Posts tagged with "San Francisco":

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On View> Architecture & Design Films showcased in San Francisco Festival

All month the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts (YBCA) will present its Architecture & Design Films Showcase 2015 in downtown San Francisco, hailed as the West Coast’s largest showcase of architecture and design films. The New Rijksmuseum, a 2013 film directed by Oeke Hoogendijk opened the festival. With clarity and precision the documentary followed the ten year ordeal that was the renovation of the Amsterdam museum and the challenging battle and drama surrounding its reopening. Joel Shepard, YBCA’s film curator, said “this is the second year we’ve presented this very engaging series and it was such a hit last year that we decided to do it again. This time we have even more outstanding films, which were all selected for their diversity as well as because they represent a wide variety of new architecture, design, and related subjects.” Some titles that stand out are Troublemakers: The Story of Land Art, focused on what it’s title straightforwardly lays out, land art, and includes rare footage and interviews of storied artists Robert Smithson (Sprial Jetty), Walter De Maria (The Lightning Field), and Michael Heizer (Double Negative) on October 29 and November 1. Maker, with the director Mu-Ming Tsai in person to present a film that looks into the current maker movement in America—a new wave of do-it-yourself and do-it-together fueled by passion and powered by new technologies, a topic particularly ripe for the Bay Area crowd. Two other titles to take note of are Christiania: 40 Years of Occupation and Making Space, a film that looks at five women changing the face of architecture. The showcase runs through November 8 and takes place at the YBCA Screening Room in San Francisco. A list of the films can be found at on the museum's website. Most show times are Thursday evenings, and Saturday and Sunday afternoons.
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Boston considers supply-and-demand logic to price parking in prime areas

Boston-area drivers spend too much time stuck in traffic. To combat congestion in the city center, Boston city officials may follow San Francisco's move to improve traffic flow by charging more for parking at peak times. Donald Shoup, former professor of planning at UCLA, is famous for arguing that, at any given time, about one-third of drivers on city streets are looking for parking. His disciples at the San Francisco Municipal Transit Authority created SFpark, a congestion control model that puts Shoup's ideas into practice in the form of surge pricing for on-street parking (see the full report here). Shoupistas in Boston may follow suit. Inexpensive parking makes it easier for drivers to leave their cars parked for longer periods of time. Other drivers hunting for parking cause gridlock and delays. Following SFpark, Boston will introduce parking prices tied to peak traffic in select downtown locations. Mayor Walsh commented that, in addition to applying market logic to parking, the move may spur more drivers to opt instead for mass transit. Currently, $0.25 buys you 12 minutes of parking at most meters in Boston, regardless of the day or time. Officials haven't decided on how high the meters will go, but in San Francisco, peak parking costs up to $7.00 per hour. To prepare for a pilot program, Boston officials will study the proposal's impact on Fenway, Back Bay, and other downtown neighborhoods. The peak pricing initiative is part of an overall effort to modernize parking infrastructure and reduce gridlock downtown. Approximately 8,000 older meters are being replaced with new meters that accept credit cards and can be programmed to accommodate surge pricing. In turn, the city can create "parking zones" where certain blocks in high demand zones are priced higher than less desirable blocks. To fight gridlock, