Posts tagged with "San Francisco":

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New details emerge for major plan to urbanize San Francisco’s Treasure Island

Despite being recently rebuffed as the potential site for the forthcoming MAD Architects–designed Lucas Museum of Narrative Art, San Francisco officials are moving ahead with plans to expand the city's sleepy Treasure Island district into a lively residential enclave and tourist destination. The city recently revealed plans to add a bevy of cultural institutions and up to 20,000 residents to the man-made island, which sits in the San Francisco Bay halfway between San Francisco and Oakland.San Francisco Arts Commission have developed an arts-focused master plan for the island in conjunction with urban and architectural master plans developed by SOM and Perkins + Will The plans, overseen by the Treasure Island Development Authority and the San Francisco Arts Commission, would see the island's public offerings expanded, beginning with a new series of public art installations. Eventually, the island—which is accessible only via its connection to Yerba Buena Island and the Bay Bridge—could add up to 8,500 new residential units and 550,000 square feet of commercial space. The island’s art program will be pursued using a projected $50 million fund generated by contributions made toward the city’s 1% for Art in Private Development fund as a result of the new development. According to a planning document released by the development authority, in the case of Treasure Island, the 1% for Art in Private Development funds will be applied toward the installation of public artworks on public lands. Generally speaking, the Treasure Island master plan, which includes the adjacent Yerba Buena Island in its scope, calls for leaving some 75% of the available land area free of development, with the remainder being plotted out as relatively dense mixed-use neighborhoods. The plan would focus on multi-modal complete streets designs in order to create a “network of parks and streets… [with] sunny, sheltered public space that is enlivened by artwork, buildings of enduring interest and active ground floor uses” while also reducing the island’s dependence on automobile traffic. The plan, according to the documents, would cluster development along the southern and western edges of the roughly rectangular island in a series of perimeter block formations. The project was selected in 2009 as one of 16 founding projects of the Climate Positive Development Program, part of the Clinton Foundation’s Clinton Climate Initiative grants supporting “climate positive” urban developments. For more information on the project, see the Treasure Island Development Authority website. The full plan is available here.
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Fougeron Architecture uses an unusual rainscreen and sculptural stairs to enliven multifamily housing

400 Grove—a formerly vacant parcel that is now a 34-unit market-rate development by Fougeron Architects in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley—boasts a facade on Gough Street articulated by exaggerated bays along its uppermost floors, and pierced by a zigzagging, five-story-tall opening. The floors closer to the street feature opposing geometries with expanses of glass storefront on the ground-level retail spaces. The scissoring facades are clad in a rainscreen made out of deeply stained wooden dowels—a repetitive, vertically oriented hatch that softens the building’s sharper angles. The third floor is set back and rectilinear in comparison to those above, occupying the variable spaces underneath the overhanging floors.

The interruption in the Gough Street facade leads to an interior courtyard that contains private and shared outdoor spaces and circulation cores. The dowels make an appearance here as well as guardrails for the stairwells. The designers chose to sink the building’s parking garage five feet below grade, allowing for the courtyard to be slightly elevated above the street but not so high that it is inaccessible. The courtyard is visually connected to the commercial spaces via a large window and is populated by water-wise plants—Marta Fry Landscape Associates served as the landscape architect for the project.

Studios and one- and two-bedroom units are organized around the courtyard. Instead of wrapping the courtyard in overhanging single-loaded corridors, which would force living room windows to face onto the walkway as is typical, the architect repositioned the circulation to allow for the units along the north end of the building to be accessed via a pair of bridges that lead to shared-entry landings. Anne Fougeron, principal of Fougeron Architecture, said, “We wanted to put the open space in the middle of the site instead of along one side.”

Units along the southern wing of the building are organized so that one enters into the kitchen from the corridor, with living room spaces located along the southern facade overlooking the street. As a result, almost all of the apartments feature two exterior exposures. Fougeron added that the “facade echoes bay windows in a new way by interlacing their geometries in and out at different cadences” so as to “paginate the building so that it doesn’t read as a five-story building.”

