The historic Greek Theater at Point Loma Nazarene University. Courtesy of the university

San Diego’s 4th annual community-wide open house this weekend will give both locals and visitors a unique opportunity to see the city’s impressive architectural record.

OH! San Diego  — for Open House San Diego — is the popular, free architectural festival on March 23 and 24 that’s produced annually by the San Diego Architectural Foundation.

The event offers rare, behind-the-scenes access to a wide variety of iconic, cutting edge, and historical buildings that shape the fabric of our treasured neighborhoods. Local residents, and out-of-town visitors, will have the opportunity to visit 98 sites in downtown San Diego, Bankers Hill, Barrio Logan, Point Loma, and new this year, La Jolla.

For attendees, the first step is to sign in at one of the neighborhood hubs and receive a site map and festival “passport,” which will be stamped at each site visited. Trained volunteers at the hubs will answer questions, recommend sites, and help plan itineraries. There’s full information online.

Through guided site tours and interactions with architecture, design and planning professionals, attendees will learn about issues that are relevant today, including smart growth, environmental sustainability, public infrastructure, re-purposing of space and materials, and historic preservation.

There will also be a juried photo competition with prizes awarded to the winners, and an architect-led sketching event for kids.

The sites include award-winning architecture and design studios, museums, schools, world-class scientific research facilities, hotels, high-rises, fire stations, libraries, urban farms, co-workplaces, theaters, affordable housing complexes, churches, synagogues, shipyards and historic sites.

OH! San Diego is a community-based program. Its mission is to demonstrate how architecture and design directly impact the quality of our lives. We hope to motivate residents and community leaders to engage in planning a sustainable, equitable, and beautiful future.

Susanne Friestedt

I’m a native San Diegan and lifelong Point Loma resident. When I launched the event in 2012, my personal goal was to give back to my hometown in a meaningful, lasting way.

Now over 300 trained volunteers generously help to keep the program running smoothly in participating neighborhoods each year. You can volunteer during OH! San Diego by contacting Carol Chin, our program director.

Last year, 90 percent of festival visitors reported they’d learned something new about our city, or visited a neighborhood they’d not explored before.  Many of the participating organizations appreciated the opportunity to interact with the community, explaining the history and importance of their sites.

“High-quality planning, design, and architecture enrich the quality of life and physical beauty of San Diego, and are hallmarks of a great city,” said Assemblyman Todd Gloria. “SDAF’s efforts to promote a bold, human-centered vision for the built environment are helping transform our city into one that is more inviting, efficient and livable for all residents.”

San Diego is the third city in the United States to become an official Open House Worldwide city, joining New York and Chicago in this distinction. Over one million people participate in Open House Worldwide weekends across the world.

So join us this weekend in visiting the architectural icons that make Sand Diego special.

Susanne Friestedt is a native San Diegan and lifelong Point Loma resident. She founded OH! San Diego.

Show comments