Till O&O!

October 26, 2017
Reception & Ceremony
The US Grant
Tickets Available Now!



Nominator 1:

The “makeover” of the former Uptown District” shopping center (a.k.a. Ralph’s shopping center) at 10th & University is apparently working hard at earning an “Onion” award. Mismatched wall murals, some of them outright hideous, a tragic attempt at modern sculpture using bright yellow i-beams sticking out of the cement outside Starbucks, a barely discernible “HUB” logo in white-on-white, all contribute to the feeling of this having been “designed” by an eighth-grader for a science project.

Key to uploaded image:
1. White on White signage disappears into the wall

2. Quasi-religious imagery on a bank??? And I didn’t notice the wrap-around HUB logo on the upper corner until after I got home.

3. Yellow I-beam “trees” and benches to sit out in the glaring sun.

4. One of the most hideous murals EVER.


Nominator 2:

The HUB shopping center and adjacent condo complex was considered an outstanding example of redevelopment when it was first built. It might even have won some awards.

About two years ago, the shopping center was repainted with new colors, given new signage and patio furniture/landscaping,, and the result is ugly and in the poorest of taste. The colors are wrong. There are stripes and patterns on some of the buildings that are tacky and scream “cheap.” Awnings are in the most hideous and clashing of colors.

But the piece de resistance of hideousness is the redo of the patio outside Starbucks.

A low wall with a hedge previously encircled what was then a delightful patio, shaded by three or four jacaranda trees. The hedge is gone, and the trees were replaced by a wooden “sculpture” that looks like scaffolding for torture and executions. There is no rhyme or reason to this sculpture, other than to brutalize the senses.

The only redeeming thing about this “redo” is that it did not extend to the condo complex across the streets, which still has its original attractive color scheme.

All in all, this “new and improved” HUB shopping center is an embarrassing blight on Hillcrest.

  • Onion Nominee

  • Project Address:

    1030 University Avenue

    Project Owner/Developer:

    Regency Centers

    Project Architect/Designer:

    Graham Downes, Page Winkler


  • Doug

    This neighborhood Center has been ruined by the remodel! Trees were removed on the Starbucks Patio to make room for a hideous metal sculpture “tree” that provides no shade. The wooden “tables” underneath are not functional and are clearly not used by patrons except when there is no where else to sit. The color palette of the center looks like someone had a flashback to a a bad experience in the 70s. The paint is already deteriorating in several places. This onion nomination is well-deserved!

  • David

    This project was NOT designed by Graham Downes or the firm and his name should be removed. Had he been alive when the project was underway, a very different result would have spawned.

  • Veronica

    This “remodel” looks like it belongs in a 70’s Headshop design. Weird signage, bizarre color combinations & truly horrific murals Inc a giant 3rd Eye at the exit of the pkng structure. This has no connection to the vibrant neighborhood of Hillcrest. Please give us back the quaint Uptown District Shopping Center. Also, what’s up with the large metal container holding large rocks right next to plate glass windows. A shameful blight to a great neighborhood.

  • Zack Nielsen

    This project supported a lot of local artists! No one is going to like every single piece of art work or sculpture, just like you don’t enjoy every painting you see in a museum. The old shopping center was boring and super dated. I’m a fan of the HUB!

  • Caryn

    Out of respect to Graham Downes, who passed and was not able to design this project, please remove all reference to his name. His projects were always well received and he was incredibly respecting in the architectural community. No idea who picked up this project after his passing but have some respect for your fellow architects in our community. I have not lived anywhere where a bunch of architects judged each other in this fashion and then opened it up to the public for a proper lynching. Its really unhealthy.

  • Jerry

    You people should be ashamed of yourself or you’re simply ignorant of the history of the HUB. Graham Downes DID NOT design the HUB. In fact, he lost his life before he could progress the work beyond concept. I’m against this entire Onion prize altogether. Architects have it bad enough without trashing their name. Many times the architect has no input into the final outcome due to VE, cheap clients, etc. Out of respect for Graham, I think you should remove his name from this project. Thank you.

  • Philip Gill

    An entirely inappropriate and downright ugly remodel no matter who did it! And apologies to Graham Downes and his memory for being associated with it. I’m sorry that this is coloring his memory. But now, as for the Uptown Center, the place’s real name, it was originally designed to complement the historic neighborhood of Hillcrest and especially San Diego’s leading Modernist architect Irving Gill. That’s a large part of what made it a great design in the first place. Now it’s ruined by inappropriate neon accent colors on glaring white walls and garish and tasteless murals out of character with Hillcrest. And in the open areas they removed mature shade trees that offered a respite from the sun and heat and replaced them with hideous “sculptures” that don’t belong. The remodel took a shopping center that was key to Hillcrest’s turnaround about two decades ago and turned it into an eyesore. A disgrace!!! Sorry, I know architects and designers sometimes go through rough times, but it’s always best to admit one’s mistakes and learn from them! And this remodel was a mistake!

  • Susan Shepherd

    I agree with others who have commented on the misguided remodel of this shopping center, which I have used since it was built in the 1980’s (?). However, more than the colors, murals, ‘sculptures,’ and updated facades, I find the lack of parking most frustrating. I’m now retired, so am not forced to shop on the weekends, but at almost any time of any, day I’ve noticed a lack of parking. What is the good of updating a commercial ‘Hub’ if shoppers can’t find parking? And it’s only going to get worse as the population of Hillcrest and surrounding areas grows.

  • JMorris

    No one has mentioned the obtrusive and ugly new wooden fence along what should be the main project connection to University – apparently part of some soon-to-be bar. It blocks much of the view corridor to/from the street with a fence that looks like it belongs on a back alley.

  • Paulography

    Heh, I nominated this before seeing this, in the Orchids page. It’s totally a sad little mall now.

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