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O+A crafts an unexpectedly modern workplace for a finance company

“Finance” usually conjures images of staid blue suits, brass plaques, and hallways lined with nondescript carpet. But when wealth-management firm Cambridge Associates moved from Menlo Park, California, to San Francisco, Amy Callahan, the firm’s managing director of operations, sought out San Francisco–based design studio O+A to “push the limits of a traditional workplace.”

O+A design studio director Mindi Weichman spearheaded the project, helping Cambridge Associates select a stripped-bare circular space with wide-sweeping views of San Francisco. “The footprint was definitely challenging,” she said. “At first, they thought they wanted private offices for all the principals and senior associates, with everyone else in an open space. But the initial planning for this showed that the perimeter would become very inefficient. We suggested workstations with large barriers so that there would be secluded zones and privacy, but no wasted space.”

From there, open desks custom designed by Knoll were provided for the rest of the employees, and other spaces were created for varying levels of privacy—from the self-explanatory conference and quiet rooms, to the library (communal, but not social) and then the kitchen area, which serves as a place to hang out and have informal gatherings.

This design strategy required toeing the line between traditional and modern office typologies. For example, keeping the concrete floors “took a bit of convincing,” Weichman said, but it created a harmonious interplay with more classic components. “[Cambridge Associates] wanted to tell a story of permanence and timelessness—and just as steel and glass serve as symbols for those values in architecture, they also convey cost and quality in the professional world.” Walnut was used extensively throughout, lending old-school warmth to the space, and a limestone wall in the reception area is polished, but not traditional.

While these client-facing areas remain conservative, with a neutral color palette of burgundy, navy, and olive, components such as a sculptural horsehair fixture by Apparatus and tessellated walnut walls in the conference rooms keep things interesting. Local art consultant Laura Grigsby contributed architectural, abstract paintings, and photographs for additional texture and color.

Employee-only areas are more playful. In the kitchen, the ceiling is peeled back to display the building’s infrastructure—just a dash of industrial aesthetic. “They wanted to show that they have an edgy side, but in a more refined way,” said Weichman. “The design is relative to whatever is happening to the space—the kitchen is a casual, louder, and more entertaining space versus the conference room, where things are clean and more buttoned up.” In the hallway, a string of weighted pendulum lights by Roll & Hill also add levity. “They can be moved, but I think the employees are scared to touch them,” laughed Weichman.

Ultimately, O+A presents a fresh approach to the now-ubiquitous open-office model replete with “standard start-up amenities.” Though there is a distinct lack of Ping-Pong tables and kegerators, the main pillars of the modern workplace—flexible seating, natural light, opportunities for socialization and relaxation—are thoughtfully well executed.

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You can help choose the graphics for California’s new Caltrain fleet

Against the odds of the current political moment, California is moving ahead with plans to electrify its Caltrain commuter train system in the northern part of the state. The organization in charge of the upgrades needs help choosing graphics for the new fleet of electric trains. Caltrain, a regional commuter rail serving San Francisco and its environs, has seen daily ridership double to 65,000 since 2005, according to a project website. The transit authority is aiming to transition from its current fleet of diesel-fueled locomotives to next-generation Electric Multiple Unit (EMU) trains that not only run on electric power, but are propelled along their length, instead of pushed or pulled like traditional trains. The all-car propulsion technology has been shown to shorten overall trip times, a byproduct of the smoother acceleration and stopping capabilities possible when each car is independently-propelled. The electrification of the Caltrain system will also help lay the groundwork for California’s beleaguered and over-budget high-speed rail line (HSR). The multi-phase HSR network is still on-track for the 2025 debut of the Silicon Valley to the Central Valley line and will also run on electricity. Converting the Caltrain system to electrical power now is a basic requirement for the high-speed rail line’s later operation. Like the HSR itself, the effort to electrify the Caltrain system, however, will not be cheap: Cost estimates for the upgrades are currently estimated to bet roughly $1.3 billion, a large chunk of which will need to come from the now-recalcitrant federal government. President Trump’s budget proposal left funding for the improvements unmet, along with several other major mass transit infrastructure projects across the country like Los Angeles’s Purple Line and New York City’s 2nd Avenue Subway extensions. A recently-released congressional draft budget proposal, however, allocated some $100 million toward the electrification project (and partial funding for the other projects, as well). Either way, Caltrain is moving ahead with purchasing 96 new train cars that would be configured into 16 six-car trainsets. The authority also has the option to purchase an additional 96 cars to be configured variously at a later date, according to a bulletin issued by Caltrain. The proposed graphics schemes envision four potential options for the fleet, all of which employ Caltrain’s signature red, white, and dark gray color schemes. The schemes, which feature a variety of striping and color blocking patterns, can be voted on at the Caltrain website. The train operator will spend the next year and a half collecting design feedback and—funding permitting—expects to debut the new trains in between 2019 and 2021.
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New 100-percent-affordable apartment complex takes root on remediated land in San Francisco

