These stunning buildings are beyond amazing!
San Diego is a sprawling city with so much to see and enjoy. One of our favorite aspects of America’s Finest City is the stunning and diverse architecture! You’ll find beautiful Spanish buildings to unique Brutalist structures. With so much to see, we put together a list of our 10 favorite architectural landmarks in and around San Diego!
The Salk Institute is truly inspiring! The architect responsible for this stunning piece of architecture is Louis Kahn. Kahn created a space that harmonizes entirely with its oceanside location. The materials used were chosen to deal with the natural environment. Some have compared this sleek work to a modern-day monastery. Salk’s design is so highly regarded that in 1992 it received a 25-Year Award from the American Institute of Architects. It was also featured in the AIA exhibit, “Structures of Our Time: 31 Buildings That Changed Modern Life.” You can take in its splendor by making an online reservation for a self-guided or a docent-led tour from 8 am to 5:30 pm, Monday through Friday.
Location: 10010 N Torrey Pines Rd, La Jolla, CA 92037
Casa del Prado is probably one of the most stunning and recognizable buildings in San Diego. It was built in 1915 for the Panama-California Exposition in Balboa Park, introducing the Spanish Colonial Revival architecture to SoCal. This part of San Diego’s history might be so well known that we may overlook how truly stunning it is! There are so many intricate details throughout, like the caryatids. These are the weight-bearing features that are carved as human figures on the Casa de Balboa and the tower at Casa Del Prado. The park hosts monthly architectural tours where you’ll learn more about this marvel.
Location: San Diego, CA 92101
You can thank architect William Pereira for this aesthetic and striking 1970s San Diego landmark. Pereira also created San Francisco’s Transamerica Building! This 1968 Brutalist building is open from 7:30 am-10 pm on weekdays and 10 am-10 pm on weekends. The Geisel Library is the main library building of the University of California. It is named in honor of Audrey and Theodor Seuss Geisel. That’s right, the one and only Dr. Seuss!
Location: 9500 Gilman Dr, La Jolla, CA 92093
William S. Lewis designed the Jr.’s San Diego temple in 1993. To us, it looks like a mix of 14th-century architecture and an extravagant 80s wedding cake! Its marble chips in plaster finish give it a snow-white look! The shadows along its sharp angles almost make it look like a 2D piece of art. Though this is a place of worship, non-Mormons are not allowed inside. However, you can freely take in the exterior views and snap a photo from the street.
Location: 7474 Charmant Dr, San Diego, CA 92122
The stunning San Diego Central Library is as unique as it is eye-catching. San Diego architect Rob Quigley designed this literary safe haven, which opened in 2013. Its dome top sort of looks like a hat to us! To fully take in this fantastic building, we recommend you start on the south side of the intersection of Park Boulevard and 11th Avenue and then walk around.
Location: 330 Park Blvd, San Diego, CA 92101
The Superior Court in San Diego may not be the tallest building in the city. Yet, thanks to its grand design and 22 stories, it is a beacon of architecture. The civic building was finished in 2017 and designed by Javier Arizmendi of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP. The building has a strong but accommodating presence, thanks to a style that integrates formality with a welcoming interior. The shaped aluminum panels reflect the beautiful and unique San Diego light!
Location: 330 W Broadway, San Diego, CA 92101
7. Torr Kaelan
This stunning five-story is on the smaller side of the buildings on this list, but it defiantly makes up with innovation and design! The zero-energy mixed-use structure was designed by San Diego architect Rob Quigley and built in 2015. Its white brick exterior and sharp angular windows create a fantastic contrast. The interior is always filled with San Diego’s bright sunlight during the day. It transforms at night when the interior lighting highlights its fantastic facade.
Location: 416 13th St, San Diego, CA 92101-7505
Point Loma Nazarene University’s (PLNU) new science building is a contemporary state-of-the-art feat of architecture. It was designed by Carrier Johnson + CULTURE and completed in 2017. The whole complex is beautiful but what really stands out to us are the perforated panels which line in a curve and beautifully contrast the sharp and clean lines of the building. As you make your way upstairs, you’ll be taken back by the gorgeous La Jolla views from the terrace.
Location: Lomaland Dr, San Diego, CA 92106
The San Diego Convention Center is near and dear to San Diegans’ hearts as it regularly holds fantastic events. From worldwide phenomenons like Comic Cons to niche smaller scale events, you’ve likely walked its halls. However, the design of this building is remarkable in its own right. Canadien architect Arthur Erickson drew inspiration from the nearby waterfront location. You can see this through the structure’s composition, which looks like beautiful, futuristic sails. The center was built in 1989 and is known as downtown’s first major piece of architectural genius!
Location: 111 W Harbor Dr, San Diego, CA 92101
10. Spruce Street Suspension Bridge
The Spruce Street Suspension Bridge is a beloved piece of San Diegan architecture! This historical footbridge was built back in 1912. Though some consider it a “hidden gem,” it’s a part of others’ daily commute. It’s a fantastic spot to enjoy beautiful views of the serene valley 70 feet below! The 375 feet long structure is supported by cables embedded in massive concrete slabs beneath the soil. The bridge does swing slightly on especially windy days, so don’t get scared!
Location: W Spruce St, San Diego, CA 92103
Featured image: by Maytikka, Salk Institute in San Diego