The Q / Jonathan Segal

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Architects: Jonathan Segal FAIA
Location: San Diego, California,
Collaborators: Guillermo Tomaszewski, Greg Yeatter, Tracy Anderson, Wendy Segal
Year: 2010
Photographs: Courtesy of Jonathan Segal FAIA

Courtesy of Jonathan Segal FAIA

The Q is a seven-story mixed-use residential, office, and commercial development in the Little Italy district of downtown San Diego. The building integrates all of these uses within a small 50×200 foot infill lot while also saving the oldest home in Little Italy.

Courtesy of Jonathan Segal FAIA

The Q promotes a green live-work environment, the absence of necessity for automobile. This wonderful urban neighborhood leaves many tenants avoiding the use of the car altogether as their residences also become their offices and the adjacency of immediate needs fulfills any of their day to day requirements. The 27 apartments above the ground floor have high performance floor to ceiling glass shaded by horizontal fins that provide incredible views to downtown San Diego and the bay while lowering heat gain. Operable windows provide adequate cross–ventilation, eliminating the need for air-conditioning. A diverse array of unit sizes range from studios to a 7,000 sqft penthouse the architect serving as both the developer and contractor lives in and walks to work next door in the adjacent office space.

Courtesy of Jonathan Segal FAIA

In addition to a green lifestyle, the building integrates 132 photovoltaic panels on the roof to provide 100% of the buildings common area power requirements. While vertical fins on the backside of the building provide natural lighting during the day and glowing slits at night addressing even the adjacent building property line. Unlike most apartment buildings internal hallways are naturally ventilated, reducing overall building consumption dramatically, while concrete construction increases thermal mass keeping the building at a much more consistent temperature without the need for considerable insulation. The concrete being the finished and complete surface wherever possible allowed waste during construction to be inevitably reduced and VOCs were almost completely eliminated. Structure becomes finish and finish becomes structure.

Courtesy of Jonathan Segal FAIA

The historically designated Pray houses, a 1889 Gothic Victorian structure was a key element along the main artery of Little Italy. This utilization and restoration of the existing home, along with the sensitive nature of the ground floor of the new building, create a bond with the existing fabric of the neighborhood. Along this ground level San Diego’s newest top rated restaurant, an award winning coffee shop, a clothing and art store, and finally a new award winning noodle house flow freely with the street. The invigorating energy of the street frontage carries through the rest of the building.

Courtesy of Jonathan Segal FAIA

More than just a building, the Q has become a trademark of San Diego lifestyle. The name ‘the Q’ derives from James Bonds’ Q, the man with all of the latest and greatest gadgets efficiently integrated into existing devices we know and use everyday. The goal of the building was to become just that.


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Cite: "The Q / Jonathan Segal" 06 Nov 2012. ArchDaily. Accessed 30 May 2015. <>
  • Marc Jooste

    I think there is nothing more rewarding as an architect than being your own client. Jonathan Segal makes the Architect/Developer profession look so easy!

  • Frankencense

    Whoa–how’d they get that handrail-less stair through plan check and past the inspector–in California?!?

  • Patrick H

    I watched this building go up for a couple years. Now completed, it is a beautiful and inspiring project. Great job.