Efforts to Save San Diego's Horton Plaza


Michele Racioppi


Docomomo US staff

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Late last year, Docomomo US was made aware of a significant threat to redevelop San Diego's Horton Plaza. A group of stakeholders, including Docomomo, architects who worked on the original project, architectural historians, and preservation professionals, quickly came together to advocate for this unique representative of our recent past. 

Horton Plaza opened in 1985 to much fanfare. The postmodern complex, designed by "experiential architect" Jon Jerde with supergraphics by Deborah Sussman and Paul Prejza, was billed as a way to revitalize the downtown Gaslamp Quarter. The effort appeared to be successful, drawing over 30 million visitors in its first year, propelling the careers of the designers, and redefining the concept of the American shopping mall.

Owned by Westfield Corporation since the late 1990s, the shopping center has had ups and downs, relating to both the changing retail landscape and Westfield's ongoing indecision over investing in renovations at the site. In 2018, Stockdale Capital Partners purchased the property and announced plans to develop it into an office park and tech campus. The new layout called for an overhaul of the site that would strip it of its orignal detail and design intent.

Preservation advocates, including Docomomo US, have come out in strong support of retaining the site's unique postmodern elements, writing letters and urging the new owner, Civic San Deigo, the local economic development entity, and the San Diego Historical Resources Board to evaluate the project further and consider its historic significance.

Docomomo US will continue to follow this story and will share any future opportunities for the public to speak out on the issue. 

Docomomo US Letter of Support for Horton Plaza

"Should Horton Plaza be Preserved?" San Diego Union Tribune, December 16, 2018.