El Nudillo — “The Knuckle”

Posted: October 6th, 2017 | Columnists, East Village News, Featured | 2 Comments

By Joan Wojcik | East Village News

Great cities have great signatures. One cannot think about Paris without imagining the Eiffel Tower; Chicago and its Picasso; and St. Louis with its Arch to the West.

A group of East Village architects, planners, and designers, along with the community, are proposing a new design to create a signature piece for America’s Finest City.

For several years, East Village People (EVP), the organizers of the East Village South Focus Plan, has been studying and evaluating concepts to develop the southeast East Village area. Numerous workshops have been held at the NewSchool of Architecture in an effort to reach out to the East Village community, and assist in the participation of formulating concepts and ideas for the East Village South Focus Plan.

An artist’s rendering of one concept for El Nudillo. Residents and business owners in East Village want community input on how to bring this intersection together. (Courtesy EVP)

The final draft of the East Village South Focus Plan will soon be reviewed and, hopefully, endorsed by City Council, providing a blueprint to the vision for not only the southeast area of East Village, but an iconic signature for the entire city to enjoy.

At the June EVP meeting, headed by Beth Callendar and Roger Lewis, the discussion focused on the promenade walkways that extend from City College to the very southern boundary of East Village, adjacent to Barrio Logan.

The goal of the promenade, with its wide sidewalks, outdoor furniture and art, is to promote a walkable community in Downtown. One idea that emerged from the meeting was to extend the northern end of the promenade all the way to Balboa Park. But perhaps the most exciting idea was formulated through the discussions on the development of the southern end of the promenade walkways, an area that the group named “El Nudillo.”

El Nudillo is the EVP’s name for where the promenade walkways end at the intersection of 14th Street, National Avenue and Commercial Street. These three streets merge and turn 45 degrees, thus the name El Nudillo – “the knuckle.” It was decided that the El Nudillo intersection should be the iconic signature-gathering destination where walkers can stop and gather to enjoy the surrounding neighborhood views.

(Courtesy EVP)

Many concepts for an iconic gathering space emerged from the workshop.  Architects continued the dialogue into August, where it was decided that the best ideas would be either a platform or roundabout design.

A platform design entitled “The Lyre,” by Noura Bishay, Cameron Astumi and the NewSchool of Architecture, was one of the many designs submitted.

Their design incorporates a walkway bridge spanning the three streets at the intersection. The bridge is so named because its archway and supporting cables resemble the harp-style musical instrument and the strings on a lyre.

As the walkers travel across the bridge 26 feet above street level, they will be able to view Petco Park, Chicano Park in Barrio Logan, and Balboa Park’s California Tower. It’s the perfect location for an iconic statement.

Currently El Nudillo is just a non-descript intersection, but with assistance from the community, the final design will be completed. The EVP needed to find a method to make it easy for the community to provide input on the final design of the signature piece. Thus, they collaborated with two researchers at UC San Diego — assistant professor Steven Dow and design fellow and postdoctoral researcher Narges Mahyar — to develop an online platform called Community Crit (community critique).

Community Crit ( is a user-friendly survey used to gather as many ideas and comments from the community as possible to help create the final iconic statement for El Nudillo.

Many comments have already been received from community members, one suggestion included the addition of a second level on the platform, which would include chairs and telescopes for people to relax and view the beautiful neighborhoods. Become a part of history.

El Nudillo is currently just an idea for the southern part of an 11-block stretch of the promenade streets, connecting diverse and distinct areas of the community, which could be complemented with greenery, outdoor dining, broad pedestrian walkways, architecture, art, entertainment and numerous amenities to be enjoyed by all; San Diego’s signature.

Paris has its Eiffel Tower, Chicago has its Picasso and St. Louis has its Arch to the West. Americas Finest City needs an iconic signature for its city and you can help design it.

Participate in the survey and submit your ideas for El Nudillo at

— Joan Wojcik is the president of the East Village Residents Group. Learn more about the EVRG contact Joan at or visit


  1. Benny Cartwright says:

    No. No. No. We need to spend money on saving the souls who are perishing on our streets and making housing more afforadable. And nothing else until this crisis is solved. We don’t need some giant knuckle monument. San Diego just doesn’t get it.

  2. […] [Ref: “El Nudillo, the knuckle,” Vol. 18, Issue 10, or online at] […]

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