To anyone interested in what’s going on around us I’d like to offer the evident — not very profound but a word on the here and now. Of course I have to give it a new name…to be profound. But don’t let the title fool you. There is absolutely nothing new to be said. Singularity as defined by Merriam-Webster: 1. something that is singular; as a: a separate unit b: unusual or distinctive manner or behavior; peculiarity 2. the quality or state of being singular. Physicists have their version of singularity but the most widely accepted version is technological singularity where computer intelligence advances at such a rate that computers no longer need humans. However, the singularity I am referring to is one of cultural means. It is one where the world becomes very small. It’s Facebook, watching the same television programming, reading the same blogs, shopping on Ebay, Craig’s List, Amazon, carrying around the same tablet PC’s, phones, downloading the same illegal content from the internet. We are all just a few button pushes away from anyone else in the world. Sounds great I suppose, and in many ways it is. But for those of you that are bored by a lack of diversity and complexity in the world, this creates a problem. For example, the television show The OC can be instantly transmitted to India and copied by every Indian, Russian, and Brazilian around the world. Thus, simultaneously communicating the same images, branding the California lifestyle globally. So this brings me to the obvious. The world is getting small, we are all starting to look and act alike, cultures are breaking down, blending, and we are all starting to become culturally homogenous. How does this apply to the built environment? The same principles apply to the architectural world. What makes cities like San Francisco, New York, Paris, or Prague interesting? Diversity. A quality of uniqueness. The concern then is, as the world gets smaller, architects, planners and engineers are all reading the same blogs, checking the same websites, downloading the same precedent imagery for their presentations to clients and agencies. As a previous UrbDeZine blogger rightfully points out, what makes Vegas any different from Dubai? What then makes San Diego any different from Vancouver? Yes there are some obvious differences but please bear with me as I make a point. In San Diego we continuously compare ourselves to other cities. Instead, I suggest we recognize that as residents of this city, we live in a special place culturally as well as geographically. Identify what makes San Diego so unique – the proximity to geographic edges, the border to México, the ocean, and the desert, the climate, the laid back lifestyle, and the variety of topography. Define what and who we are as a culture, unique to any other in the world. We need to stop comparing ourselves to others and start identifying ourselves as “only in San Diego”. People that live in a region the longest begin to stop recognizing its identifying natural characteristics. It’s like the person who lives on Sunset Cliffs but rarely sees the sunset. The bottom line is that this place is different from any other in the world. We should celebrate this. We should never compare or try to emulate but strive to enhance what is uniquely ours. What do you think makes San Diego uniquely ours? Post your thoughts…
About David McCullough
David W. McCullough, RLA, ASLA
Principal, McCullough Landscape Architecture, Inc. (MLA)
A graduate of Cal Poly University, San Luis Obispo, David formed McCullough Landscape Architecture as a sole proprietorship in 1999 while consulting for another firm. After wife and partner, Catherine joined the business in 2001 and became Chief Executive Officer and President in 2002; the firm became a woman-owned corporation and a certified Small Business by the State of California.
With offices in San Diego and the Bay Area, McCullough creates spaces for hospitality, retail, mixed-use and institutional properties around the world. As principal landscape architect, David oversees all aspects of the design and production of firm projects at McCullough. He serves as head designer on all projects and maintains quality control on all work completed. Previous projects have earned awards and recognition in several national publications.
David finds time in his schedule to take leadership in creative organizations such as the the San Diego Architecture Foundation (SDAF) and the American Institute of Architects (AIA) local Urban Design Committee. He currently serves as Chair of the Pecha Kucha Night program, which is on its sixth successful year. He finds it inspiring to take part in such a diverse mix of creative minds while bringing them together to share with the public their wild ideas.
In addition, recently David was appointed by San Diego Mayor Kevin Faulconer to serve on the Historical Resources Board as Chair, which governs the identification, protection, retention and preservation of historical sites in San Diego. Concurrently, he has been invited to serve on the city’s Code Monitoring Team (CMT).
David’s design philosophy is centered around merging context and creative passion with grit, soul, and style. The firm takes every project with a uniquely creative approach that centers around diversity, discovery and conservation. David feels it’s important to engage the human spirit with nature, while expressing empathy.
Recent projects include a large waterfront development in Shanghai, China, Seaport San Diego redevelopment, several multifamily projects in Calgary and Vancouver, along with other notable hospitality, entertainment, and mixed-use collaborations in the Western US and Canada.