Posts tagged with "San Francisco":

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The Commonwealth Club’s San Francisco headquarters honors its union history

The slow days of summer are a good time to catch up on important projects that somehow fell through the editorial cracks during the year. One such project is the Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects (LMS)-designed headquarters for the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco. The Club, one of the institutions that make San Francisco such a unique and progressive city, was founded in 1903; as a public affairs forum, it presents more than 450 events a year. It has been looking for a home since it was founded and its “early plans to acquire a headquarters building were derailed by the 1906 earthquake.” A few years ago, the organization purchased a site fronting San Francisco’s Embarcadero waterfront boulevard that was occupied by a building almost as old as the organization and once the home of the city’s Longshoreman’s Association. The dock workers union was led by Harry Bridges, who famously shut down the city for four days in 1934, and for a city proud of its union history, this qualifies as an important historic site. LMS have created a fitting monument and organization headquarters on the Embarcadero. The firm designed a workable plan for the Club that includes two auditoria, meeting rooms, a library, gallery, boardroom, roof terrace, catering facilities, and a state-of-the-art audio/broadcast system and high-tech communications platform for the club’s weekly radio broadcast. But the firm’s most important addition to the new headquarters is its facade design, and the building, as a pass-through property, has two entrances. The Steuart Street entrance was the principal entry for the longshoremen, and is where three workers were shot (two of whom died on what is called “Bloody Thursday”), which was preserved by the architects as an important historical marker. But on the Embarcadero, which is one of the most important thoroughfares in San Francisco, LMS designed a beautifully detailed new glass curtain wall facade. The curtainwall is clear glass with operable windows that highlight the top floor auditorium where the lectures and talks take place, and opens up to welcome the city inside. It’s a beautiful and elegant public face for this important public policy institution, and Marsha Maytum claims “we were thrilled to be able to create a home for civil discourse that is needed more than ever.”
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San Francisco considers banning employee cafeterias

To the chagrin of downtown delis, pizza joints, and taquerias everywhere, tech companies in San Francisco have found yet another treasured urban tradition to disrupt: lunch.  Specifically, in recent years, as San Francisco’s South of Market neighborhood has been transformed by the arrival of sizable offices for Twitter, Uber, Google, and others, street life in the area has fizzled. The culprit, critics say, are the free lunches often provided by tech companies to their employees, one of the many perks used to lure new hires and build team morale. A potential side effect, however, is that office workers no longer go out to eat as often as in the past, and the shift is threatening to upend the livelihoods of businesses that have traditionally catered to the nine-to-five crowd. In response, San Francisco Supervisors Aaron Peskin and Ahsha Safaí have introduced a new city ordinance that would ban start-up style “employee cafeterias” from new office developments. The bill would aim to curb employers from providing free or tax-free food to their workers on a regular basis but would have no effect on the 51 cafeterias currently in operation across the city. Safaí told The San Francisco Chronicle that the ban was about instigating a cultural shift, adding, “This is about getting people out of their office, interacting with the community and adding to the vibrancy of the community.” In a statement, Peskin explained the motion would also hold companies accountable for the promises they made while pursuing approvals from the city. He said, "Many of these companies touted the boost their employees would have on our local economy, only to provide everything from round-the-clock gourmet catering to dry-cleaning on-site.” The measure, if passed, would be the second such initiative in the region, following a precedent set by nearby Mountain View. There, the municipality forbade Facebook from subsidizing employee meals as part of a recent expansion in a bid to get the tech company to engage economically with the local community.  Michael Kasperzak, the former Mountain View mayor who helped craft the 2014 ordinance told The Chronicle, “It really was geared more around trying to make sure we didn’t have 400,000 square feet of office space with people that never left the building.”

The initiative has not been expanded to include other businesses yet, but could potentially apply to a new 595,000-square-foot, tent-like headquarters Google, BIG, and Heatherwick Studio are planning in the city. There, designers have proactively included plans for publicly-accessible cafes and dining areas that would be shared with Google employees. 