The Pacific Pointe development, designed by David Baker Architects (DBA) with Interstice Architects as associate and landscape architects, is the first 100-percent-affordable housing development in the new Hunters View area of San Francisco. The development is among the first completed projects in the new 420-acre neighborhood, a former naval shipyard that was—until recently—one of the most polluted sites in the country. After 20 years of remediation work, the enclave at the southern tip of San Francisco is now slated to receive upward of 10,000 new housing units as well as a slew of recreational and commercial programs.

The 60-unit apartment complex—developed by AMCAL Multi-Housing and Young Community Developers—is located near the center of the new environ, at the corner of Friedell Street and La Salle Avenue. The complex is organized as two interlocking L-shaped wings bridged by a two-level courtyard. The building features units ranging from one- to three-bedrooms supplemented by ground-level assembly and amenity spaces.

The five-story complex is punctuated along Friedell Street by a perforated Cor-ten steel panel–clad circulation tower that connects to a monumental stairway running through the principal courtyard. That stairway jogs across the elevated portion of the courtyard and eventually empties out onto a generous seating area with custom benches and native plantings. That elevated portion conceals play areas, building programming, and parking below, while stretching deep into the site where it is overlooked from multiple vantages by single-loaded corridors leading to unit entrances. The courtyards are articulated by generous planters framed by Cor-ten steel panels that are interrupted by jagged, stepped benches and wood platforms. Andrew Dunbar, principal at Interstice Architects said, “A fresh-air entry court is located at the lower level; above the parking, we were able to create a park-like courtyard that creates an intimate interconnecting ‘front yard’ for all the inhabitants.” The seating areas contain an unusual element: Raw 10-foot-long logs are embedded directly into the seating and stage areas. “We liked the surrealist effect of the logs as floating elements in the sea of wooden water—they speak to driftwood and offer imaginative play opportunities that recall the logging industry that once used the bay,” Dunbar explained.

The remainder of the complex is organized as a series of simple apartment blocks with several alternating sections of massing projecting beyond the main bulk of the complex. These overhanging areas create coverings for doorway stoops in certain areas and provide simple shade over windows in others. Along the stoops, the scale of the building breaks down to include more raised Cor-ten steel panel planters, modestly planted green areas, and broad stair landings designed for children to play on.

In most areas, the units are studded with flush-mounted floor-to-ceiling casement windows articulated to look double-hung. Window assemblies containing large picture windows are wrapped by planar shading devices that demarcate certain aspects of the program—namely the living areas. As is customary in much of DBA’s recent work, these shared ground-floor areas are detailed with smooth, cast-in-place concrete. The articulated portions of the building containing housing programs are variously clad in smooth, painted stucco, or horizontal siding.

