The San Diego Architectural Foundation hosts Open House San Diego beginning Friday to explore the best in local architecture and urban design – but the event has a new look this year.

That’s because organizers diversified the mix of sites for the sixth OH! San Diego “in the spirit of inclusivity and a renewed focus on community,” they said.

They altered the direction of the free event in the wake of the pandemic, as most people have spent more time in their homes and communities, while also acknowledging the dialogue that began following George Floyd’s May 2020 death at the hands of police officers in Minnesota.

As a result, seven communities that have never been part of the architectural tour were included.

“This year’s event will expand beyond its traditional borders and encourage San Diegans to explore and appreciate a more diverse and culturally rich mix of communities,” organizers said.

Barrio Logan was the first area selected for the tour. The criteria for selection included: the area’s positive impact, from its cultural and historical significance and innovative use of public spaces to mindful new development and the ability to foster community.

Two other city neighborhoods, City Heights and Southeastern San Diego were chosen, along with Chula Vista, La Mesa, National City and San Marcos.

Participants can explore on their own, with additional panels and presentations taking place through March 12.

OH! San Diego offers a range of options, both virtual and in-person (most are free, but some have suggested donations):

  • Self-guided tours – Available via the ArchiMaps app, or downloadable and printable PDF maps on their website, to find award-winning architecture, historical points of interest, public art, parks and community gardens, new developments and hidden gems.
  • Bike tour – a socially distanced 3-4 mile sojourn through Barrio Logan’s lesser-known spots.
  • Behind-the-scenes videos and virtual tours – Already available starting March 3, they offer glimpses into a variety of sites, from the Ocean Discovery Institute in City Heights to an exclusive look at Chula Vista Fire Station No. 10.
  • Educational videos: Improve your Instagram shots, with a lesson on architectural photography.
  • Kid and family activities: BEEP and KidSketch will offer architect-guided tutorials on how to sketch significant Open House sites such as the Lincoln Acres Library, National City Aquatic Center and the Chula Vista Library South Branch, while a “Design Your Future” panel features professionals talking about design careers.

Note: Photo credit – National City Aquatic Center, via