Posts tagged with "San Francisco":

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Major renovation of KQED headquarters signals renewed commitment to its public presence

San Francisco’s Mission District was a very different place when radio station KQED first began operating within its fortress-like headquarters on the corner of Mariposa and Bryant in 1992. What was once a quiet, working-class neighborhood became one of the most desirable in the city, now distinguished by Michelin star-rated restaurants and multi-million-dollar townhouses. KQED has made drastic changes within the last 27 years as well. “This used to be an organization that created content and broadcast it out,” said John Boland, president of KQED. “Now there’s much more interaction. We think of ourselves as a community convenor as well as a program producer.” In response, KQED recently reimagined how its building might interact with its context with the help of local firm EHDD Architecture, with a renovation that is, essentially, a new building on the same site. Because KQED recently paid off the mortgage of its headquarters, a thorough reconstruction on the same site was determined to be cheaper than relocating. The blank white facades will be replaced by a glassy corner entrance flanked by generously sized office windows to the tune of $91 million. Within the entrance lobby will be an amphitheater-like staircase and a 26-foot-tall media wall, all of which will be accessible to the public. “We want to peel up the facade and invite people in,” said Rebecca Sharkey, a principal at EHDD Architecture. “KQED told us from the start they want to make themselves more visible to the community and open up about what public media does.” The working interior will receive a significant transformation as well, including technical studios updated for the 21st century, a larger newsroom, a skylit atrium on the second floor and a rooftop terrace above the corner entrance which will offer views of the Mission District and beyond. The only elements of the original building that will stay in place are the elevator banks, parking structure and television studio, which will be retrofitted to accommodate public events. “The idea,” Sharkey explained, “is to keep the things that we can while scraping away the rest of what’s there and reconfiguring it.” Construction is planned to start next July, at which point all 425 employees currently working within the headquarters will be relocated in Downtown San Francisco, and is expected to take two years to complete.
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Yves Béhar whips up a warm palette for coworking offices in San Francisco

Located in the Jackson Square area of San Francisco's financial district, the third location of the coworking conglomerate Canopy rents out private offices. Developers Amir Mortazavi and Steve Mohebi paired up with local, Swiss designer Yves Béhar to divvy up 10,000 square feet inside of a centuries-old building into five stories of 32 private offices—each accommodates one to ten tenants. Sourcing the building—located just across the street from the fourth tallest building in the city 555 California Street (largest by floor area)—which historically houses some of the most notable financial and tech companies including Barclays, Goldman Sachs, and Microsoft—Mortazavi and Mohebi saw the need for private spaces among growing companies. Featuring two stories of full-floor private offices and two floors of 2,000 square foot communal offices, a subdued material palette sprinkled with low maintenance plant life by Léon and George gives a light airy aura—something that is soft and not too brazen for the tired eyes of the financial services industry. Overall, the parred down aesthetic (no stuffed mallards to be found here) comprises the original exposed bricks with rough-textured rugs in a sea of Herman Miller office furniture. Meanwhile, bespoke Blue Calcite marble and aluminum conference and communal tables by M-PROJECTS and local artisans, placed in prominent positions, aesthetically tie together each nook and cranny. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Lawsuit against San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter tossed, for now