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San Francisco modernizes its affordable housing lottery process

While we may live in Dickensian times, San Francisco has taken a small but important step toward humanizing the process by which qualifying individuals and families can apply to be considered for the city’s affordable housing lottery. Previously, San Francisco’s Office of Housing required would-be affordable housing dwellers to fill out hefty applications and apply in person at each specific housing development, only to watch on as numbered strips of paper were randomly picked out from a big box. The order in which numbers were selected would dictate the line of potential housing recipients. The process was cumbersome to say the least. The San Francisco Examiner reports that at a recent lottery for 60 available units in the Dalt Hotel in the city’s Tenderloin district drew 615 numbers out of several thousand applications submitted.   The carnivalesque and inhumane spectacle—San Francisco’s median rent recently fell slightly, but remains sky-high at a stunning $3,370 per month—is being replaced by the new Database of Affordable Housing Listings, Information, and Applications (DAHLIA) system. The new method was developed with help from Google and Salesforce and consists of an online portal that allows would-be residents to apply not only to multiple housing listings but also allows applicants to find out whether they have been selected via phone or computer. Barry Roeder, an official with the San Francisco Mayor’s Office of Housing, told the Examiner, “the big bin has gone away. No more carnival tickets and things like that. You can, in ten minutes, apply from your smartphone to a listing that you want. It pops up and tells you what your lottery number is and sends you an email with it. Within minutes of the completion of a public lottery, enter that number in DAHLIA again and it shows you exactly what your rank was in the lottery.” The new system is currently operational for all below-market rate listings generated by private developers as part of the city’s inclusionary zoning laws. Applications for affordable units developed by non-profit housing developers should become available within the next month.
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Buckminster Fuller Institute moving HQ to San Francisco

Late last week, the Buckminster Fuller Institute (BFI)—an organization dedicated to continuing the ambitious, global work of architect Buckminster Fuller—announced it would be relocating to the West Coast. "After twelve exciting and successful years in New York, we’re moving BFI’s headquarters back to California, which is where we got our start," the BFI said in an email. Just today, the BFI provided The Architect's Newspaper with additional details. The organization said there would be no disruption to the 2017 Buckminster Fuller Challenge, which is accepting entrants through March 31st, 2017. This year the BFI is seeking "innovators who are addressing the many crises facing humanity and the fundamental systems that support life on Earth...." (For more on the 2017 Call for proposals, click here.) Each year several finalists are selected, and one project wins $100,000 in support of its ongoing development and implementation. The 2017 Buckminster Fuller Challenge ceremony will also still take place in New York. Later this Spring the BFI will announce more details on its San Francisco office; the organization will retain some employees in New York City, but it will no longer have an office there. Those living in the Bay Area and interested in helping the BFI can contact the group regarding volunteer and internship openings.
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AIASF’s next Housing Forum envisions San Francisco in 2100

The American Institute of Architects San Francisco (AIASF) chapter will hold a housing forum on March 24th titled Envisioning San Francisco in 2100 that will focus on housing innovation for the San Francisco Bay Area. The forum will be moderated by architectural historian and Columbia University GSAPP Professor of Architecture Gwendolyn Wright and will work as a follow-up to a smaller convocation Wright presided over last fall. The forum will feature a keynote speech by Bay Area architect David Baker. Baker’s firm, David Baker Architects, works extensively across the Bay Area to promote and build innovative housing projects aimed at a variety of populations. Baker’s speech will be followed by a panel discussion and break-out sessions focused on issues relating to the use of public space, housing typologies, and housing finance and design with a special emphasis on what San Francisco’s housing stock might look like toward the beginning of the next century. Panelists for the debate portion of the event will include:
Adrianne Steichen, AIA, principal, PYATOK Alexa Arena, development manager, Lend Lease Allison Arieff, editorial director, SPUR + contributing writer, The New York Times Cynthia Parker, CEO, Bridge Housing Johanna Hoffman, landscape architect, Urban Fabrick Jonelle Simunich, foresight specialist, Arup Foresight + Research + Innovation Jeff Till, design principal, Studio Till Kearstin Dischinger, policy planner, citywide, San Francisco Planning Dept. Rachel Flynn, AIA, vice president of planning, FivePoint Lennar Housing, former planning director, City of Oakland Riki Nishimura, AIA, director of urban strategies, Gensler Sonja Trauss, principal, SFBARF
For more information on the event, see the AIASF website.
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Humanitarian texts inspired this colorful carpet installation in San Francisco

