Nomination Rules

Your nomination must have been received by the deadline to be considered for the Orchids & Onions program.

Nominating Orchids & Onions: what you need to know.

  1. You may nominate as many projects as you wish.
  2. Orchids & Onions will now accept nominations for civic-based master plans currently in development. Projects currently under construction do not qualify for any award. Please nominate under the “Miscellaneous” category.
  3. Collect as much information as possible about the project you are nominating. We need the facts before your submission can be published.
  4. Nominations cannot be posted without accompanying photos, so take your camera for a walk and capture a few photos that illustrate the reason(s) for your nomination. We do not accept renderings or sketches of built & completed projects.
  5. Please be patient, once your nomination is submitted, we will fact-check before posting.
  6. Please keep your nominations and your comments respectful; mind yourself!
  7. We are looking for honest critiques about why nominations should be considered for O&O awards. An off-hand one liner about why you think a project is ugly or beautiful simply won’t cut it. Please provide valid arguments for your nominations. We will follow up with nominators if we think more information is required for a nomination. All excerpts will be limited to 200 words.
  8. Submission of digital photos with the nomination is required. Please do not submit copyrighted materials.
  9. All nominations must be received by June 30, 2021.

You may submit projects in the following categories:

  • Architecture
  • Historic Preservation
  • Interior Design
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Miscellaneous (including public art, architectural lighting, architectural graphics and anything else that doesn’t fall directly into one of the above-listed categories)

To be eligible, a project:

  • Must be located in San Diego County
  • Must not be a single-family residence. Multi-family projects (4+ units minimum) are accepted.
  • Must be completed, and been so within the last 3 years
  • May be a rehabilitated building or structure

What Makes a Project an Orchid or an Onion?

Making San Diego an even better place then it already is by designing and building inspiring spaces and places, starts with thinking about the elements of design. Here are the criteria that are used to evaluate projects. 


  • Exemplifies good place making, i.e. it is a functional and memorable place or space to be
  • Contributes to its surrounding context and adds to community character
  • Skillfully and thoughtfully detailed and crafted – showing respect for materials and the community
  • Expresses something relevant to our time and place – San Diego, right now, as well as its function
  • Provides social and economic benefit to San Diegans
  • Encourages social interaction or a quiet moment
  • Elicits a sense of civic pride
  • Is technologically or environmentally innovative
  • Supports community building


  • The opposite of an Orchid
  • A missed opportunity 
  • A blight or eyesore that shows a lack of commitment to quality design and our community

Your Nomination

After submission, nominations with photos will be reviewed by the committee (please allow at least 72 hours) for accuracy and will be posted on the website for all site visitors to view and comment on. The nominator remains anonymous. Check back in regularly to see what projects are most talked about! Comment on and share your favorite nominations!

Public Comments 

Please remember to keep comments respectful. Abuse, personal attacks, or threats will not be tolerated under any circumstances. Orchids and Onions/the San Diego Architectural Foundation is entitled to fully or partially edit or remove any post, and apply restrictive measures on participants.

Contact Us

Contact Us



P.O. Box 122228
San Diego, CA 92112-2228
Federal Tax ID: 95-3513927

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Orchids & Onions is an educational and fundraising program of the San Diego Architectural Foundation, a 501(c)3, nonprofit organization dedicated to education and the promotion of outstanding architecture, planning and urban design throughout the San Diego region.

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