Architect who worked on Hotel La Jolla dies following attack

Architect and developer Graham Downes, who worked on a remodel of Hotel La Jolla and designed the Sauvage swimwear shop on Prospect Street, has died. He was 55.

Higinio Salgado, 31, an employee at Downes’ architectural firm, is in custody on suspicion of attempted murder, after a fight in Downes’ Bankers Hill neighborhood.

Police were called to a residence in the 200 block of West Juniper Street near Front Street about 1:10 a.m. Friday, April 19. The two men were on ground on the south side of the street, San Diego police said.

Downes was unconscious, with severe facial and head injuries, police said. He was taken to a hospital, where he died on Sunday.

Officers took Salgado to police headquarters, where he was booked into jail.

Downes started 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. Graham Downes Architecture is known for its work at several local hotels and restaurants including the Bali Hai, the Hard Rock Hotel and Tower 23 hotel. Many of his urban mixed-use projects have served as catalysts for neighborhood renaissance in areas such as Downtown San Diego, Barrio Logan and Banker’s Hill.

Born the second of four boys, Downes arrived in San Diego in 1986 from Durban, South Africa, where he 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, 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. Though his capacity for work and the intensity he brought to the office and the sports field are legendary, friends and colleagues say he will be remembered most for his vision, design talent, generosity and humanity.

Funeral arrangements are pending.

--City News Service/Staff Reports