Zaha Hadid is Coming to San Diego

Courtesy of

Planning Commission has approved Zaha Hadid’s La Jolla Residence. Along with the San Diego firm Public, Hadid will demolish an existing house on a half-acre site at 8490 Whale Watch Way, replacing it with a 12,700 square foot home comprised of four bedrooms, six bathrooms, and an indoor pool. The firm has described the home as an “introverted sculptural structure.”

The La Jolla Community Planning Association responded to unsupportive neighbors by appealing the owners’ application for a Coastal Development permit. Residents were concerned by the radical appearance in comparison to the rest of the neighborhood homes. Association member Dale Naegle stated, “If we approve this we might as well abandon our La Jolla Shores Planned District Ordinance…It is a beautiful house, but it doesn’t fit.”

The project still risks being appealed again by the La Jolla Community Planning Association. If that were to occur, the project would then be in the hands of the much more challenging city council.

Reference: The Architect’s Newspaper

Cite: Rosenfield, Karissa. "Zaha Hadid is Coming to San Diego" 07 Nov 2011. ArchDaily. Accessed 23 Sep 2014. <>


  1. Thumb up Thumb down +3


    Zaha’s trying to force-feed San Diego Republicans a decently designed house.


    They don’t deserve her work.

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      More like shes trying to force feed them a sculptural obsession and software fad manifested as an im sure 20,000,000$ endeavor. I’m glad someone stood up for their hometown- Hadid has no ideas about what makes a ‘place’ special. She would rather just drop a million dollar turd made of porcelain wherever she can. It horrifies me to think of her rationalizing her projects as being something ‘appropriate for this place rather than that place.’ They are placeless forms.

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        I love when people critisize what they themselves will never be able to accomplish. Everyone knows of Zaha because she is good at what she does. That’s probably the reason you know of her. She doesn’t know of you because you’re not even note worthy.

      • Thumb up Thumb down +1

        Steve, I have to agree with Paul on this one. Many people can easily design like Zaha Hadid. More so, what is commendable is Zaha’s idolized status. Many young designers try to emulate her. It is a pity that her work is so meaningless. It seems that architecture has become a bad joke when people desperately claim Zaha’s genius. I do think it is a fallacy to say that someone is popular strictly because they are good at what they do; on the same token many negative reasons contribute to one’s popularity. It gets complicated when people cannot distinguish what those reasons are. Dont get me wrong, Im sure she is a very nice lady. If you want to have an opinion then you must think things through. If you take some time and think it over you will probably conclude that Zaha’s work and anything of the like is fundamentally not good. The neighbors of this proposed project have made themselves explicitly clear, they do not want it there! What more of a testament do you need? Paul, you are absolutely right, the form is placeless. It would quickly degrade the community, stripping away any sort of personality that the community may have. This sort of work is based in vanity and holds no beauty in the eyes of any beholder (especially in 10 or so years) other than the eyes of Zaha herself. Do understand that I am not making an argument in favor of suburban practices, that is another issue all together. Many people would do well to remember that architects are not gods, they are not supreme intelectual artistic interpreters, they are people whos job it is to design environments that people might want to enjoy. Get off the title-wave of intellectualism, you are going to drown everyone.

      • Thumb up Thumb down +1

        Paul, like many others at this site, has forgotten the phrase: “In my opinion…”

    • Thumb up Thumb down -1

      while i appreciate a handful of her projects, this one looks like it was designed by one of her interns. the project is on whale watch way and looks like a whale’s tail. come on man, how about spending a little more time developing a quality design that sings with the site. it reminds of cheesy literal projects that first year drop-outs would design in design school. if this client likes sculptural architecture, they should have tried wallace cunningham; a local architect with a portfolio of quality designs in san diego.

    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      Sorry, it is the kooky tree-hugging left that is opposing this project…….art loving conservatives believe in property rights!

      • Thumb up Thumb down 0

        Any architect that uses the term “tree-hugging” should have their licensed revoked and be shipped back to Ronald Reagan’s 1980′s when people thought obscene waste was a good thing.


    • Thumb up Thumb down 0

      ‘Get [you] wrong’? You mean by inferring from your critique of the architect’s work that you believe she could be anything other than a ‘lady’, or that she might even be an unpleasant individual?

      Far from making any such inferences, this reader preferred not to ruminate long enough to be aware of [you]

  2. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    “Residents were concerned by the radical appearance in comparison to the rest of the neighborhood homes.”

    This says alot about the impotent state of American architecture. Im not a big Hadid fan, but I even less of a fan of suburban zoning and appearance politics.

    • Thumb up Thumb down -1

      I’m sorry, but I have to agree with the comment about the quality of Hadid’s forms. She has no idea about form and how it relates to a specific site. Come on, what does that picture even mean!? What about that project says ‘desert’ for you?

      On a side note, the rendering is horrendous. For a high-quality graphics-based firm, I shouldn’t even be talking about the rendering quality, but this is just some half-assed rendering that one of her interns came up with. It’s painfully obvious that they spent almost no time on this rendering, which doesn’t even look as if it is attached to the ground.

      On another note, I’m disappointed that Hadid is so ignorant of sustainability in her projects. She demolishes the existing house, has an indoor swimming pool (rather than an outdoor one, and I’m not sure what kind of space-age material she’s using for her building skin.

      Just another swing-and-a-miss for Zaha Hadid, in my opinion.

    • Thumb up Thumb down +1

      The sad thing is that these ignorant mouthbreathers trying to kill Zaha’s project actually think their carbdoard McManshions are well designed buildings that would lose value by having her project there. Total unrepentant ignorance. The values on those homes could only go up. The culture in the neighborhood could only be improved.

      It’s hilarious, but so sad at the same time. So much arrogance in conservative America, so much arrogance and unrepentant ignorance.

      No wonder the country is going down the drain. Half the population simply refuses to join the 21st Century, no matter what.

  3. Thumb up Thumb down +1

    brava for our daring friend and her exquisite client. too bad la jolla is such a bastion of sun dried and face lifted spanglish. as if a single colonialization dictated place for all time. get over it and stay classy san diego!

  4. Thumb up Thumb down +2

    I am very surprised that this was approved. To think that San Diego would approve something so “different” from what most of it’s boring residents prefer is astonishing. A simple drive through the city proves my point that this city NEEDS Zaha Hadid and others like her to break the mold of it’s cookie-cutter mansions and cube-infested designs. In typical Zaha fashion, I am sure that the interior is just as amazing as the exterior. Those who think her work is “meaningless” can go back to living in 20th century boxes.

  5. Thumb up Thumb down -1

    Truly, it’s just ugly, like Aunt Gladys’ catseye glasses. All it needs is purple concrete hair and some giant concrete fake pearls. There’s your figuration. Now find it a context :S

  6. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    Who needs a house that big? I think that’s the bigger issue, conspicuous consumption at a time of environmental degradation. The house may be great (who knows, we only have one rendering) but the size is obscene!

  7. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    I agree that this form seems to have little to do with the site. I’m dying to know the process that produced it. The shape is beautiful, but what of the programming asked for it?

  8. Thumb up Thumb down 0

    The truth is that change in design and ideas scare people, it terrifies them! even intelligent people, so it’s not a question of being educated as that’s usually the case. So many examples: Eiffel Tower, the louvre pyramid, Villa Savoye, the pompidou center, etc, etc…people always oppose what they don’t understand, especially the older they are.

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