A quarter century ago Victoria Thornton founded Open House London based on one salient thought: Invite the public to see and experience the architecture all around them, and they'll advocate for better design of their city.
The idea took off, and San Diego signed on as an Open House city. Locals and tourists on Saturday and Sunday will be able to tour 47 of the city's architecturally interesting buildings at no cost — from historic hotels and well-known landmarks to newly built schools and architectural firms.
Neighborhoods covered this year include buildings in downtown, Bankers Hill and Barrio Logan.
And you can step behind the scenes at the San Diego Opera Scenic Studio at 3064 Commercial St. where visitors can learn about where opera sets are built, and the Villa Montezuma Museum, a landmark Queen Anne Victorian built in 1887.
Fast forward to contemporary design like Central Library San Diego (330 Park Blvd.), with its landmark steel-latticed dome; and the National (2632 National Ave.), the office of developer LWP Group, which features shipping containers-turned-meeting rooms and other innovative materials.
Visitors can show up for most tours; some are guided, others self-guided. Some tours (such as Villa Montezuma) require advance registration for free tours.