Alice in San Diego

A few months ago DBRDS hosted our second intern, a delightful 5th year Architecture student named Alice Caillouel from the ENSAN school in France. Alice had been studying on exchange in Scotland to improve her English & while visiting family in La Jolla over the summer break she decided to do some intern work with us. It was really fun to discuss Architecture with Alice, swapping stories of European travels & the wonderful urban experiences. On her first day in our office, we gave Alice a simple walking map & sent her on her way to explore Downtown San Diego, highlighting specific things that we both liked about our Downtown, or felt could be developed to improve it.
We decided to set Alice a simple challenge – select a site downtown that was ‘for sale’ & develop a concept based on your first interpretations of the City. With that brief in mind, Alice set out creatingthe following design for a new tower for San Diego‘s Downtown Skyline – a mixed-use development which was as layered as the City she was visiting. Over her 4 weeks with us, we had many dialogues & discussed many ideas as she developed this idea & we really enjoyed he European ideas.
Here is her description of the project in her own words:
“This project is a tower located in Downtown San Diego. This tower is made up a varied program, including restaurant, parking, offices and housing. My concept emerges from the articulation of these buildings. American cities have a different vision than European. For example in France, the homogenization of the height in the streets are essential rules. While in San Diego this constraint does not exist, giving the street profile variety.
There is an essential verticality that creates the ‘Downtown’ in the American city, but the horizontal is also present in the American city with the long streets, offering surprising vanishing points. The city is organized as a grid. The long straight streets are parallel or perpendicular to each other are a characteristic of these new towns in the United States, giving a very organized in a square plot, as full of small square mosaics juxtaposed to each other.
 My concept was inspired by my feelings for this city after having walked the streets and the project site on my first day. The building is divided into different layers of the public space (in relationship with street), and more we go up on the tower, more it’s a private space. On the top of the restaurant, we have the office space, and after the appartements. The stairs and elevators are voluntarily placed in the center as the spine of the building.  They are the dynamic flow of the building. And they provide natural light. The building takes the whole plot on the first levels. It was not until the appartments that the tower begins playing with different heights, giving it a dynamic profile.
The profile of the tower is determined by small towers of different sizes. These turrets recall first idea between the heights of buildings and the towers random facade design also refers to the American plan of the city as a patchwork of little squares side by side that evolves over time.”
Great concept Alice!

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