The San Francisco Board of Supervisors is due to take up its proposed ban later this year. 
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San Francisco’s public toilets get a futuristic redesign

San Francisco is one step closer to finalizing the redesign of its public, self-cleaning toilets.  On Monday, the city selected a futuristic design concept created by SmithGroupJJR from a trio proposals that included bids by Min Design and Branch Creative. The three finalists were unveiled in April, with SmithGroupJJR ultimately selected in an effort to boost the contemporary stylings of the city’s public facilities, according to the San Francisco Department of Public Works. Initially, 12 teams were in the running for the design competition.  The public toilets will operated by bus stop advertising agency JCDecaux and will be funded via income generated from informational and retail kiosks that will be deployed in conjunction with the toilets.  Bill Katz, design principal at SmithGroupJJR, told The San Francisco Chronicle, “The big idea is to combine sculpture and technology. We want an object that literally reflects the surroundings and the neighborhoods that it is in, but also will be forward-looking.” The changes come more than 20 years after San Francisco debuted an initial, Art Nouveaux-inspired public toilet concept in 1996 that has been loved and hated alike by the public. The forest green-colored, pill-shaped facilities are currently dispersed throughout San Francisco’s urban core and are also used in Los Angeles, among other localities. In all, the city aims to install or replace 28 public toilets and 114 kiosks in conjunction with the redesign.  The proposed bathroom facilities will make use of recycled water and are wrapped in reflective metal panels. Current plans call for topping the structures with a rooftop garden. Renderings for the concept include an integrated bench assembly and a ground-level planter, as well.  The new proposals, however, are not uniformly loved, either. Darcy Brown, executive director of the San Francisco Beautiful group, told The Chronicle, [It’s a] “pity we lean toward ‘modern,’ which has a shelf life, as opposed to classic, which is timeless.” San Francisco Beautiful opposed all three of the redesign concepts.  Next, SmithGroupJJR’s proposal will next head to the San Francisco Arts Commission and the Historic Preservation Commission for joint approval. Approval is expected in the fall.
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Here’s what to expect at Facades+AM in San Francisco this week

On June 7th, 2018, The Architect’s Newspaper will once again bring the Facades+AM conference to San Francisco. AN has put together a stellar lineup of speakers and presenters for the day-long event that promises to give a granular view of some of the most exciting developing technologies in the realm of high-performance facade design that have emerged in recent years, as building integration, resilient buildings, and sustainable design have taken a deeper hold in the architecture, engineering, and construction industry. The day’s program will be opened with a welcome by Emilie Hagen, associate director of Atelier Ten. Hagen helps lead Atelier Ten’s San Francisco team and is a member of the Facade Tectonics Steering Committee. Atelier Ten is currently at work on a slew of high-tech, globally-significant projects, including the forthcoming Google headquarters in London with BIG and Thomas Heatherwick, and has previously worked on the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art expansion with Snøhetta. The opening remarks will be followed by a panel discussion titled “Beyond Little Boxes: Innovations in Facade Design and Delivery” that will focus on the radical transformations occurring within the Bay Area’s building stock, as the city densifies and builds out new residential, medical, and college campuses. The panel will feature Stanley Saitowitz, principal of Natoma Architects; Shruti Kasarekar, associate at Atelier Ten; and Mark Cavagnero, founding partner of Mark Cavagnero Associates.  That discussion will be followed by a deep dive into the design of SHoP’s new headquarters in San Francisco’s Mission Bay for carshare company Uber. The 423,000-square-foot project, focused around the delivery of an iconic and operable façade, will include an 11-story tower as well as a shaded patio overlooked by operable walls, among other components. AN has organized a panel featuring Alex Cox, development manager at Permasteelisato; Karen Brandt, senior principal at Heintges; Ryan Donaghy, senior associate at SHoP; Sameer Kumar, director of enclosure at SHoP; and Thilo Wilhelmsen, tender leader at Josef Gartner, to discuss how the design team has redefined conventional facade performance characteristics for the project.  Next, the conference will delve into some of the Bay Area’s newest premier projects—like the Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects-designed Salesforce Tower and Transbay Terminal and the Manica Architecture-designed Golden State Warriors Arena—in a panel titled “Signature San Francisco: Delivering the Bay Area’s Next Generation of Facades.” The discussion will include Mirjam Link, senior project manager at Boston Properties; Sanjeev Tankha, director at Walter P Moore; and Daniel J. Dupuis, principal at Kendall Heaton. The conference will also include a pair of “extra credit” lunch-and-learn presentations focused on perimeter fire barrier systems and on laminated glass railing design led by industry leaders STI Firestop and Trosifol. For more information, see the Facades+AM website.
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Another Halprin-designed plaza could be on the chopping block, this time in San Francisco