Tensions stoked by the increasing wealth inequality of San Francisco have become the subject of a heated (and well documented online) legal debate over the last several months. After it was announced this April that opponents to the city’s largest homeless shelter, the Embarcadero Navigation Center, were determined to undermine the project through a lawsuit they had crowdfunded for, the overseeing San Francisco Superior Court judge decided not to issue a halt to its construction. The project in question, a 200-bed homeless shelter, is already underway on 2.3 acres in The Embarcadero, the strip of land along the city’s eastern shoreline facing Berkeley, and it is projected that it will be finished by the end of this year. The center's construction first caught the attention of the non-profit group Safe Embarcadero For All (SEFA), which argued that the construction of homeless housing in that location would cause “irreparable harm” to the residents of nearby condominiums (one SEFA attorney cited an act of assault against a Watermark resident on August 11th of this year to prove their claim). They then filed a lawsuit against the San Francisco Planning Commission, the state of California, and the city’s Homelessness and Supportive Housing division. Despite their efforts, Judge Ethan P. Schulman claimed that their charges were unfounded and dismissed their case last Monday. The judge found that the construction and operation of the building would not cause harm to the wealthier residents of the neighborhood, as SEFA’s attorneys claimed it would, but instead would provide the homeless community with a safe environment to call their own. In response to several other issues SEFA have taken against the project, Deputy City Attorney James Emery stated that “the project is temporary” and “should the courts ultimately determine the project is unlawful, the site can be restored to its prior use.” Though the future of the homeless shelter remains unclear, the judge’s recent decision makes its completion much more likely than it has been in several months. However, with the sixth-highest income inequality of any U.S. city, tensions between housing shortages and increasing homelessness rates in San Francisco will likely inspire similar litigation as other homeless shelters are considered in its future. Additionally, SEFA may still get there day in court; although the motion to stop construction on the center was denied, the judge has scheduled a follow-up hearing for September 23.
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San Francisco’s Millennium Tower approved for $100 million structural renovation

On the heels of its tenth anniversary, downtown San Francisco’s controversial Millennium Tower may soon turn things around. After it was announced in 2016 that the 645-foot-tall tower had sunk 17 inches into the ground and tilted 18 inches west, the city threatened to block access to the building until a swift and cost-efficient solution was found. Last year, the city announced a $100 million solution to retroactively construct proper bedrock-supported piles to stabilize the residential tower. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, that plan was endorsed late last month by a four-person panel hired by the city, after deliberating that they “[saw] no reason to withhold approval of the building permit." The structural engineering firm Simpson Gumpertz & Heger proposed that the building’s original structural system, a “10-foot-thick concrete foundation bonded by nearly 1000 reinforced concrete piles driven close to 90 feet into a layer of soft clay,” could safely be replaced by a set of piles long enough to reach the bedrock underneath. At 250 feet tall, two feet wide, and over 140,000 pounds each, the 52 new steel-and-concrete piles will provide significantly more structural stability than their predecessors. Simpson Gumptertz & Heger concluded that the improvements will not come quickly; it's estimated that each pile will take "three to four days to drill into place,” and the process would be made more difficult with the addition of a “reinforced concrete inner pile installed within each steel shaft.” However, when considering the city’s history of catastrophic earthquakes, the revised structural plan will no doubt serve to put its residents and neighbors at ease. The San Francisco Department of Building Inspection warned that if plans were not made to improve the structural conditions of Millennium Tower, the building could sink and tilt at an exponential rate, while adding that it could “increase forces and deformations on the foundation, which may in the future trigger mandatory repair provisions of the San Francisco existing building code.” The solution will likely set a precedent for other towers being built in the area and elsewhere. Niall McCarthy, an attorney representing a group of homeowners, told the Guardian that “this litigation exposed a lot of problems in the development of this particular building,” and that “it will be a roadmap for other downtown developments for what to avoid.” Though its original structural system—dropping piles into soft, loamy soil instead of attaching it to bedrock—is fairly common in the city, it should have been anticipated that Millennium Tower’s significant weight and height would have necessitated more substantial footing.
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Olafur Eliasson unveils larger-than-life spheres in San Francisco

Olafur Eliasson’s latest installation, Seeing spheres, 2019, is the Danish-Icelandic artist’s first permanent public piece on the West Coast. Each of the five ultra-polished steel balls stands over 15-feet tall and now populate the corner of San Francisco’s bayside basketball arena, the Chase Center. According to Studio Olafur Eliasson, the artwork was realized using a fabrication process known as hydroforming, which is a cost-effective way to shape metals using highly pressurized fluid. The design team unveiled through the company’s Instagram account that Netherlands-based Central Industry Group (CIG) helped them turn what were once polyhedral pieces of steel with many planar faces into smooth spheres. Viewers can watch as the individual structures are dipped into high-pressure water below and then lifted to reveal a perfectly round shape. 
 
