Houston developer Hines has withdrawn from the two-team competition for the San Diego Civic Center, which would include a new city hall and several other buildings. That leaves the team of Gerding Edlen Development and Zimmer Gunsul Frasca as the only new-construction option.
The announcement of Hines' dropout doesn't, however, guarantee Gerding and ZGF (their proposal is pictured here) the job. There are several additional proposals put together by a consultant to the city that would upgrade existing leased facilities or move these governmental facilities out of the central city. But that same consulting firm also reported that both the new construction plans from finalists Gerding and Hines plans would save the city more money in the long run. Even though Gerding's proposal was much more ambitious than Hines', it was actually found to be more economical and save more money. That seems to be why Hines dropped out.
If the Portland team gets the go-ahead from San Diego's city council in November, that will mean our city's premier big developer and architecture firm will be creating a landmark city hall for the heart of one of the 10 biggest cities in America.
Hey San Diego City Council: just in case any of you honorable people are listening, this is a no-brainer. Hmm, let's see: a huge new multi-block city hall and mixed-use development, all ultra-green, or more upkeep to shabby old buildings the city is leasing, which would actually cost more in the long run then spanking new architectuer that re-invigorates and redefines the central heart of the city. What is there even to deliberate about?
San Diego is already a very nice and livable city, one of the two nicest in California along with San Francisco. With Gerding and ZGF they would be getting a quintessential Portland design expertise: making successful urban spaces. I'd rather have a multi-block area that's pleasant on the ground level than some Koolhaas or Ghery confection by itself. Even so, I like the look of the 34-story city hall tower ZGF is proposing a lot.
And as for the San Diego-Oregon connection that could be happening: It worked with the great Dan Fouts, didn't it? One of the top Duck footballers of all time was a Hall of Famer for the Chargers. (Probably the top player in their franchise's history before Ladanian Tomlinson.)
This would also be another feather in ZGF's cap, which like the USA basketball team you could possibly give the nickname of "Redeem Team". This was never a bad firm, but their work is much better now (or at least better looking) than a decade ago. I'm told that Gene Sandoval and Braulio Baptista in the Portland office are leading the charge along with ZGF's
San Diego Los Angeles office, particularly partner-in-charge Doss Mabe. (What a cool name, by the way. Doss Mabe sounds like a character from an old-school Hollywood western.)
I've written about Gene several times before; he was in my Oregonian list of the top 10 people on the Portland architecture scene a couple months ago. (He's pictured at left in a shot by Motoya Nakamura of The Oregonian.) But Braulio is a real talent as well. And they make a very good match for Gerding Edlen, whether it's on this San Diego project or here in Portland.