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Celebrated San Diego Architect Graham Downes Passes Away

Apr 22, 2013

The founder of San Diego-based Graham Downes Architecture passed away Sunday, April 21st, following injuries sustained in an assault by one of his employees.

Arriving in San Diego in 1986, the native of Durban, South Africa, first found success in a career in rugby. Following his graduation from the University of Natal with a degree in architecture, Downes worked as both an architect and a sportsman—starting with the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club and finally representing the U.S. at the 1987 Rugby World Cup. Downes is remembered for his equal determination in the office and on the sports field—as well as for his vision, design talent, humanity, and generosity.

Undaunted by the struggling economy, he created his architecture practice on a credit card in 1994 and grew it into one of San Diego's most sought after design firms—with projects that include Tower 23 Hotel, Hotel La Jolla, and Nico’s Chop House.

In the San Diego community, Downes was known for his advocacy of world-class design and socially considerate yet economically sustainable real estate development—as evidenced by his own investments in neighborhoods like Downtown, Barrio Logan, and Banker's Hill. His true passion lay with Graham Downes Architecture—the design practice he worked tirelessly to create and grow.

A public memorial celebration of Graham's life is being organized by The Old Mission Beach Athletic Club (OMBAC) Rugby Team, of which Graham Downes was once a member and a player. There will be some speeches between matches on Saturday, April 27, 2013 at the Little Q in the old Chargers practice field at the South West corner of the Qualcomm Stadium parking lot located at 9449 Friars Road, San Diego, 92108. In lieu of the usual $5 admission charge, OMBAC Rugby will be asking for a $5 donation that will go to start the “Graham Downes Scholarship Fund.”

He is survived by three brothers.

View a photo gallery of Graham's work here.

hdtalks: the interviews

During HD Expo 2014, Hospitality Design’s Michael Adams sat down with HBA’s Michael Bedner to talk about his half-century in the hospitality design industry. View the video.



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