Posts tagged with "Bay Area":

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In appreciation of Sally Byrne Woodbridge

In the era of Google Maps and Wikipedia, that print was once how architecture news and criticism circulated has mostly been forgotten. The death in late November 2019 of architectural historian and journalist Sally Byrne Woodbridge went unnoticed even in the San Francisco Chronicle. As a longtime correspondent of Progressive Architecture, Woodbridge kept the Bay Region’s architects visible nationally, exposing its readers to a broader slice of work than usually made New York City-centric editors’ maps. As the main curator–compiler of a series of guides to its architecture, she explained the region to itself. Her books on Bernard Maybeck, John Galen Howard, and Bay Area houses gave depth to that broad and discerning overview. Sally Byrne was born in Evanston, Illinois, in 1930 and raised in Louisville, Kentucky. She studied art history at Duke, graduating in 1951, then went to the Sorbonne as a Fulbright Scholar. While in Paris, she met John Marshall Woodbridge, returning with him to Princeton and working at the art library while he finished graduate school. Sally and John’s circle at Princeton included Charles Moore, Donlyn Lyndon, and William Turnbull—who together went on to later found MLTW, of Sea Ranch fame—and Hugh Hardy and Norval White. They were lifelong friends of James and Pamela Morton. As Dean of St. John the Divine Cathedral, James Morton restarted its construction and initiated its art program. Sally and John married in 1954. John finished at Princeton in 1956. Moving to San Francisco, he worked initially with the architect John Funk. They became friends with his colleague Albert Lanier and his wife, the artist Ruth Asawa. Through her, Sally met the photographer Imogen Cunningham. Moving to Berkeley, they raised a family in the 1912 house that John Galen Howard, U.C. Berkeley’s first campus architect, designed and built for himself. While John worked as an architect and planner for SOM in San Francisco and Washington, D.C., Sally took up her career as a journalist, critic, and historian. Although they divorced, Sally and John remained good friends and writing partners. John married the poet Carolyn Kizer, winner of a Pulitzer in 1985. Sally never remarried, living on Vine Street in North Berkeley with her daughter Pamela Woodbridge and her son-in-law, the cinematographer Elliott Davis, as neighbors. The final edition of their guide, San Francisco Architecture, designed by Chuck Byrne, appeared in 2005. Bay Area Houses, for which Sally was editor and a contributor, appeared in 1976. Monographs on Bernard Maybeck (1992) and John Galen Howard (2002), two giants of early 20th-century architecture in the Bay Region, followed. She contributed to the Historical American Buildings Survey in California and organized exhibits on architecture. At Progressive Architecture, Sally covered the region’s architecture with critical and historical awareness. Coming of age in Paris and Princeton, hers was a cosmopolitan, even existentialist sensibility that saw how the best work here reflected the wider world, including Finland and Japan’s hybrid modernism, yet was attuned to such attributes of place as terrain, climate, light, view, fabric, and pattern. As Pierluigi Serraino noted in NorCalMod, modernism here varied across a wide spectrum. Lewis Mumford’s “region apart” was never really true, nor was the idea of “critical regionalism” quite accurate. Some architects here agreed. Others were wary of the designation. Sally Woodbridge dealt with the region by considering the history—Maybeck and Howard were products of the Beaux-Arts system, but both designed buildings here that looked back to Arts & Crafts and picked up on the Bay Region’s artisan tradition. She also stayed open to everything that arose here. The countermovement around Archetype, with work by Andrew Batey, Mark Mack, Steven Holl, and Jim Jennings, and the postmodern, anticipatory classicism of Thomas Gordon Smith, was a rebellion against a too-narrow view of what the region was and what it could achieve. A close friend of Charles Moore, she saw his work embrace such developments as Pop Art, Bobbie Stauffacher Solomon’s super-graphics, and the environmentalism-as-art practiced by Larry Halprin. As she observed and wrote, the region was in constant ferment, viewed from within. Woodbridge also leaves her son Lawrence and four grandchildren. Her daughter Diana, who worked with the San Francisco architect Jeremy Kotas, died in 2002. John Woodbridge died in 2014. John Parman is an editorial advisor to The Architect’s Newspaper and a visiting scholar at U.C. Berkeley’s CED.
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Berkeley approves plans for city-managed homeless encampment

