Historic Preservation

Southwestern College Master Plan & Historic Campus Demolition

The original Southwestern College campus was designed in 1961 by architect George Foster, in the iconic Mayan Modern style, which speaks to the heritage of the area and much of the student body, in a powerful and iconic way. The Southwestern College master plan takes all of the beautiful buildings that made the campus what it is, and replaces them with trendy garbage that will look outdated in 15 years. The school has a history of neglecting its buildings so the new buildings will probably be run down and ready for replacement in 15 years anyway.

The school has now demolished yet another of these beautiful buildings, the 1966 gym, and replaced it with a depressing new math and science building. SOHO spoke out in advance of this travesty, saying that the Southwestern College master plan “ignores the 1966 gym’s historic and architectural significance, as well as its potential for new uses. Architect George Foster, whose firm Kistner, Curtis and Foster designed the college’s original campus in 1961, created this Mayan-influenced Modernist building in homage to California’s pre-European history. Foster is recognized for developing the Mayan Modern style, which in San Diego can be traced to the 1935 California Pacific International Exposition in Balboa Park. He served as the campus architect until 1973. Southwestern College should be celebrating the legacy and design contributions of George Foster by adapting this unique Mayan Modern style gymnasium for new use.”

One by one, the school is tearing down buildings with a history and culture, historic buildings of beauty, which the soul of the school formed organically inside of and around, and replacing them with cheap tacky information age boxes with random rectangular shapes on the exterior facades. Build a box. Add a rectangle. Add perforated siding. A few more rectangles here and there. Done. Prison-like buildings with no character and the taxpayers have lost millions.

It seems that the school prefers letting students go to school in dilapidated buildings rather than taking care of their buildings. Is this just going to happen again with the terrible new buildings? Southwestern College: stop asking for money for new buildings, start appreciating what you have.

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  • Onion Nominee

  • Project Address:

    900 Otay Lakes Rd., Chula Vista

    Project Owner/Developer:

    Southwestern Community College District

    Project Architect/Designer:

    Master Plan: CW/P & HPI

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