The Medico-Dental Building, now known as the Centre City Building, is a historic 14-story high-rise office building in Downtown San Diego. It was one of the city's first skyscrapers; when it opened in 1927 it was the tallest building in San Diego. When in operation as the Medico-Dental it was used, as the name implies, to house various medical and dental offices. This housing of these medical professions in one building was similar to what had been done around the nation at the time. It was set to help improve the practices, the look, profit, and accessibility. These days, many rooms/floors are vacant, though those that call this building home are from the San Diego Opera.
The 0.23-acre location was originally the site of a second home and carriage house for Alonzo Horton, the father of Downtown San Diego. The Sisters of St. Joseph purchased the property from Horton in the 1880s and established a girls' school, the Academy of Our Lady of Peace, in the large home, using the carriage house as a convent and offices. The Academy moved to a larger property in Normal Heights in 1925. The Horton structures were razed to build the Medico-Dental Building.
As its name suggests, the building was designed to house medical and dental offices, with a ground-floor pharmacy and a medical library on the 14th floor. Its purpose was to cluster medical and dental services in one place, improving San Diego's medical scene as well as providing a profitable business venture; a similar business model had succeeded in a dozen cities across the country. The original owners were a group of professional men headed by Charles Lineaweaver. Tenancy was restricted to licensed physicians and dentists; the rule was enforced by a Board of Directors and Officers.
As time went on the focus of San Diego's medical community shifted uptown toward Hillcrest, where Mercy Hospital and the UCSD Hospital were located. The building was no longer restricted to doctors and dentists but was used more and more for general office tenants, including at various times government offices, the public defender's office, and the San Diego Chamber of Commerce. During the 1980s the name was changed to the Centre City Building. Much of the building remains vacant, other than a few tenants such as the San Diego Opera.
The building is 14 stories high with a foundation that encloses a concrete subterranean basement. It is built in an "L" configuration, with the two wings fronting A Street and 3rd Avenue. Its elegant neoclassical revival design with decorative facade with brick, quarried granite and ornamental cast iron trim details exemplify the period's designers' belief that a building should include a clearly defined base, middle, and top.
Unique features include a gabled rooftop finished with Spanish tile, a gravel-covered lower observation roof over a rolled mineral surface, and rosette-style windows. The building has a reinforced concrete frame structure, also known as "ductile frame" construction. The exterior walls are concrete, clad faced with granite on the lowest three stories and with brick on the remainder of the building. Interior features include a marble lobby floor and staircase with a restored coffered ceiling.
It has 88,000 square feet of office space and 7,000 square feet of ground floor retail space. The building is owned by the Lamden Family Trust.
"Will we fix it? Rich can move to San Diego, but not labor". San Diego Union Tribune. August 19, 2001.
"Centre City Building, Downtown - San Diego CA". Lambden Properties.
Sutro, Dirk (2002). San Diego Architecture (First ed.). San Diego: San Diego Architectural Foundation. p. 36
"Nomination form" (PDF). National Register of Historic Places. July 24, 1979.