Amid several proposals to temporarily house members of the Bay Area's homeless community (including one that would repurpose disused cruise ships into homeless housing), a recently approved plan for the city of Berkeley is finally moving forward. Councilperson Kate Harrison presented to Berkeley's City Council—and received voter approval for—a scheme for a city-run homeless encampment that would be able to house up to 50 residents at a time during its initial trial period. Harrison's proposal would require the construction of several wind-resistant tents and accompanying plumbing services, and would necessitate trash pickup to be coordinated by city employees. She then offered a parcel on University Avenue as a potential site for the encampment before emphasizing that there are many potential properties throughout Berkeley to begin the pilot program. The project as it's currently envisioned is in line with the Governor's recent executive order to develop vacant properties throughout California into sites for affordable housing. The plan received support from Moms 4 Housing lawyer Leah Simon-Weisberg and the nonprofit group East Bay Citizens For Action, and only received minor criticism from fellow councilmembers prior to its eventual approval. Councilmember Susan Wengraf, for instance, expressed her opinion that while a solution for the city's homeless shouldn't be further delayed, Harrison's proposal would require a great number of man-hours than the city is currently able to provide, while Lori Droste questioned the status of preexisting, unlicensed camps in the area if the plan were to go forward. “We’re all tired,” Harrison responded. “We need solutions tomorrow also, but we need solutions now.”

The Berkeley city staff will spend the next few months determining an ideal site for the project as well as the manufacturers for the tents. During the encampment’s trial run, the project is expected to operate for less than a year and will largely function as a means of protection for those in need against extreme outdoor temperatures during the winter months.

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California town sues owner of the "Flintstone House" over prehistoric additions

The owner of the Bay Area’s famed “Flintstone House,” a sprawling red, orange, and purple dome home that’s become a local landmark, is facing a lawsuit over her unlawful additions—namely a menagerie of dinosaurs. The house was originally built in 1976 and designed by architect William Nicholson, who used a novel construction method to define the building’s forms. By first inflating large balloons, then spraying shotcrete over mesh and rebar, Nicholson was able to create interconnected round volumes. The building was originally off-white but rose to social media fame after being painted orange and purple in 2007 (it should be noted that in the show, the Flintstones lived in a modern-style boulder). After sitting on the market for two years, 45 Berryessa Way was sold to Florence Fang, a retired newspaper magnate, in 2017 for $2.8 million. Now Fang is embroiled in a lawsuit with the town of Hillsborough, according to the New York Times, over what officials claim were unapproved additions. Those additions? Dinosaurs so large that the town says they qualify as unenclosed structures, mushroom and animal sculptures, multicolored letters spelling out “Yabba Dabba Doo” by the driveway, a retaining wall, new steps, gates, and a life-size Fred Flintstone statue. According to the lawsuit filed on March 13, Fang was cited multiple times for adding to her property without the required permits, and her home was ultimately declared a “public nuisance” at a hearing last October. Fang was fined $200, which was paid, but the town filed the lawsuit after her changes were not reversed. Ultimately the case seems to stem from the presence of such an “outlier” house in a neighborhood filled with multimillion-dollar properties. As the suit itself alleges, the basis of the complaint is that Fang’s additions were, “designed to be very intrusive, resulting in the owner’s ‘vision’ for her property being imposed on many other properties and views, without regard to the desires of other residents.” Fang is reportedly consulting with her lawyers at this stage, and AN will follow up when further action by either party is taken.
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Chan Zuckerberg Initiative pledges $500 million for Bay Area affordable housing

