2023 nominations are now open! Please read our nomination rules and complete the form below to submit your Orchids and Onions.

2023 Nomination Rules

  1. Nominations for the 2023 Orchids & Onions program close at midnight July 28, 2023; no exceptions. 
  2. You may nominate as many projects as you wish.
  3.  Projects must be located within San Diego County and should have been completed since January 2020. Past winners within the same category are not eligible.
  4. Onion nominations are welcomed in all categories, but awards will only be given for public projects. The jury reserves the right to award an Onion for a trend exemplified by one or more Onion nominations.
  5. Unbuilt projects are not eligible but public or private master plans may be nominated.
  6. The jury reserves the right to name no winners in any category or to move a nomination from one category to another.
  7. Orchid and Onion awards go to the projects, not to the designers, developers or other individuals, firms, or organizations.
  8. Nomination descriptions should be respectful, honest, factual and complete within a 200-word maximum. They will be fact-checked prior to publication online and returned to the nominator if more information is required.
  9. Digital photos totaling no more than 8MB must be included with each nomination. Nominators are encouraged to submit their own photos. Do not submit a photo downloaded from the internet without the copyright holder’s permission. A completed photo release form must accompany the nomination.
  10. 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. Renderings or drawings of completed projects are not acceptable.
  11. Please be patient, once your nomination is submitted, we will fact-check before posting.
  12. Please keep your nominations and your comments respectful; mind yourself!

You may submit projects in the following categories:

  • Public Architecture – Civic / Commercial / Institutional
  • Private Architecture – Mixed-Use, Multi-family (10+ units), Infill Housing (2-9 units), ADUs (not Single-family houses)
  • Historic Preservation & Adaptation
  • Interior Design
  • Landscape Architecture
  • Public Policies (may be any level of policy proposal, ie. Federal, State, City or Community Plan)
  • Public Art
  • Architectural Light &/or Environmental Graphics
  • Miscellaneous (something related to the built environment that is not listed above)

To be eligible, a project:

  • Must be located in San Diego County
  • Must not be a single-family residence. Multi-family projects (2+ 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
  • Promotes sustainability 


  • The opposite of an Orchid (see orchid qualities above) 
  • A missed opportunity 
  • A blight or eyesore that shows a lack of commitment to quality design and our community
  • An example of poor construction methods
  • Ignores neighborhood and community context

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!



Submit your nomination

Max 200 characters:

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.

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Permission to use images

I certify am the copyright owner of the images/video/content that I am providing to you, San Diego Architectural Foundation, or I have permission from the copyright owner of the images/video/content to provide them to you, for publication in distribution platforms and channels affiliated with you. I grant you permission to use any and all images/video/content for photos I supplied for the Orchids and Onions program and I do hereby grant you that right and agree to defend and indemnify you for any and all costs (including reasonable attorneys' fees) associated with a demand or lawsuit arising out of your publication(s) of any such images/video/content on any distribution platforms affiliated with you.