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Revealed to the public this week, the finished spheres now sit arranged in a circle within the 25,000-square-foot triangular plaza of the Chase Center—home of the Golden State Warriors. Flat mirrors carved into the inward-facing side of each structure allow visitors to see their reflection, as well as the other spheres, from various angles. Whether viewing up close or from the center of the installation, the pieces appear and disappear, layer on top of one another, and distort the surrounding landscape. The circular, oversized frames are also rimmed with LED lights that glow at night.  “Seeing spheres is a public space that contains you and contains multitudes,” said Eliasson in a comment on Instagram. “We often think of public space as empty, negative space in the city, viewed from a car or crossed on the way to somewhere else. Seeing spheres offers a place to pause, where you see yourself from outside, as a participant in society.” This isn’t Eliasson’s first foray into spheres. Known for a longtime career of crafting super shapely, light-filled artwork, most of it somewhat trippy, his most recent projects featuring spherical forms include In real life, 2019 and Renaissance echoes, 2019, both currently on view at his Tate Modern retrospective in London, as well as Rainbow bridge, 2017, shown at the Tanya Bonakdar Gallery in New York, among many others. 
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How is California dealing with its disappearing coast?

The questions raised by global warming, climate change, sea-level rise, and the resulting migration crisis are not to be taken lightly. They offer us myriad dramas in the form of disappearing cities, changing neighborhoods, dwindling resources, and existential anxiety about living near water. The Los Angeles Times recently took on some of these tough questions in a special report titled “California Against the Sea.” Illustrated with sweeping photography (not shown here) of the state’s Pacific shore, the extensive feature examines the disappearing California coast, potential fixes, and the consequences those fixes might bring. As much as two-thirds of the beaches in California could be gone by the end of the century. In California alone, it is estimated that $150 billion in property could be at risk of flooding. Several points became clear from reading the LA Times reporting, done by Rosanna Xia. One is that the problems created when parts of the coast become uninhabitable are not easily solved by design or technology. Physical interventions, like seawalls—which can cost up to $200,000 per house—often make the problem worse by encouraging erosion and sand build-up around the structure; short-term solutions, like adding sand to beaches, are expensive, and there is only so much sand in the world. Environmentalists and many others favor “managed retreat,” or carefully and systematically moving away from the coast, but this option faces deep resistance from some landowners. The report shows that the crisis is a real estate drama above all else. Entrenched interests are often opposed to solutions to environmental issues if those solutions threaten people’s property. Especially in California, a strong tradition of homeownership is at odds with what many consider sensible public management of the coastline. These conflicts are already playing out on a small scale. In Pacifica, a small city just south of San Francisco, the beach is already eroding, despite efforts begun in the 1970s to install seawalls, piles of rocks, and special concrete to preserve the shoreline. Although some homes have already been removed from the coast, not all residents are willing to accept managed retreat. “‘Managed retreat’ is a code word for giving up—on our homes and the town itself,” Mark Stechbart, who is concerned about the future value of his Pacifica home, told the Times. “This is not just some intellectual exercise. These are real people and a real town at stake.” “The public has rights to the beach, but I apparently don’t have rights to my house,” Suzanne Drake, another homeowner said in the report. “I’m a left-of-left Democrat, but these environmental zealots are next level.” It is fairly scary to think about how these issues will play out if the scale and seriousness of the crisis grow. According to the Times, in the last 100 years, sea levels rose 9 inches along the California coast, but are expected to go up by as much as 9 feet by the year 2100. If a town like Pacifica is experiencing this kind of disagreement and controversy when a handful of houses are involved, how will a city like Miami deal with entire neighborhoods negotiating how to relocate (or not)? Each person has their own beliefs and personal fortune at stake. This is unfortunately already happening in Florida, Louisiana, and North Carolina, among other places. There are no straightforward design solutions. Lessons from the past say that human intervention can actually make things worse—not to mention that safeguarding the whole state of California would require upward of $22 billion, according to the Times. A simulated game in the special report has three outcomes: loss of beaches due to seawall construction; cost overruns; and success, by way of managed retreat and careful diplomacy that requires negotiating with individual homeowners. There are problems with the latter solution. Buyout programs have proven successful elsewhere, but not in places with coastal California market prices. Staten Island’s post–Hurricane Sandy program bought 300 homes for $120 million, which would buy about ten houses in Malibu. These are massive problems that are only going to get bigger. Can design do anything to help? Or if it is a question of real estate, can the markets be managed without tearing communities apart? If California is any indication, both of these possibilities appear unlikely.
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CMG to bring back 1912 feel for San Francisco Civic Center overhaul