Hot off Microsoft’s announcement that it would be creating what is essentially a $500 million affordable housing bank for the Seattle area, the founder of Facebook has unveiled a similar fund for California’s Bay Area. Through a group of businesses, nonprofits, and philanthropists, the Partnership for the Bay’s Future, which was established through the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, will invest $500 million to preserve and build affordable housing. That pledge from the Mark Zuckerberg and Priscilla Chan–led charity extends to San Francisco, San Mateo, Santa Clara, Alameda, and Contra Costa counties. The move, which the fund estimates will add 8,000 new units of affordable housing while preserving an existing 175,000 units over the next five-to-ten years, comes at a dire time. As Fast Company points out, only 58,000 new units were built in the Bay Area from 2012 through 2016 even though the region added 373,000 new jobs. From that perspective, it looks like the fund won’t make much of an impact, but the backing groups are hoping that they can lay the groundwork for long-term tenant protections, rent reform, and future investments. The Chan Zuckerberg Initiative revealed the Partnership for the Bay’s Future, which has already raised $260 million of its $500 million target, in a January 24 announcement. The nonprofit San Francisco Foundation joins the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, Ford Foundation, Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC), Facebook, Genentech, Kaiser Permanente, the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and the Silicon Valley Community Foundation. The partnership will focus primarily on its two Investment and Policy Funds. The $500 million Investment Fund, to be managed by LISC (which the release calls the “the largest nonprofit community development financial institution in the country”), will invest in projects agreed upon by other members of the partnership. Their first project? Offering a revolving line of credit, which can be repaid and borrowed against, to the East Bay Asian Local Development Corporation for neighborhood development in the East Bay. The organization expects that with the investment fund’s backing, it can support the completion of six projects over the next five years. The Policy Fund, which has raised $20 million of its $40 million goal, will be used to push for legislation that preserves housing, makes building new affordable housing easier, and strengthens low-income tenant protections. The fund will be administered by the San Francisco Foundation and will offer Challenge Grants for broader projects, and smaller, technically-minded Breakthrough Grants.
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BIG proposes floating villages for San Francisco Bay

Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has unveiled a speculative design proposal that aims—among many aspects—to populate the San Francisco Bay with floating villages as part of an effort to buttress the region against climate change–induced flooding. The proposal is undertaken with One Architecture + Urbanism (ONE) and Sherwood Design Engineers and is among a slate of ten newly-announced schemes generated for the Resilient By Design Bay Area Challenge, a regional competition aimed toward generating ideas for how to best protect the Bay Area from rising sea levels. Projections for the region call for a minimum of four feet in sea level rise under moderate warming conditions by 2100. The changes would bring flooding to the area much more frequently than is currently the case, a development that would devastate coastal communities. Many of those communities are built atop landfills over former marsh areas and tidal zones. BIG’s proposal takes two routes in its effort to achieve its ambitious goals. First, the plan calls for restoring Islais Creek—a stubby inlet on the San Francisco side of the Bay sandwiched between the Dogpatch and Hunters Point neighborhoods—as part a larger plan for retrofitting the entire San Francisco Bay’s edge. BIG’s conceptual masterplan for the San Francisco Bay envisions restoring the wetlands along the water’s edge lost to development while redistributing new population centers into the bay to create an urban archipelago connected by public ferries. The plan also proposes relocating and expanding the existing network of industrial, port, and warehouse activities into more compact configurations surrounded by trails, marshes, and parkland. The scheme also calls for modernizing a stretch of Interstate-101 as a “machine for autonomous collective transit,” as explained by BIG founder Bjarke Ingels in a presentation video. The plan would create a Bus Rapid Transit loop in the south Bay that will anchor and connect new density nodes. The plan would extend to the southern edges of the Bay, as well, where existing salt palm and tidal marsh areas will be revisioned into experimental urban agriculture zones. The proposal is joined by schemes from James Corner Field Operations and Hassell+, among other multidisciplinary groups, and follows a year-long research period that brought together designers, landscape architects, planners, politicians, and community activists from across the region. For more information, see the Resilient by Design: Bay area Challenge website.
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MVRDV, BIG, and James Corner Field Operations selected to future-proof Bay Area

