San Diego a new generation of residential high rises, more residential [housing] is needed.” According to the Rethink exhibition, the future of San Diego is a vertical paradise. The evening presentation ended with a tour by KPF’s Jinsuk Park through the design stages of the nautilus inspired Pacific Gate Tower. Guests saw the conceptual sketches and models of the tower now under construction near San Diego’s harbor and will sit alongside another residential tower by Bossa and KPF accentuating a gateway gesture to the city. “Residential buildings are the new architecture icons in cities and an important part of downtown revivals” Park exclaimed. Residential high-rises look great on a city's postcard, but are not necessarily what stimulate great urban public spaces. The efficacy of housing in downtown has been due in most part to the diversity in affordable unit design and the ability to activate urban space at a street level. In 1995, Little Italy a neighborhood on the northern edge of downtown was at the forefront of a new type of urban renewal model. The work of local architects (Rob Quigley, Ted Smith, Jonathan Segal, Kathy McCormick, to name a few) began experimenting with the practice model of architect developers focusing on the urban impact that mix-use dense urban living can have on the economic and urban success of a neighborhood. The livability of downtown San Diego has been consequence of pedestrian amenities such as large tree lined sidewalks, accessibility to public transportation and diverse mid-rise housing developments that encourage small shops and restaurants to stay in their community. A walkable density is what the city needs to focus on. The next rethinking of San Diego should include planning strategies that integrate communities such as Golden Hill, North Park, and Barrio Logan, vibrant zones that are catering to a different type of urbanite. It is these spaces that require investment to strengthen their cultural and housing diversity as well as keeping them far from the homogeneity of the glass box tower.
Posts tagged with "Jonathan Segal":
The night was called "Different by Design," though it could have been subtitled "Designing Differences." Developer Abby Hamlin moderated an amusing exchange between developers and architect/developers at Columbia University’s GSAPP Real Estate Development program on Tuesday. The original intent was to present the merits of good design to real estate development and architecture students, but a developer vs. architect rivalry emerged pretty early on. New York developer Jane Gladstein joined the Chicago based developers Karen and Robert Ranquist, while New York-based Jared Della Valle, San Diego-based Jonathan Segal, and Tim McDonald of Philadelphia represented the contingent of architects who act as their own developers. Della Valle got the ball rolling with his presentation that included his recent designs for luxury projects at the High Line and a large-scale commercial building at Hudson Yards. Della Valle seemed equally at ease with the independence of being a architect/developer as well as serving the needs of other developer clients. Jane Gladstein presented several completed projects, including two in Greenwich Village and Soho 25, a project geared toward the young “tragically hip buyer.” “When you’re selling things at a high price point, it’s not about need, it’s about desire,” she told the crowd. She then took the opportunity to remind the real estate development students that it was important for them to remember they were the ones in charge, not the architect. As a few architecture students shifted in their seats, Jonathan Segal took the floor. The irreverent architect/developer asked for a show of hands from those in the audience who were architecture students. With a majority established, he told them they should all become developers so that they wouldn’t have to answer to developer clients. He then offered a litany of sage advice: “You don’t have to build product, you build indemnity”; “You have to learn how to stay away from the community groups, because they don’t have your interests in mind”; “A really dumb banker is a really good banker.” And perhaps the most incendiary tidbit of the night: “Architects are smarter than developers.” By the time Tim McDonald reached the podium, his presentation of a family-owned business that merges community needs with green design proved the perfect antidote to Segal’s hard-charging demeanor. Karen Ranquist’s presentation of her firm’s work in Chicago, where they build luxury townhouses at a steady pace, brought the evening to a sedate conclusion.
Yesterday, we posted the feature from our current California issue, "On Their Mark," about a new show at the Museum of Contemporary Art San Diego highlighting seven local firms. While sending over the pictures of the exhibition, Mix: Nine San Diego Architects and Designers, that went into our slideshow, the fine folks at MCASD also sent along these nice photos from the opening party, which were taken by Lauren Radack. In case, like us, you couldn't make it. (And if you know anyone in these photos we may not have mentioned, do tell).