Depending on how things go, the Lawrence Halprin-designed United Nations Plaza and fountain in San Francisco could soon be demolished. The brick-lined open space is punctuated by a jagged, sunken fountain made of rough-shorn granite blocks and is installed in the city’s Civic Center district, an area that is undergoing redevelopment as the city seeks to beautify and enliven existing pedestrian areas. Though not designed as a commemorative work, when it opened in 1975, the fountain was dedicated to the signing of the U.N. charter, an event that took place in the Veterans War Memorial Building near the site of the future fountain in 1945. The opening marked the 30th anniversary of the signing and originally heralded the fountain as a civic work of global significance. The fountain was designed by Halprin, who worked in concert with architects Mario Ciampi and John Carl Warnecke as part of an urban redevelopment scheme for the area. At Halprin’s office, Don Carter worked as principal-in-charge for the project with Angela Danadjieva—lead designer for Halprin’s Freeway Park in Seattle—as landscape architect. The fountain was designed starting in 1962 during Halprin’s Modernist period; when the fountain debuted 13 years later, it contained a futuristic set of features, including computerized spray nozzles that could detect strong winds and dial-down in power in response, as to not spray passersby with water. Art and Architecture reports that the high-tech, Sierra-inspired fountain also came with an artful tidal pool installation inspired by San Francisco’s tides that cycled every hour. Greenery, including large trees, originally surrounded the fountain, as well.  The fountain was designed according to a concept called “motation,” a method for scoring how one’s perception of the environment changes depending on the speed and motion of the observer, according to The Cultural Landscape Foundation (TCLF). The fountain’s stacked blocks are carved with inscriptions and represent each of earth’s seven continents. The work, 165-feet long and articulated raucously as a set of stepped, interactive cascades, acts as a gateway connecting Market Street with the Asian Art Museum, the Orpheum Theater, a public library, and eventually, the Civic Center Plaza fronting City Hall. Today, the fountain is suffering from disrepair and neglect, with the tidal pools long-extinguished and most of the surrounding vegetation gone. The Civic Center BART and Muni station has recently come into the spotlight as open-air, intravenous drug use has become more prevalent within its corridors. Sandwiched between the city’s rapidly-gentrifying Tenderloin and South of Market districts, the areas above and within the station are often populated by people experiencing homelessness, a long-standing site condition that precedes even the 1975 renovations. The plaza spaces were “hardened” against this type of occupation in the early 2000s when all of the benches were removed and the fountain was briefly shut down. Starting in 2005, however, the plaza became home to a twice-weekly farmers market that continues to draw crowds. Plans are currently underway by CMG Landscape Architecture to redesign the plaza in tow with surrounding streets and open spaces as part of the Civic Center Public Realm Plan. The plan is managed by San Francisco’s planning department in conjunction with multiple local agencies and seeks to soften the area by promoting pedestrian use of the spaces surrounding San Francisco City Hall while repairing some of the planning mistakes of the past, like the lack of concessions and playgrounds in the area. The design team includes Gehl Studio, HR&A, InterEthnica, Kennerly Architecture + Planning, Lotus Water, Structus, M. Lee, JS Nolan, architecture + history, and HRA Engineering. CMG is currently soliciting public opinion on a trio of redevelopment proposals, only one of which retains the iconic fountain.  The three proposals seek to redesign the space, with each presenting a different approach to shifting the overriding character of the three interlocking plaza spaces that make up the open space sequence between Market Street and City Hall.  First, the “Culture Connector” plan aims to connect the three “flex” plazas with two runs of general-purpose open spaces lined with gridded street trees. The proposal would modify Halprin’s fountain in order to transform it into a kids’ bouldering playground. A pair of larger playgrounds would ring the Civic Center Plaza in the scheme, with collections of kiosks and pavilions scattering the site.  The “Public Platform” plan aims to resignify the plazas’ function as space for protest and political gatherings by creating a more open plaza at the fore of City Hall that will be flanked by lawns. Here, fewer trees would be present while new concessions structures are to be consolidated in larger buildings at key entry points to the main square. In this scheme, the plaza fountain would be replaced with a new interactive waterwork. The “Civic Sanctuary” scheme proposes to reconfigure the plaza areas into lawns while garden rooms and a sculpture gardens ring other areas of the site. The scheme—geared toward preserving the historic elements of the plaza complex—would retain the water fountain, though plans call for removing some of the taller stone elements of the installation. The fast and loose proposals raise questions regarding the care—or lack thereof—being taken with the Halprin-designed fountain as plans are being made for the future of the UN Plaza and surrounding spaces. Charles Birnbaum, president and CEO of TCLF, described the fountain as having a “high degree of integrity” and as a “slam-dunk landscape architecture contribution for the National Register of Historic Places.” Birnbaum explained that planners are mistaken to casually call for the elimination of a piece of high civic art via a public opinion survey and that the work was among the most intact of Halprin’s surviving San Francisco works. The fountain is eligible for the National Register and is actually located in an existing historic district, but under a designation that does not include the 1970s-era changes to the area. As a result, efforts to hastily rework the Civic Center’s public spaces threaten to sacrifice one of San Francisco’s major civic art works in lieu of seemingly generic and temporary sculptures. Further, the salad bar approach presented in the schemes—individual elements of from each of the proposals are also up for consideration, allowing the schemes to be mixed and matched—leaves much to be desired for Birnbaum, who would rather see more thoughtful community engagement for the site. Halprin—the “father of public engagement” according to Birnbaum—was known for artful collaboration with clients and users in his efforts to find responsive approaches for his often-interactive works and landscapes. For now, San Francisco will continue to collect public input through the summer so that the design team can generate a singular proposal for formal consideration. 
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Salesforce Tower’s massive light show to permanently illuminate San Francisco’s skyline