After over a year of community review, a refined vision plan by CMG Landscape Architecture designed to upgrade and modernize San Francisco’s Civic Center district is moving forward. Backed by a supergroup design team that includes Kennerly Architecture + Planning, Gehl Studio, HR&A, and others, CMG’s proposal seeks to retool the multi-block plaza and pedestrian mall to better fulfill the original 1912 Beaux Arts plan proposed for the site by architect John Galen Howard, designer of the University of California, Berkeley. CMG’s vision is part of a larger effort spearheaded by the City of San Francisco called the Civic Center Public Realm Plan, a scheme that seeks to articulate a “unified vision for long-term improvements to the area’s public spaces and streets.” As it stands, the Civic Center area is anchored by three major public spaces that are each being reworked by the latest plan to promote universal accessibility, access to nature, and around-the-clock public use. CMG proposes to transform the namesake Civic Center Plaza flanking City Hall into a series of outdoor “garden rooms” that surround a central square. The four garden rooms will contain a pair of lawns and newly planted tree areas that celebrate and frame a pair of recently refurbished playgrounds. The space will be anchored by an interactive play fountain that can be turned off during the protests and gatherings that take over the space. On the opposite end of the axis that runs through the district, the United Nations Plaza will see significant changes, including the “adaptation” of an arresting but unloved Lawrence Halprin–designed monumental fountain. The connecting block along Fulton Street that links the two plaza areas will be upgraded as well, with new soccer fields installed in the space between the Asian Art Museum—where wHY is currently planning an ambitious expansion—and the San Francisco Public Library buildings. Willett Moss, founding partner at CMG, said, “Initially we thought the plan would be responsive to the district’s diverse demographics with a multitude of culturally specific amenities and experiences. However, through the process, we realized that the vast majority of people want essentially the same thing—a space that’s inclusive, accessible, and celebratory.” A final version of the community-led design will be unveiled later this year with final completion of the project expected by 2022.

San Francisco Design Week 2019

SAN FRANCISCO DESIGN WEEK kicks off June 20 – 28 at the Design Hub at Pier 27, celebrating with the theme CommUNITY. Join the Opening Night Reception followed by a day of exclusive programming at the Hub. Experience interactive exhibits, product displays, installations and talks, including the 2019 Design Awards and CommUNITY Art Silent Auction. All week hosted events are held across the region at design studios, museums, restaurants, shops and pop-up venues. Highlights include hosted talks and workshops by design leaders such as Yves Behars’ fuseproject, a rare visit to Ken Fulk’s studio and St. Joseph’s Art Society, and Swiss designer Adrien Rovero’s show-stopping art installation.
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Beleaguered Transbay Transit Center to reopen in July

