Waterfront Park Wins Urban Planning Orchid

The County’s new Waterfront Park is blooming with pride, after taking home an Orchid for Urban Planning Thursday night at the San Diego Architectural Foundation’s Orchids & Onions awards program. The annual awards note hits and misses in local building, landscaping and urban design.

The 12-acre park, which opened in May, was transformed from parking lot to what the nomination calls the most significant waterfront open space in downtown, featuring two large fountains, sprawling lawns and dynamic playground equipment.

“As a former architect, having the Waterfront Park recognized by the design community is especially gratifying,” said Supervisor Ron Roberts. “San Diegans have been coming to the park in droves, with children of all ages playing in the fountains. We have given the people back 12 acres of their waterfront, and I can’t wait to see what they do with it next.”

The Orchids & Onions judges commended the County “for recognizing that a lush park-scape is a far superior welcome to our city than a parking lot.”

The park features green space on the entire western side of the park with room for 3,900 on the north lawn and 2,900 on the south lawn. The most notable feature is the expansive 830-foot-long fountain, which runs the length of the park and has jets that shoot water 14 feet into the air. The fountain’s basins create a one-inch deep play area for children of all ages.

The project, which was a dream for many years, cost $49.4 million and was completed on time and on budget 19 months after constructions started. The park has drawn large crowds since Opening Day and regularly hosts movies in the park, concerts, weddings, parties, picnics and other events.

Of the some 135 projects nominated for Orchids and Onions, 12 were awarded orchids, six onions and two “planted bulbs” that it’s too early to tell if they will turn up roses or not.

The County recently began several improvements to the fountains on the building’s north side, and they are temporarily closed. The fountains on the south side remain open, but they will later also close for the same work.

Michelle Mowad is a communications specialist with the County of San Diego Communications Office. Contact