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OH! San Diego offers free, behind-the-scenes access to San Diego’s unique architectural and cultural gems through virtual, self-guided and socially distanced activities

Source: San Diego Architectural Foundation


March 4, 2021 (San Diego’s East County) -- The San Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF) announces the sixth annual Open House San Diego (O  H! San Diego) architecture and urban design event taking place on March 5 through 12. The program offers San Diegans a rare behind-the-scenes look at some of our region’s most impactful buildings and public spaces and encourages participants to discover something new.


In the spirit of inclusivity and a renewed focus on community, this year’s event will highlight a diverse mix of seven neighborhoods including Barrio Logan, Chula Vista, City Heights, La Mesa, National City, San Marcos and Southeastern San Diego.


Participants are invited to take part in a self-guided walking tour of La Mesa Village via the ArchiMaps app. Participants can also download and print a PDF Walking Map from the OH! San Diego website. 

Participants in this year’s event will be invited to take part in a series of activities offering an exploration of each neighborhood’s history, public spaces, and behind-the-scenes views of architecturally and socially significant developments both existing and yet to come. OH! San Diego will offer a range of participation options including self-guided tours, socially distanced outdoor experiences, virtual tours, and panel discussions. 

The event is open to people of all backgrounds and ages and will feature a youth-focused exploration of design and architecture in association with the Jacobs Center for Neighborhood Innovation, as well as SDAF’s Built Environment Education Program (BEEP), which educates and advocates for school-age youth as meaningful participants, leaders and decision makers in crafting our built environment.


OH! San Diego is a cornerstone of the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s mission to inspire San Diegans to discover the value of design in the built environment, and how it affects our quality of life.


As we have been spending more time closer to home, our neighborhoods have become all the more vital to us. At the same time, we are experiencing a renewed focus on equity, diversity and inclusion. As a reflection of these experiences, this year’s event will expand beyond its traditional borders and encourage San Diegans to explore and appreciate a more diverse and culturally rich mix of communities.


SDAF selected each OH! San Diego site for its positive impact on the community, cultural and historical significance, innovative use of public spaces, and mindful new development and its ability to foster community.




To participate, visit h ttps:// for a preview of what’s coming. Full details on how to participate will be released here and via the app, ArchiMaps.


Participants can explore on their own (both virtually and in-person) March 6-7 with additional programming including virtual panels and presentations taking place beginning on March 3 and continuing through March 12. Please note that due to COVID-19 health guidelines, sites will not be open in the same way as previous years. Please comply with individual site access guidelines.


Participation options include:


  • Self-guided tours: Available via ArchiMaps or via downloadable and printable PDF maps on website. These tours will guide participants to award-winning architecture, historical points of interest, public art, parks and community gardens, new developments underway, and the hidden gems that distinguish each neighborhood.
  • Behind-the-Scenes Videos and Virtual Tours: Available starting March 3, SDAF will offer participants a range of videos and virtual tours across the seven neighborhoods, with highlights including a virtual tour of the Ocean Discovery Institute in City Heights featuring architect Rob Wellington Quigley, a virtual hard-hat tour of an innovative mixed use development under construction in National City, a walking tour exploring the history of downtown La Mesa with a view to the present, and a behind-the-scenes look at Chula Vista Fire Station No. 10 at Millenia.
  • Educational videos: Participants are invited to learn something new, including an educational video on architectural photography
  • Socially Distanced Outdoor Experiences: County health guidelines permitting, OH! San Diego activities may include tour experiences of community gardens, an opportunity to watch artists in action, outdoor exhibitions and more.
  • Kid and family activities: BEEP and KidSketch will offer architect- guided tutorials on how to sketch architecturally significant Open House sites such as the Lincoln Acres Library, National City Aquatic Center, Ocean Discovery Institute and the Chula Vista Library South Branch. Kids and adults can also join a ‘Design Your Future’ panel hosted by the Jacobs Center, featuring architecture, engineering and construction professionals talking about design careers in the built environment. Finally, Woodbury University, NewSchool of Architecture and Design and AIAS (American Institute of Architecture Students) will host an after-sunset outdoor art installation experience featuring student work on the theme of Design and Community.


While exploring these communities during OH! San Diego, participants are asked to please wear a face covering, maintain at least six feet of distance from others and do not attempt to enter any buildings unless they are otherwise open to the public.


Anne Militante, Co-Chair of OH! San Diego commented, “OH! San Diego is an opportunity for San Diegans to uncover hidden gems across our city. From points of architectural and historical interest, to sites that hold unique cultural significance in our lives and communities – this year’s event aims to encourage San Diegans to explore and discover the beauty of our diverse region.


“San Diego is evolving and growing, and this year’s program aims to share a view of our city that many may not have seen before. We invite people of all ages and backgrounds to explore the diversity, design and culture in the seven neighborhoods featured in this year’s program. Whether it’s a behind-the- scenes view of award-winning architecture, touring a community garden, or watching an art mural come to life before your eyes, we hope participants will be inspired by the amazingly powerful ways design both shapes and reflects our diverse communities.”


The S an Diego Architectural Foundation (SDAF) is a 501c3 nonprofit organization with the mission to educate and promote outstanding architecture, landscape, interior, and urban design to improve the quality of life for all San Diegans. SDAF sponsors public programs throughout the year, including youth programs, architectural tours and social events.


About Open House


OH! San Diego is a program of the San Diego Architectural Foundation and is a free, annual public showcase that promotes appreciate of San Diego’s urban environment through behind-the-scenes access to and information about buildings and public spaces in San Diego neighborhoods. OH! San Diego was founded in 2015 by Susanne Friestedt, a native San Diegan and Point Loma resident, as her way of giving back to her hometown in a meaningful, lasting way.


OH! San Diego is one of just four cities in the United States to be recognized as an Open House Worldwide (OHWW, city. OHWW was founded in London over 25 years ago and has grown to 46 cities across the globe. OHWW is the world’s largest organization dedicated to educating and engaging the public about the best in urban design, architecture, and the critical challenges facing our cities.


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