Nine months after cracks were discovered in two structural steel beams of the Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects–designed Transbay Transit Center in San Francisco, the transit hub will finally reopen on July 1. However, busses won’t roll through the $2.2 billion terminal until the end of the summer; at first, only the 5.4-acre rooftop park will be open to the public. The repair plan announced in January appears to have worked, and, according to the San Francisco Chronicle, the building was declared safe by a panel of engineers yesterday. The Metropolitan Transportation Commission, which covers the entirety of the San Francisco Bay Area, had determined that welding access holes in the two cracked beams had been incorrectly cut during construction, resulting in stress fractures. After the city paid $6 million in testing and $2.5 million a month in security for the closed center, contractors decided to reinforce the two affected beams, and two untouched beams they connect to, with steel plates. Although the three-block-long transit center is safe to occupy again, the interior was stripped during the repairs and workers need more time to reinstall the ceiling and column coverings. Bus drivers, who had previously been picking up and dropping off passengers at a satellite terminal on Folsom Street a block away will need to be retrained as well. So in the meantime, fitness classes will resume on the transit center’s roof and pedestrians can once again explore the park. Still, there’s no news on the progress to bring rail to the complex’s basement, which was built to accommodate high-speed trains but remains empty. No timeline or budget has been agreed upon for a BART and Caltrain extension to the Transbay Transit Center, although politicians and the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, the independent agency responsible for bringing rail to the station, have agreed upon the need to do so.
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George Homsey, giant of California architecture, has passed away

George Homsey, one of the founding members of San Francisco–based firm Esherick Homsey Dodge and Davis (EHDD), has passed away. Widely considered a giant of California architecture, especially in the San Francisco Bay Area, Homsey practiced architecture with EHDD for nearly 50 years before parting ways with the firm in 2000 to run his own practice. During Homsey’s storied career, he worked with some of the greats of late-20th-century Northern California architecture, including business partner Joseph Esherick, and collaborators Charles Moore and William Turnbull. Together with these architects, Homsey helped bring to life Sea Ranch, the iconic shingled housing development situated on the rugged California coast north of San Francisco, as well as many delightful and contemplative private residences, schools, and public buildings. Homsey was regarded as the diligent and strong-willed counterpart to Esherick at EHDD, and helped to animate Esherick’s conceptually-driven works with a sensitivity to light, composition, and pragmatic materiality that made Homsey one of the fathers of what some called the “Third Bay Tradition,” a vernacular style of architecture that channeled and updated the Bay Area’s woodsy architectural and environmental influences for a new generation. Homsey, for example, was one of the chief designers of the hedgerow homes at Sea Ranch, a series of shed-roofed and wood-clad abodes that simultaneously struck out from and blended into the site’s scrubby terrain. Born in 1926 in San Francisco’s Western Addition, Homsey grew up in a typical San Francisco duplex where the modest units were separated by a pragmatic light well. The son of an auto mechanic, Homsey trained to become a naval aviator to serve in the military, but the war ended before he could take flight. With this training in hand, Homsey set out to study architecture at the City College of San Francisco and at the University of California, Berkeley. He joined Esherick’s fledgling firm in 1952 and made partner 20 years later. Homsey would go on to create the design guidelines for Yosemite National Park as well as comprehensive designs for San Francisco’s Bay Area Rapid Transit stations. He was awarded the Maybeck Award for lifetime achievement in architectural design by the American Institute of Architects, California Council in 2006 for his work.
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San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter is approved, but opponents vow to sue