Basel, Switzerland–based Manuel Herz Architects has designed a 1,550-square-foot carpet installation for this year’s Swissnex San Francisco conference that uses humanitarian texts as stylistic and educational motifs. The project, named Rights on Carpet by the Swiss architects, combines the complete texts from human rights-related declarations with brightly-colored, geometric patterns and symbols. The carpet specifically highlights the 1864, 1906, 1929, and 1949 Geneva Conventions, the 1948 Declaration of Human Rights, the 1951 Convention Relating to the Status of Refugees and the 1966 Convent on Economic, Social, and Cultural Rights. The carpet—meant to be occupied shoeless—features texts within collections of rectangular frames that are organized in a series of concentric circles. This scheme is meant to gesture toward Muslim prayer rituals. This aspect of the carpet’s design, according to a press release announcing the installation, is meant to highlight “the activity of sitting in groups and debating and learning about a common topic ... exactly what takes place in mosques.” The text of the latter three documents mentioned above is displayed in the circular regions while the Geneva Conventions texts make up the interstitial spaces along the carpet. In an email to The Architect’s Newspaper, Herz said:
At a time when these rights and values have been questioned, and even been grossly undermined, when politicians are openly considering withdrawing from declarations of human rights, and when an appeal to these treaties seen as dated, derided as an expression of political correctness, or even mocked as a symptom of weakness, it has become more important than ever to remind ourselves of the actual wording of these treaties, and to bring their source texts back into our general consciousness. The carpet thus starts to trigger and feed discussions and debates around the topic of humanitarianism. It becomes an architectural device for curating the exchange between people.
The carpet will be on display at Swissnex San Francisco through May of 2017.
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Renzo Piano is designing a 36-story hotel in San Francisco’s Transbay neighborhood

New York City–based Renzo Piano Building Workshop and developer Pacific Eagle have revealed renderings for 555 Howard, a new, mixed-use hotel project slated for San Francisco's Transbay neighborhood. The project, if completed as planned, would become the fourth tallest structure in the city. According to documentation submitted to the city’s Planning Department, the project is slated to contain 69 dwelling units and 255 hotel rooms. Of the 69 dwelling units, 15 percent would be set aside at affordable rates. The rectangular tower, clad in transparent glass and rising to an overall height of 385 feet, would be built on the site of a collection of low-slung masonry buildings dating to the early 1900s. Those structures were analyzed by the Transit Center District Historic Resource Survey in 2012 and were not found to be “Contributory or Significant Buildings” for the neighborhood. Renderings released for the project showcase a glassy, boxy tower that steps back slightly roughly halfway up its height. According to the report, the residential portion of the building would be located between the 20th and 36th levels, with the hotel program sitting below. The 21st floor, where the building steps back, will include an outdoor terrace meant for use by building residents. The structure also features a triple-height ground floor lobby area with what looks like retail uses. The lobby is lifted on slender, pencil-tipped columns similar to those the architect used in the firm’s Modern Wing addition to the Art Institute of Chicago building. The lobby also features a pair of intervening mezzanine levels. The project proposes creating an “under ramp” park spanning one full side of the structure, underneath an adjacent elevated highway onramp. The building’s massing is split at roughly the centerline along that expanse, creating a wide reveal in the facade that, according to the planning documents, is meant to minimize the massing of the structure.
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Residents of tilting Millennium Tower to sue developers