Salesforce Tower’s nine-story steel topper is set to light up San Francisco permanently starting tomorrow night, as video artist Jim Campbell’s enormous animations will start broadcasting from the top. The tower’s 130-foot-tall, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects-designed crown is hollow and has been clad in perforated aluminum panels–ostensibly to lessen the bullet-shaped building’s impact on the skyline. Using imagery from cameras scattered around the city (and 11,000 LEDs inside of the crown), Campbell will translate traffic, the sky, and each night’s sunsets into a public art piece visible for 20 miles in every direction. The fleeting, ephemeral images are an ode to the city’s vibrancy and energy. During a test run last Wednesday, giant ballerinas could be seen dancing across a beige background over 1,000 feet in the air. The tower’s signature piece, Day for Night, will start by showing the colors of that night’s sunset, followed by constellations against the night sky until the sun rises again. While the top nine floors of the Salesforce Tower are unoccupied and were used to push the building into “tallest in San Francisco” territory, only the upper six floors will be used to stage Campbell’s installation. The remaining three will hold the required equipment and will be bathed in a strong light to form a base for the animation above. While the punctured panels could theoretically show any images, Campbell swears that his work won’t be used for advertisements or to mark holidays. As for the electricity use? It’s the same as “five toaster ovens,” Campbell told the San Francisco Chronicle. The developers, designers, and engineers behind Salesforce Tower will be presenting on their work at the next Facades+ conference in San Francisco, taking place on June 7.
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Keith Krumwiede appointed new architecture dean at California College of the Arts

California College of the Arts (CCA) has named Keith Krumwiede as its new dean of architecture. Krumwiede comes to CCA from the American Academy in Rome, where he is currently a Rome Prize Fellow in Architecture. Krumwiede is an award-winning educator who has explored the relationship between architecture and its cultural, social, and political contexts in his prior work, including most recently in a book titled Atlas of Another America: An Architectural Fiction.  The 2016 book is written as a satirical assessment of the American Dream that takes place in a “fictional, but uncannily familiar, suburban utopia,” according to a press release. In 2017, the book received an Association of Collegiate Schools of Architecture Faculty Design Award. Keith Krumwiede’s appointment as dean of architecture follows the appointments of Allison Smith as dean of CCA’s fine arts department and of Tina Takemoto as the new dean of humanities and sciences earlier this spring. The appointments come amid a major expansion of the CCA campus in San Francisco by Chicago-based Studio Gang that aims to consolidate the school’s disparate campuses into a unified whole. Recently-revealed renderings for the expansion highlight a collection of open structures surrounding an elevated terrace as well as new multi-functional courtyards that will connect the old and new structures.  The school also recently completed a new student apartment building by Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects that will work toward CCA’s goal of adding up to 1,000 additional beds to the campus’s residential accommodations by 2025. 
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Architectural League announces winners of 2018 prize for Young Architects + Designers

