San Diego – I took a little stroll and drive around East Village this April to take a closer look at my favorite new building, the downtown library under construction, and several new projects under way.
The library has really taken shape. It was designed by Robert Wellington Quigley and Tucker Sadler Architects, and funded by a tremendous fund raising drive including a $20,000,000 gift by Joan & Irwin Jacobs. Classic Quigley, it looks to be a building of interesting spaces, angles, and nooks. I love the pop-out glass walled nooks which can be seen in the first photo.
I’d also recently noticed an interesting nearly completed white structure next to the Mission Cafe on 13th. When I got a little closer, I saw Rob Quigley with some family members in the building. I rudely interupted him to ask about the building. It’s not only his design, but will be his new location. We joked that Little Italy had become too tame for him and that he needed the edge of East Village. I then walked back to Park Boulevard, just as the Silver Line Street Car was passing by. That little section of Park Blvd. hints at the plans for it and possibilities. The width of the sidewalk and Boulevard, as well as the trees suggest a sort of San Diego Las Ramblas (Barcelona). One of the biggest disappointments resulting from the construction collapse that followed the economic meltdown of 2008, was the “donut hole” left in the middle of downtown. The many interrupted projects left little islands of new buildings in a wasteland of demolished buildings, empty lots, vacated buildings, and parking lots. Now surprisingly, two new projects are underway to create some continuity near the Albertson’s grocery store and the resdences above on 14th & Market. Two six story apartment projects are being constructed in front and in back of Albertson’s – one is underway and the other is expected to start before the end of the year. Veering strongly away from fanciful names, one is called 13th & Market and the other 15th & Market.
One of the most pleasant and promising trends has been the addition of new educational institutions (e.g., Thomas Jefferson Law School and the Library Charter School) and the expansion of existing institutions (e.g., New School of Architecture, the new library, and San Diego City College). Thomas Jefferson Law School, which opened in 2011, is now in full swing. With the new building, the School looks to have leap frogged in prestige. I was especially happy to see the expansion of City College along 16th Street. The integration with a city street, reminded me of some of the colleges in NYC. However, my enthusiasm was subsequently dampened somewhat when it became apparent that a significant portion of the construction was dedicated to parking garages. Nevertheless, the infusion of classrooms on a City street is a welcome addition.