Resilient by Design | Bay Area has chosen 10 multi-disciplinary teams to partake in the next phase of a design challenge focused on future-proofing California’s San Francisco Bay Area against the destructive effects of climate change and sea level rise. The 10 teams will partner with community members and organizations over the next nine months to develop innovative approaches for the region. The teams include several notable architecture and landscape architecture firms, including BIG, MVRDV,  and James Corner Field Operations. Each of the selected teams contains at least one community member and several of the teams are entirely Bay Area–based. Resilient by Design is modeled on Rebuild by Design, a federally-funded New York City re-visioning competition held after 2012's Hurricane Sandy. The 10 selected design teams include:
BIG + ONE + SHERWOOD Bionic Team Common Ground HASSELL+ Permaculture + Social Equity Public Sediment The All Bay Collective The Field Operations Team The Home Team Team UPLIFT
The teams were each awarded $250,000 to engage in research over the next three months and to work with community members to analyze chosen sites with the eventual goal of crafting an adaptation strategy for a specific project location by May. “Resilient by Design is creating a blueprint for the world, bring together community members and experts to show how we can collectively tackle climate change,” Amanda Brown-Stevens, managing director of Resilient by Design | Bay Area Challenge, told The Architect’s Newspaper. “We know that it is time for something different, a new approach that matches our new reality but draws on who we are and what we have always been able to do: think differently, innovate, come together, and adapt.” Formal announcements for team and site pairings will be timed to coincide with California Governor Jerry Brown’s scheduled Global Climate Action Summit in December. The most recent announcement comes after the Bay Area Challenge was awarded a $4.6 million grant from the Rockefeller Foundation earlier this year.
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Rockefeller Foundation awards $4.6-million to fight sea level rise in Bay Area

This week, the Rockefeller Foundation awarded $4.6 million to the Bay Area: Resilient by Design Challenge team, a collection of San Francisco Bay Area organizations looking to use a public competition to develop approaches for fortifying the region’s infrastructure against the growing threat of climate change and sea level rise. The funds will allow this collection of municipal and non-profit organizations to develop regionally- and ecologically-focused infrastructural resiliency schemes throughout 10 sites spread across the Bay Area. The competition timeline will be divided into two phases. First, starting in April, the teams will participate in a three-month-long research and community engagement exercise aimed at developing initial design concepts for the specific sites with a "multi-faceted approach to resiliency." The teams will then have five months to design—working with community members and local municipalities—implementable infrastructure projects. Bay Area: Resilient by Design Challenge is modeled after the Rockefeller Foundation’s Rebuild by Design Hurricane Sandy Design Competition developed in the aftermath of the devastation caused by Hurricane Sandy on the eastern seaboard by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and The Rockefeller Foundation in 2012. Bay Area: Resilient by Design will work closely with The Rockefeller Foundation’s 100 Resilient Cities network, which is organized to assist 100 cities around the world in building urban resilience. The Bay Area region is home to three network cities—San Francisco, Berkeley, and Oakland—and is already in the midst of planning for future perils. Those three cities worked in 2016 to develop future-oriented resiliency strategies that will now influence the forthcoming competition. Allison Brooks, executive director of the Bay Area Regional Collaborative (BARC)—an organization that coordinates the planning efforts of the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG), the Bay Area Air Quality Management District (BAAQMD), the Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC), and the Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC)—speaking to The Architect’s Newspaper over telephone, said, “We’re bringing in people from all over the world who have been grappling with this issue." Brooks and fellow organizers behind Bay Area: Resilient by Design Challenge will spend the next several months identifying sites across the Bay Area to feature in the competition while also working with local communities to identify specific needs. Brooks added, "We're not responding to a catastrophic disaster but a slow-moving disaster. The region has organized its most dense development and valuable infrastructure around a Bay that is expanding as a result of sea level rise.” Recent studies indicate that the level of the bay may rise between three- and four-feet between now and 2100. The nine-county region surrounding the San Francisco Bay is home to roughly 7-million inhabitants and is especially threatened by sea level rise, as many of the region’s key population and economic centers are located along the bay itself. For more information on the competition, see the Rebuild by Design website.
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This Japanese collective of designers and programmers is reimagining art, architecture, interactivity