The Architectural League of New York has announced the winners of its 37th annual Architectural League Prize for Young Architects + Designers, meant to highlight and foster up-and-coming architectural and design talent. This year’s theme, Objective, asked entrants to examine the role of objectivity in today’s society when the notion is simultaneously elevated as well as undermined by technology, science, and politics. If we truly do live in a post-truth world, what does objectivity mean for architecture? The 2018 winners, decided through a portfolio competition, are as follows: Anya Sirota of Akoaki, Detroit Akoaki was cofounded by Sirota and Jean Louis Farges in 2008. The Detroit-based architecture and design studio explores reviving urban spaces in their home city through the use of eye-catching temporary installations that encourage public participation. Some of their more otherworldly designs include a frost generator and a trompe l’oeil “red carpet” in Los Angeles. Sirota is an assistant professor of architecture at the University of Michigan’s Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning. Bryony Roberts of Bryony Roberts Studio, New York Bryony Roberts is a New York-based research and design firm founded in 2011 that actively combines, art, architecture, and preservation. Bryony Roberts actively works to reinvigorate historical places with new life, and the firm has worked on everything from a series of marble tile studies to choreographing dancers in Rome. Roberts herself is an adjunct professor of architecture and preservation at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Architecture, Planning, and Preservation. Gabriel Cuéllar and Athar Mufreh of Cadaster, Brooklyn The Brooklyn-based Cadaster, founded in 2016 by Cuéllar and Mufreh, is an architecture studio whose work explores the cross-section between architecture and territory. Their most recent work includes the research project Subversive Real Estate: The Landholding Patterns of American Black Churches, and Upstate Ecologies: Regional Vision for the New York Canal System, the firm’s entry into the international planning competition for the future of New York State’s canal systems. Coryn Kempster of Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster, Buffalo Julia Jamrozik and Coryn Kempster, cofounded by Kempster and Julia Jamrozik in 2014, focuses on the roles that experience and memory play in architecture. The Buffalo-based firm has built abstract play fields and super-efficient single family homes, but the same attention to detail and user interaction is found throughout their portfolio. Kempster is an adjunct assistant professor of architecture at the State University of New York at Buffalo. Alison Von Glinow and Lap Chi Kwong of Kwong Von Glinow, Chicago Kwong Von Glinow was founded in 2017 by Von Glinow and Kwong and operates out of Chicago. While still young, the architecture studio has already won plenty of recognition for its radical reinterpretation of forms, including its plans for a modular apartment tower in New York and community-centered apartment high-rises in Hong Kong. Kwong teaches as an adjunct professor of architecture at the Illinois Institute of Technology, and Von Glinow is a part-time professor of architecture at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Dan Spiegel of SAW // Spiegel Aihara Workshop, San Francisco SAW // Spiegel Aihara Workshop, co-founded in 2011 by Spiegel and Megumi Aihara, works at the intersection between architecture and urban design. Their portfolio spans everything from the front desk of the Casper office to a try-on truck for lingerie startup True & Co. SAW was also recently recognized with an AN 2017 Best of Design Awards for Young Architects. Spiegel currently teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, and California College of the Arts. The jury for this year’s prize was composed of 2018 Young Architects + Designers Committee, as well as Tatiana Bilbao, Jorge Otero-Pailos, Georgeen Theodore, and Claire Weisz. From June 21 through August 4, an exhibition featuring an installation from each of the winners will be installed at the Sheila C. Johnson Design Center at the Parsons School of Design / The New School, Arnold and Sheila Aronson Galleries, 66 Fifth Avenue. On June 21 at 7:00 PM, Gabriel Cuéllar and Athar Mufreh, Coryn Kempster, and Bryony Roberts will be giving lectures in the exhibition space. On June 22 at 7:00 PM, Alison Von Glinow and Lap Chi Kwong, Anya Sirota, and Dan Spiegel will be giving their lectures in the same location. The Architectural League has also announced the publication of Young Architects 18: (im)permanence, a collection of projects from the 2016 League Prize Winners.
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Studio Gang unveils new renderings for CCA expansion

