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.
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.
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.
Soheil and Nima Nakhshaband's objective with Shayan House was to create a home that was not only green but that would also comfortably accommodate three generations of the family. The multigenerational home places great emphasis on outdoor space, where a set of Bertoia chairs offer an appealing perch around a vintage glass-and-metal table. Photo by Ye Rin Mok.
Even though he was born in Mexico City, San Diego–based designer and developer Sebastian Mariscal has readily absorbed the Californian obsession with deck life. This idea is clearly visible in his designs for a pair of identical houses called 2inns (pronounced “twins”). Here Sebastian and his wife Maricarmen take in the scenery from the comfort of their exposed living room. The couple sits on a Polder sofa by Hella Jongerius for Vitra. Photo by Bryce Duffy.
Architect Jonathan Segal sticks to his motto of keeping it simple in designing his own home in the section of downtown San Diego known as Little Italy. His son Matthew sets about finishing his latest knitting project while lounging on furniture of his dad’s design. A sound system and lighting by Halo are recessed into the ceiling. Photo by Randi Berez.
Public Architecture and Planning built this San Diego home for a family who loves the outdoors. Case in point: Gabriella swings on the rope swing hung from the podocarpus tree in the courtyard. The twenty-foot-tall, steel-framed, custom-built wood screen provides enough privacy to give the outdoor space the feeling of a room. Photo by Noah Webb.
When San Diego residents Im and David Schafer moved in together they faced the challenge of combining the contents of David’s 880-square-foot loft and Im’s 550-square-foot apartment into a one-room, 426-square-foot downtown loft. The Schaffer's furniture includes an Eames Aluminum Group lounge chair ("and ottoman!" adds Im.) A coffee table made of glued, corrugated cardboard was the couple's first project together, when they met in college. Photo by Misha Gravenor.
In the absence of natural light, architect Nathan Lee Colkitt opened up his loft in order to maximize a sense of spaciousness in a multi-unit building in San Diego’s Little Italy neighborhood. Photo by Cheryl Ramsay.
Louis Kahn’s Salk Institute is a stunning building that looks directly out to the sea. Architectural tourists flock to the site, which still functions as a working laboratory. Photo by Bryce Duffy.