The internet is hotly debating whether 2016 is the year virtual reality goes mainstream: New headset displays like Oculus Rift and Google Cardboard may bring immersive digital experiences to the masses. However, Japanese art collective teamLab has long been pursuing its own complex approach to digital environments. Unlike a headset, its interactive installations don’t privilege a single optical perspective. Many encourage you to move around or through them; your actions can even make them morph, mutate, and evolve. TeamLab’s show, located in the heart of Silicon Valley, gathers 20 of its works into a 20,000-square-foot digital interactive art extravaganza.

Founded in 2001, teamLab began with web design but now boasts a 400-member-strong group—which includes animators, programmers, architects, and more— who collaborate on everything from office interiors to software. The work’s whimsy belies its technical complexity: For instance, the LED cloud of Crystal Universe changes its dazzling colors and patterns based on visitors’ movements and a custom app. “The viewer is an active participant and ultimately becomes a part of the artwork,” said teamLab.

The collective also cites what it calls “Ultra Subjective Space” as inspiration: There’s no privileged position to experience its art. The piece Flowers and People, Cannot be Controlled but Live Together–A Whole Year per Hour stretches across the walls of an entire room. Like in Crystal Universe, sensors and software constantly react to your movements, guaranteeing one display—seen from afar or up close—will never be exactly repeated.

Some exhibits go even further. Sketch Town and Sketch Town Papercraft let children color in a paper outline of a car that is then scanned, converted into 3-D, and inserted into a dynamic animated city. There, the children can move their digital cars—and other children’s as well—with their hands. They can even print a paper version of their car and fold it into a toy. “This project aims to encourage children to become aware of what the child next to them is drawing or creating,” said teamLab. “They may come to think it would be more fun to build something together.”

Paradoxically, it’s the art’s shared physical spaces that make teamLab’s virtual realities more social. “As people become part of the same space and artwork, the relationship between self and others changes.”

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This mapping tool shows the effects of gentrification and displacement in the Bay Area

Researchers at UCLA and the UC-Berkeley are mapping neighborhood change in the Bay Area. The Urban Displacement Project uses government housing, land use, transportation, and Census data from 1990–2013 to find markers that represent turnover in housing, demographic shifts, and new investment. Led by UC-Berkeley's Karen Chapple and Miriam Zuk, researchers divided the nine-county Bay Area’s 1,569 Census tracts into low- and high-income tracts. Low-income tracts were defined as areas where 39 percent of households earn 80 percent less than each county’s median income, and high income tracts where less than 39 percent of households are considered low income. Low- and high-income tracts were categorized by residential displacement “risk factors.” Significantly, the report defines “gentrification” and “displacement” differently. Displacement is defined as a net loss of low income residents, while “gentrification” is tangible evidence of neighborhood investment and/or an influx of more affluent residents. This is important because, as the researchers found, gentrification in some areas happened before displacement, while in others, displacement comes first or occurs at the same time as gentrification. Lower income tracts were assessed for risk of gentrification and displacement, while higher income tracts were assessed for displacement risk only. Overall, 51 percent of tracts did not experience significant displacement, while 48 percent are losing low-income residents. Researchers found that 422 tracts are “at risk” of displacing poor residents, while 165 are “currently experiencing displacement.” The map is intended as a resource for community groups taking action to prevent displacement. The data is retrospective, shedding light on regional population trends. Planners, however, cannot use the data to make sure predictions about where gentrification and displacement is likely to occur in the future. The data doesn’t reveal where displaced residents move to, or account for other qualitative factors that may prompt a move. Transportation planning and development can benefit a lower-income area, if officials take into account the economic and social needs of the existing population. Some areas, including  East Palo Alto, and Marin City, have actively forestalled displacement with housing subsidies and community organizing.