Studio Gang and California College of the Arts (CCA) have unveiled new renderings for a planned three-year expansion of the school’s San Francisco campus.  The renderings offer the first glimpse into how the Chicago-based architects will rework the arts college as CCA moves to consolidate its San Francisco and East Bay campuses by taking over a parking lot adjacent to the original school site in San Francisco’s Mission Bay neighborhood. Renderings depict four rectangular buildings set on an elevated plinth behind the existing school, with a pair of sunken courtyards and lawn spaces populating the areas between the buildings. The concrete-wrapped podium steps down to meet the existing school, leaving a third, block-long courtyard space in between the two structures. The new buildings, according to the renderings, are designed with perimeter circulation wrapping enclosed classroom spaces and feature what looks like heavy timber construction. The buildings are shown with large-scale super truss elements along exterior walls and are topped by solar arrays. CCA’s expansion will also include a residential component by additional architects including Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects that seeks to add up to 1,000 additional beds to the campus’s residential accommodations by 2025.  The campus expansion is being designed to house the college’s 2,000 students, 600 faculty members, 250 staff members, and 34 academic programs all one site, as outlined by the school’s “Framing the Future” visioning plan, a scheme developed in 2015 by Gensler and MKthink to guide the school’s next 85 years.  Studio Gang beat out Michael Maltzan Architects and Allied Works for the commission in 2016 and the firm is expected to release more information on the expansion later this summer. The full campus is slated to open for the 2020–2021 academic year.
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Electric scooter companies receive cease-and-desist letter from City of San Francisco

San Francisco City Attorney Dennis Herrera has filed a cease-and-desist order targeting the privately-operated dockless scooters that have seemingly taken over downtown San Francisco streets in recent weeks.  In a letter sent to the three dockless scooter companies currently operating in the city, Herrera decried the upstarts for “continu(ing) to operate an unpermitted motorized scooter rental program in the City and County of San Francisco, creating a public nuisance on the city’s streets and sidewalks, and endangering public health and safety,” SFGate reports.  The three companies—Bird, Spin, and LimeBike—have been operating throughout pockets of the city for at least the last three weeks, offering motorized scooter services for roughly a dollar per ride plus a per-minute fee. The Bird service was founded by Travis VanderZanden, a former Uber employee, while LimeBike started off as a dockless bikeshare company that has recently branched out to provide e-scooter services via its “Lime-S” scooters in San Diego, Washington, D.C., Los Angeles, Austin, and San Francisco, The Austin Statesman reports. Spin was founded in 2016 in San Francisco by Y Combinator, Uber, and Lyft alumni and offers both dockless bikeshare and dockless e-scooter services. The move comes as the San Francisco Board of Supervisors moves to consider initial regulations for the nascent industry, which has drawn complains from San Francisco residents for cluttering driveways and sidewalks with unused or broken scooters. Residents have also complained of e-scooters being used on sidewalks to the detriment of pedestrians, including disabled residents. The use of motorized vehicles on sidewalks is currently illegal in California. Via an open letter published on its website from Bird CEO VanderZanden, the company maintains a “save our sidewalks” policy that aims to return one dollar for each scooter in operation to the city while also pledging to maintain “responsible growth” and promote responsible scooter etiquette among its users.  Dockless bikeshare and e-scooter industries have sprung up across the country in recent years as traditional bikeshare programs have flourished unevenly across American cities, often leaving behind communities of color and ignoring areas outside the city core. The new services often bill themselves are more convenient alternatives because the “smart” vehicles can be left and picked up seemingly anywhere due to their app-based location services and do not require expensive docking stations.  But because municipal regulations largely do not exist for e-scooters and dockless bicycle systems have not typically undergone stringent environmental reviews, these services have created controversy wherever they have sprung up. The San Francisco Boards of Supervisors is set to take up e-scooter regulations later today. 
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NICOLEHOLLIS studio designs a high-contrast office for itself in San Francisco

