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San Diego Housing Commission and President and CEO Richard Gentry
Adaptive Reuse Award

Deborah Ruane, Richard Gentry, and Michael PavcoYou can't hide a seven-story historic landmark when it has faded from glory and been shuttered since 2005. To some visionaries, however, the potential of the former Hotel Churchill was hiding in plain sight. Built in 1914 in anticipation of the Panama-California Exposition, the downtown hotel was later converted to a low-cost residential hotel. Efforts to revive its fortunes as a fantasy medieval getaway in the 1980s failed. Luckily, the best idea was yet to come.

Last year, the restored and rehabilitated building welcomed new residents to much-needed affordable housing. The majority are veterans, plus eight adults reentering society from the corrections system, and eight young adults. Gone are all the traces of the kitschy castle mural and faux medieval décor. Instead, large restored windows on most floors shower the units with natural light. Six Juliet balconies and the entrance blade sign and awning have been replicated from historic photographs. Residents now use the restored lobby, including the historic check-in desk, and adjacent lounge.

The 1940s-era illuminated rooftop sign gleams once again against the night sky. This blazing sign, coupled with replacement lights lining the cornice between the sixth and seventh floors, symbolize a bright future for Hotel Churchill and its residents.

It took a large team of housing development partners working together to realize such an inspired reuse. Studio E Architects, Heritage Architecture & Planning, and KPFF - Structural Engineers, to name a few primaries. For merging the pressing needs of historic preservation and affordable housing, SOHO highly commends the San Diego Housing Commission and President and CEO Richard Gentry with the Adaptive Reuse Award.

Pictured left to right - Deborah Ruane, President and CEO Richard Gentry, and Michael Pavco of San Diego Housing Commission. All photos courtesy award winners, except winners photo by Sandé Lollis




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