Architecture of San Diego: Best Building That Represent The Beautiful Town

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The architecture of space speaks of its time and the place in terms of cultures and histories but is also a symbol for timelessness. It stands through the passing time and articulates a history through its walls. These architectural marvels yearn for the idea of timelessness as mentioned by Frank Gehry. For a tourist, the architecture of the place that they are visiting seldom becomes a primary point of reference. San Diego is one such space famous for its glorious Victorian, Modern, Renaissance and Mission architecture. Influenced with Mexican and Spanish culture, San Diego is a hub for artists and aesthetics, and the aestheticism and cultural influence can easily be witnessed through its architecture. Here is the list of ten of the best structures that represent the architecture in San Diego for you to visit and perceive the cultural palette of the place and its histories.  

1. Salk Institute

Salk Institute
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Address: Salk Institute, 10010 N Torrey Pines Road, La Jolla, California, United States of America
Type: Research Institute
Business hours: 8:00 Am to 5:30 Pm
Working days: Monday to Friday
Tip: make an online reservation for the tour
A scientific research institute in the La Jolla community of San Diego, Salk Institute for Biological Studies is an architectural landmark designed by Louis Kahn. These 27 acres of area is bounded with open space symbolising the open environment for creation as it descends into three clusters of campus. The laboratory cluster with two blocks of symmetrical buildings remains the defining and the most photographed part of the entire architecture with a thin and linear water fountain that reaches for the horizon of the ocean while separating the two. Visit the basement to see the architectural wall with multiple colour patterns which otherwise remains dominated with a concrete finish. The courtyard is another small addition to the magnificent architecture with dwarf Valencia orange trees planted in an orderly and grove style. The winner of the 25-year award from the American Institute of Architecture, the institute was built by Kahn in a manner that would potentially attract Picasso and therefore must be visited by tourists with a taste for aestheticism. 

2. Geisel Library

Geisel Library
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Located at the centre of University of California, San Diego, the Geisel library stands as a blend of brutalist and futurist architecture as it appears as minimalist as well as flamboyant with long dynamic lined construction. The 8 storied building form stepped levels to make it look like hands are holding a pile of books around the base tower to house more than six million collections. The concrete architecture with geometrical form remains full of artworks like a granite Paradise lost and the bronze statue of its initiators on the forum level. Other than the granite architecture inscribed with a popular line from the epic poem, you must walk along another architectural attraction called the 560-foot snake path constructed with slate tiles towards the library entrance. The library entrance is also decorated with the artwork designed with coloured glasses. The architectural brilliance, the library features on the logo of the university.

3. California Temple

San Diego California Temple
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Tip: Visit during Christmas to witness a dreamy light decoration.
Constructed with white marbles and plaster finish, the William S. Lewis. Jr.’s San Diego temple is an aesthetic architecture situated near the La Jolla community of San Diego. With two main pinnacles, the symmetrical architecture of the temple attracts visitors towards the white glowing walls reflecting golden sun rays during day time. The architecture during the night becomes a radiant marble house with a brilliant interior in the middle of a green meadow. Look closely to find the statues of prophet Moroni sitting atop the pinnacles of this 7.2 acres of vivid architecture. Visit the place to capture the majestic architecture in your cameras as the temple remains closed for non-Mormons. 

4. Tor Kaelan 

Open Architecture of Tor Kaelan
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The five-story and solar equipped architecture designed by Rob Quigley is defined by its open balconies and a sweeping interior that aims to promote a ‘conversation’ with the streets for its creative tenants. Housing two town residences and offices, the heart of this brilliant architecture lie in its central courtyard which remains decorated with golden paints. The concrete walls of this mix-use buildings to reflect the bright sunlight of San Diego through the gaps in the form of dribbling plaster. Visit the place to witness the artistic and modern architecture sited in the revamping inner-city neighbourhood of San Diego.

