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Design Guide: San Diego

Architecture in San Diego—from newly built homes to modern classics like Kahn's Salk Institute—blends tradition and innovation in an exciting new way.
This San Diego home, designed by Soheil and Nima Nakhshab, brings together mid-century opulence with a contemporary quest for sustainability, as the first single-family LEED Gold–certified residence in San Diego. Here, a Nelson sofa sits on a handmade Persian Mahi rug in the living room. Photo by Ye Rin Mok.

Nestled on the Pacific coastline, between Los Angeles’s sprawl and the Mexican border, San Diego is a California town with a rich modernist tradition. Louis Kahn's Salk Institute and Irving Gill's residential masterpieces are enough to reserve its place in architectural textbooks. Many contemporary architects in San Diego draw from Kahn's and Gill's lessons of simplicity and functionality in using simple, clean forms; utilizing the abundance of light; and maximizing open spaces. But they are also succesful in pairing midcentury classics with a strong awareness of sustainable practices, anchoring the city's design scene firmly in the 21st century. We take a look at some of the great design ideas that abound in the city from elaborately articulated outside spaces to airy interiors and inspiring architectural details. 

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