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Found Lofts by Tideland Partners earned an orchid award from the San Diego Architectural Foundation. Photo courtesy of Tideland Partners

An artsy Vista apartment building with a 60-foot-tall mural on an exterior wall and room set aside for an artist-in-residence was a top choice by the San Diego Architectural Foundation as one of the best architectural projects of 2022.

Found Lofts by Tideland Partners received a People’s Choice Orchid award by the Architectural Foundation at the organization’s annual Orchids & Onions competition that honors the best and snubs the worst projects if the year.

Lev Gershman
Founder and Managing Partner
Tideland Partners

“We created Found Lofts in partnership with the City of Vista and the community to embody the foundational values of the arts and bring people together,” said Lev Gershman, founder and managing partner of Tidelands Partners.

With 42 apartments at 516 S. Santa Fe Ave. Found Lofts is a central element of what Vista has designated as its Arts District downtown.

“Vista’s Art District existed only in name before this building,” Architectural Foundation judges said in awarding Found Lofts an orchid.

The judges said the development was “a visionary project that required a visionary developer.”

“The art incorporated in the building is amazing and the attention to detail and quality are easily noticed,” the judges wrote, adding that “the architecture is amazing, the mural is stunning.”

The mural by Dutch artist Joram Roukes has an alpinist as its central figure and features images relating to the San Luis Rey Band of Mission Indians, including a coyote’s head and a frog illustrating a tribal parable.

Neighborhood Oriented

Also winning People’s Choice orchid awards were Alexandria Gradlabs designed by DGA architects and developed by Alexandria Real Estate Equities at 9880 Campus Point Drive, a five-story life-science building that includes colorful murals celebrating marine lie and local Noble laureates along with 22 pieces of art by local artists.

Cantilevered wrap-around walkways promote engagement with the outdoors and interaction among people who work in the building.

“It’s rethinking the whole concept of a laboratory building and what the potential for that is. It’s just not about the laboratory building but it’s about the people that work in them – how they collaborate and meet and how ideas are debated,” the judges wrote.

A National City project designed by Miller Hull Partnership and developed by Protea Properties and Andrew Malick was the third project honored with an orchid for architecture.

Parco at 800 B Ave. has 127 apartments in a mix of townhomes and flats meant for middle income tenants along with 6,378 square feet of retail space, 4,054 square feet of office space and 29,233 square feet of parking.

The building is a  mix that includes an eight-story tower, an adjacent four-story building with the project stepping down to blend in with an adjacent residential neighborhood.

Meant to serve as a catalyst for additional development in National City’s downtown, Parco was praised by judges for being “very neighborhood oriented” with “very human scale.”

“Parco is very distinctive as a solution for San Diego’s housing crisis. It has a really good pedestrian environment,” the judges wrote. “The commercial area along the main street is on the right place. It invites people to walk and be in touch with the neighborhood. It’s not a building that screams, it’s not shouting for attention, which you see everywhere. It’s doing the right thing, and for that it gets attention.”

Jurors for the 2022 Orchids & Onions awards were J. Kevin Heinly of Gensler, Chip Impastato of Studio Outside, Barbara Leon of Heleo Architecture & Design, Melody Lock of Affirmed Housing, artist Irma Sofia Poeter, Taal Safdie of Safdie Rabines Architects, and Diego Velasco of Citythinkers.