5. Price Centre

Price Centre
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Winner of multiple architectural awards like American Architecture Award and Honour Award, the Price Centre is a student centre housed by the San Diego campus of the University of California. It aids more than 30,000 visitors every day inside its giant premise lining fast-food restaurants, bookstores and movie theatres – places that serve as a hub among students. Equipped with art installations like the 74-foot-long mural on the western wall of the central atrium and the Black Legacy mural, the liberating and empowering architecture consists of four floors and must be visited during the trip to San Diego. 

6. San Diego Central Library

San Diego Central Library
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Timings: Monday to Saturday: 9:30 Am to 1:00 Pm 2:00 Am to 5:30 Pm, Closed on Sunday
Recipient of the National Award for Excellence in Structural Engineering, this is the main branch of San Diego public library designed by Rob Quigley. The steel and mesh dome umbrella over the architecture remains a point of attraction for the visitors. Housing a school on the sixth and seventh floor, the library is equipped with an auditorium, open terrace and a wall constructed entirely with discarded books. The sinks are moulded in a book-like shape and contribute to the general aura of the architecture. 

7. California Tower

California Tower
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Tickets for guided tours: $ 22.50 for adults and $ 18 for children
California tower is among the iconic historical sites of San Diego with Spanish architectural design and Mexican detailed colours. The tower along with the California building houses the Museum of Us. With three levels, the tower is composed of a lower quadrangle, a middle octagon and a circle on top. The Spanish colonial architecture from its eighth floor promises a majestic view of San Diego from the Pacific Ocean to Cuyamaca mountains. Take a guided tour with timed tickets to enjoy a 40-minute climb through an informing session describing the cultures and histories of communities housed by San Diego. The carillon’s music can be heard from across the Balboa park attracting the visitors, making it a must-visit architectural beauty. 

8. San Diego – Coronado Bridge

San Diego - Coronado Bridge
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Commonly known as Coronado Bridge this architectural beauty is constructed over the San Diego Bay to link Coronado with San Diego. The steel and concrete bridge signing state route 75 has pillars with Chicano murals and it also provides a panoramic view of the city. Stand across the road to catch a magnificent view of the architecture especially during night-time when the lights decorate this 5-lane bridge and its reflection on the water magnifies its aesthetic appeal. It is illegal to pull over on the bridge but you can drive through it slowly to take in the scenic glimpse of water surrounding the city.

9. Hotel Del Coronado

Hotel Del Coronado
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A Historic beachfront hotel across the San Diego Bay, Hotel Del Coronado popularly called as Hotel Del is a wooden Victorian designed resort. It remains a California Historical Landmark since its designation in 1970. The rotunda, the crown room and the lobby of the hotel stand as the attraction points for its visitors. Featured in multiple film shots, the hotel is an architectural masterpiece with dragon trees and palm trees lining its path bulging towards the clean beaches. Plan your visit to San Diego to either enjoy a luxurious stay in the hotel or to witness its enormous Victorian architecture across the background of clear ocean skies of San Diego.

10. Casa De Balboa

Casa De Balboa
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Situated in the Balboa park of San Diego, the Casa De Balboa encompasses the Museum of Photographic Arts, San Diego History Centre and the Balboa Art Conservation Centre inside its ornamented walls. Serving as an entrance to these places, the Casa seems like an arch with detailed towers. The Spanish Renaissance architecture with extensive style contains caryatids and other eclectic elements engraved on its white concrete towers making it a breath-taking view for the visitors under the clear skies of San Diego. Take an Architectural Heritage tour organised monthly by the park to understand the nuances of this glorious and traditional architecture. 

Explore through any of these heritage and modern walls when you are in America's finest city to click some amazing photographs and to enjoy an enlightening cultural exposure into the rich history of the city. Some of the places carry a discrete aesthetic appeal when lit with decorative lights at night. So, plan your visit per the time as well as the holiday seasons to witness an exceptionally beautiful sight on your visit.

This post was published by Aditi Shree

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