After a GoFundMe duel that raised $101,000 for opponents of what could become San Francisco’s largest homeless shelter (and $176,000 for opponents of the opponents), the Embarcadero Navigation Center officially received approval from the city on April 23. However, even after a series of concessions between the city and opponents that the center would scale up to its 200-bed capacity from an initial 130 beds, and cut its operating life from four years to two (with an option to renew), opponents still weren’t satisfied. The SF Port Commission unanimously approved leasing a plot of land in the Embarcadero neighborhood to the city. Wealthy residents vowed to fight the shelter in court, after packing the hearing with orange, syringe-bearing signs that decried the “mega-shelter,” according to Gizmodo. Navigation centers differ from traditional shelters in that they allow pets, offer transitionary and health services, and allow residents to stay 24 hours; they’re also designed to be temporary structures. San Francisco mayor London Breed is pushing for the center at Seawall Lot 330, currently a 2.3-acre parking lot, to open before the end of the summer as part of her plan to add an additional 1,000 beds to the city’s capacity. It’s estimated that over 4,300 people sleep on San Francisco’s streets every night, and the city has become the most expensive to live in worldwide. Opponents have claimed that because navigation centers don’t allow drug use, the new residents will be doing drugs in public, and create an unsafe atmosphere in a neighborhood that welcomes a large number of families and tourists alike. Using the GoFundMe money raised, the shelter’s opponents, a group calling themselves Safe Embarcadero, have hired real estate attorney Andrew Zacks to fight the city. According to Gizmodo, Zacks claims that the city failed to deliver the relevant documents in a timely manner and will be suing. Meanwhile, the group presented a petition with 2,600 signatures at the April 24 hearing in opposition to the shelter. It seems that the courts will now decide whether the shelter can be built in time to meet Mayor Breed’s end-of-summer deadline.
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San Francisco homeless shelter inspires online fundraising battles

A homeless shelter proposed for San Francisco’s Embarcadero has resulted in dueling GoFundMe campaigns; one from residents who want to keep the Navigation Center out, and one to support the shelter. On March 4, San Francisco mayor London Breed allowed a plan to move forward that would transform a 2.3-acre parking lot in the eastern waterfront neighborhood into the city’s largest Navigation Center. Centers allow residents to stay 24 hours, provide health and wellness services, and allow pets—they’re also designed to be temporary. It’s expected that the center at Seawall Lot 330, if allowed to open by the end of this summer as anticipated, would only operate for four years while the city wrangles with its homelessness crisis. Some Embarcadero residents aren’t happy. On March 20, a group calling themselves Safe Embarcadero for All launched a GoFundMe campaign to raise $100,000 for a legal defense fund to help them oppose the shelter. Complete with its own website, Twitter feed, and well-heeled backers, Safe Embarcadero successfully hit its goal in 25 days. The group cited the large number of families and tourists the neighborhood draws, and the site’s potential proximity to landmarks such as Oracle Park as reasons for trying to push the shelter elsewhere. “The rushed process the Mayor is following to build the homeless shelter by the end of the summer is concerning to the community,” reads the Safe Embarcadero for All GoFundMe page. “We are worried that the rushed process puts the political goal of building a large Navigation Center ahead of legitimate concerns about public safety, drug use, and other problems that a large shelter may bring to the community. According to the city’s own data, a third of the homeless are drug users and some are sex offenders. “The Navigation Center will not allow drug use inside, meaning that about 75 drug users will be forced into the surrounding family neighborhood to use drugs. The community is also concerned about the environmental effects of building on a site that is known to have toxic materials beneath.” Perhaps recognizing that concerted opposition by “not in my backyard” organizers has killed or segregated low income and homeless housing elsewhere, a counter fundraiser was created in support of the Navigation Center. SAFER Embarcadero for ALL, citing the potential legal costs and community challenges that the shelter is facing, sought to raise $175,000 in support of the Coalition on Homelessness. With 1,900 donations, in comparison to the original group’s 360, that goal was reached in 17 days. The GoFundMe in support of the Navigation Center also drew big donations from Salesforce, Twitter founder Jack Dorsey, and GoFundMe itself, which contributed $5,000. The fight over the Embarcadero center is playing out in real-world meetings and protests that are just as charged as their online counterparts. On April 3, Mayor Breed was shouted down at a town hall meeting as she tried to stump for the scheme. While the mayor has proposed opening another 1,000 beds worth of shelters by 2020, so far only 212 have actually come online. The final battle over Seawall Lot 330 will culminate in a vote by the Port Commission on April 23, as the body (whose five members were selected by the mayor) votes on whether it will lease the site to the city.