Millennium Partners, the developer of Handel Architects—designed Millennium Tower in San Francisco, is being taken to court over the building's alarming sinking issue. The tower's homeowners association (HOA) let residents know last Thursday that it was filing a case against both Millennium Partners and Transbay Joint Powers Authority—the firm behind the substantial transit development adjacent to the tower. In the months prior to this, the HOA had staved off any legal action, advising tenants to do the same, as they privately discussed workarounds with the developer. (Some residents still filed lawsuits of their own.) During this process, the finger of blame was pointed toward the $2 billion, Pelli Clarke Pelli–designed transit scheme nearby that reportedly destabilized the tower's foundations. The 20 tenants that took matters into their own hands, though, made a different case. They argued that Millennium Partners was well aware that the structure had sunk significantly more—and at a faster rate—than expected, and failed to let prospective buyers know. A study in Fall of last year found that the tower and sunk 16 inches since it’s opening in 2008. By contrast, initial predictions for the building suggested that it would only sink six inches over its lifetime. To make matters worse, Millennium Tower is not settling evenly either, something which has result in a two-inch tilt. According to coverage from NBC Bay Area, the HOA has said: "The lawsuit would be intended to ... hold the defendants responsible for the damage to the building and... require the defendants to fund a comprehensive repair and restoration of the building, among other relief." A meeting scheduled for March 6 will apparently be held to "to discuss problems that may lead to the filing of a civil action, nonlitigation options, and other considerations." Whether the residents, unlike their tower, settle, remains to be seen.
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America’s first transgender historic district planned for San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood

A recently struck agreement between Group I—the developer for a Handel Architects-designed mixed-use housing and hotel project in San Francisco’s Tenderloin neighborhood called 950 Market Street—and TLGB activists will soon yield the country’s first transgender cultural historic district. The new Compton’s Cafeteria Transgender, Lesbian, Gay, and Bisexual (TLGB) District is being crafted as a result of neighborhood opposition to the project, originally designed by Bjarke Ingels Group, that aims to bring apartments and a hotel to the heart of the city’s historic TLGB enclave. A deal struck between activists, the developer, and San Francisco Supervisor Jane Kim would utilize $300,000 paid by the developer to establish the cultural district the area in order to preserve the architectural and social legacy of the neighborhood’s many gay bars, several of which are being demolished in conjunction with the new project. The fund is to be administered by the San Francisco Mayor's Office of Economic and Workforce Development and will support local business and nonprofit organizations that serve transgender people in the district. The district is named for Gene Compton’s Cafeteria, the site of a two-day riot in 1966, an event that predates the Stonewall Riots in New York City by two years and is considered as the first major transgender protest in the United States. President Barack Obama elevated the Stonewall Inn—a gay bar in New York City’s Greenwich Village neighborhood—as a National Monument in 2016, the first such monument for the TLGB community in the country. The district encompasses a collection of roughly ten blocks in the Tenderloin neighborhood along Viki Mar Lane, 6th Street, and Market Street and surrounds an area formerly known as the “meat rack,” a stretch of town friendly to lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender and queer populations in the city from the 1950s through the early 1970s that is also home to many historic gay bars. Of these, the Old Crow, Rainbow Tavern, and Silver Rail bars will be torn down to accommodate the development. A two-story structure known as the Dean Building is also being town down. The roots of the district as a cultural site for TLGB populations go back to the Gold Rush era. In a press release touting the first-of-its-kind cultural district, Kim explained the importance the cultural site during a time of newly-restrictive social mores, as an ascendant conservative ideology permeates national political and social discourse, saying, “By creating the Compton’s TLGB District we are honoring this vibrant community built by transgender people, and are sending a message to the world that trans people are welcome here.” Handel Architects’ 12-story complex, with an eye toward the particularities of a neighborhood that is historically home to a collection of specialized communities, including low-income, homeless and under-housed populations, will aim to bring 242 new mixed-income units to the neighborhood. The developers behind the project also aim to work with the Mayor’s Office of Housing and Community Development (MOHCD), the Tenderloin Neighborhood Development Corporation (TNDC), and Tenderloin Housing Clinic (THC) to develop between 60- and 70-units of off-site, deed-restricted affordable housing. The affordable complex, to be located at 180 Jones Street, will make use of a $14.8 million in fees and donations by the developer to come to fruition. When built, it will be operated by MOHCD. The project—articulated as a snaking apartment block decorated with a hexagonally-shaped structural grid populated by large expanses of floor-to-ceiling glass walls—is expected to take about two years to build and will contain, among other programmatic components, a neighborhood non-profit threater. The forthcoming Magic Theater, designed to occupy a 2,000-square-foot retail space at the corner of Turk and Taylor streets, will also contain a locally-owned cafe.