Almost every architect has horror stories about the Client from Hell, the unpleasant entity whose capriciousness or bad taste leaves the designer fuming. Arguably, though, the hardest client to design for is yourself. San Francisco’s NICOLEHOLLIS studio took on the tough task of designing an office for itself, in an old loft in the city’s South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood. Whereas it formerly ran its business in an old machine shop, the studio now operates out of a 5,000-square-foot single-floor office in a building that could command a corner in SoHo or Tribeca. The build-out, led by Hollis, takes advantage of “terrific” natural light and gorgeous views across the city to offer its designers (and visiting clients) an elegant, high-contrast office that’s both a lab for deep focus and a collaborative, social workspace. The office is a study in black, white, and light. Working with Inna Baranova, the studio director for interior architecture, and Adele Cunningham, the studio director for residential projects, Hollis crafted custom white central workstations with built-in standing desks that are both naturally lit and illuminated with FontanaArte’s Avico pendants. Although it’s often tough for light to reach the center of the floor plate in converted 19th-century factory buildings, NICOLEHOLLIS had the opposite problem—windows on all four sides. Hollis said she and her team used window treatments and UV filters on all the window panes. Conference rooms occupy prime window real estate, because clients like to soak up the views, she added. NICOLEHOLLIS carefully considered employee areas, too. Office kitchens are often drab afterthought spaces, decorated only with break-room signage and passive-aggressive Post-it notes. Hollis designed an island that encourages her staff to socialize, and there’s a large table for family style lunches. Back at work, the materials library is divided by boards charred using shou sugi ban, a Japanese technique that burns wood to preserve it. Throughout, the office is sandwiched by gray poured-concrete floors and a white concrete ceiling. “The white allows us to clear our heads and take a fresh look at our work,” Hollis said in an email. “Black is grounding and adds depth and shadow in contrast to bright light.” Hollis’s custom piece near the entrance exemplifies the NICOLEHOLLIS approach. “The reception desk is my ode to Donald Judd,” she said. “I take a lot of my cues from fine art. I love Judd’s work—its spatiality and relationship to context. The desk is also mirror polished brass and makes a strong statement about the studio’s ties to materiality and craftsmanship.” The studio works mostly in California, on residential and commercial projects, including plenty of offices. Hollis said the firm recently completed a Silicon Valley office, and it designed an office for HALL Wines, in the Napa Valley. But there’s another office project closer to home. NICOLEHOLLIS now boasts more than 50 employees, so Hollis and her team are looking to expand the space they’re in now with individual work spaces, as well as more conference rooms, materials libraries, and dining areas.
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CCA converts a vacant-ish lot into an experimental art playscape

The Designing Material Innovation exhibition—co-presented by the California College of the Arts (CCA) and the University of Michigan Taubman College of Architecture and Urban Planning at the CCA campus in San Francisco—aims to utilize contemporary architectural research in an effort to envision potential futures for the school’s backlot. The exhibition consists of five experimental architectural pavilions built to test new conceptual approaches in the realms of materiality, fabrication, and design. The pavilions, crafted with industry and academic partners, also attempt to articulate new ways of working outdoors in an effort to help guide designs for a forthcoming campus expansion by Studio Gang. Designs for the expansion are still in the works, but the scheme is expected to rely on a network of socially-driven outdoor workspaces and venues—Designing Material Innovation will act as a pop-up of sorts, testing the limits of what is possible outdoors at the CCA. The exhibition was curated by Jonathan Massey—the current dean at Taubman College and recent dean of architecture at CCA—who brought together APTUM Architecture, MATSYS, the CCA Digital Craft Lab, T+E+A+M, and Matter Design for the show. Exhibition design for the showcase came from Oakland, California–based Endemic Architecture, who created a “confetti urbanism” installation for the site that whimsically reworks existing furnishings into a playscape that hosts the experimental pavilions, as well as give students a place to fabricate their projects. “Designing Material Innovation shows how designers and industry leaders partner to achieve great things, whether that is making concrete structures light and delicate, promoting ecological diversity, or repurposing waste,” Massey said. APTUM Architecture collaborated with Mexican building materials company CEMEX to devise new methods of testing fiber-reinforced methods to pursue extremely thin concrete shell structures. The ten-foot-by-ten-foot pavilion is made of interlocking concrete arches that are only one-third of an inch thick. A second vaulted pavilion was made by Oakland-based MATSYS with help from the CCA Digital Craft Lab. The complexly curved shell structure was robotically milled from foam waste and is coated in synthetic resin. The Buoyant Ecologies Float Lab by the CCA Digital Craft Lab and Kreysler & Associates comprises a “floating composite shell structure” according to the exhibition website, and was fabricated using fiber-reinforced polymers. T+E+A+M and University of Michigan came together to generate a “new architectural order” made from “plasticglomerate,” an amalgamation of rocks and plastic waste cast into a grouped cluster of columns. The final team—Matter Design and Massachusetts Institute of Technology—fabricated a 16-foot-tall, 2,000-pound glass fiber reinforced concrete sculpture that pivots and moves freely despite its hefty appearance. Taken together, the installations offer not just a glimpse into the future of material experimentation, but pique interest in Studio Gang’s forthcoming additions, as well.