SAN DIEGO – Well-known architect Graham Downes died Sunday of injuries sustained late last week when he was assaulted outside his home in Bankers Hill, his company said. Downes was 55.
Downes was known for his work on the Hard Rock Hotel, Bali Hai restaurant on Shelter Island, Tower 23 Hotel, Palomar Hotel, Charlotte Russe, Hivehaus, and other urban transformations in East Village and Barrio Logan.
An employee of Graham Downes Architecture, Higinio Soriano Salgado, 31, was charged with attempted murder prior to Downes’ death, and prosecutors could enhance those charges when the suspect faces arraignment on Tuesday.
Police responded to a call of two men fighting on Juniper Street early Friday morning, and found Downes lying on the ground unconscious with severe head and facial injuries, according to NBC San Diego.
Witnesses said Downes had been hosting a party at his home at the time of the attack.
Art gallery owner Alexander Salazar told the TV station that his friend was a special person:
"He built something in Barrio Logan, in East Village in areas that most people wouldn't spend a dime on or even give it a second shot.
“All of San Diego somehow was touched by Graham Downes’ intelligence and vision and that's something that few people could say."
Danielle Gano of ellcomm.com issued this statement Sunday afternoon:
Nationally acclaimed architect, Graham Downes, died today at the age of 55. He died from injuries sustained in an assault.
Architect, developer and creative visionary, Downes was revered for his tireless advocacy of world-class design and his work in revitalizing neglected urban areas. Many of his urban mixed-use projects have served as catalysts for neighborhood renaissance, such as Downtown San Diego, Barrio Logan and Banker's Hill, where he lived. Undaunted by an extremely challenging economy, he created his architecture firm on a credit card in 1994 and grew it into one of San Diego's most respected and sought after design firms, with projects that include Tower 23 Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel San Diego, Palomar Hotel, Hard Rock Hotel Nuevo Vallarta, Charlotte Russe, BASIC, Hivehaus, Charles David, Quicksilver, Suavage and Patagonia.
Born the second of four boys, Downes always knew he would achieve great things, and through the sheer power of his will and his inexhaustible energy he did exactly that. Downes first arrived in San Diego in 1986 from Durban, South Africa where he had enjoyed a stellar rugby career after graduating from the University of Natal with a degree in Architecture. He worked as an architect by day and sportsman by night, quickly making a name for himself on the rugby field with the Old Mission Beach Athletic Club, and finally representing the United States at the 1987 Rugby World Cup. Downes' capacity for work and the intensity he brought to the office and the sports field are legendary, but it is for his vision, design talent, generosity and humanity that he will be remembered.
To his family and friends, Downes was known as an exciting and adventurous man who did no less than devour life. There were no half-measures in his world and those who knew him socially surely have a memorable story to tell in which he is invariably at the center, but his heart's passion was with the design practice he toiled so hard to create and grow, Graham Downes Architecture. He leaves behind a world class outfit that stands firmly on the foundation he built; a team of talented design professionals instilled with his vision, energy and discipline and, most importantly, a group forever grateful to have risen under the mentorship and care of truly inspirational man. Graham Downes Architecture remains strong and the future remains bright.
Downes is survived by everyone who ever met him, for if you did, you will certainly remember him. Details on his funeral arrangements will be released soon.
Downes is also survived by four brothers.
To read one of the last interviews with Graham Downes, click HERE.
NBC San Diego news video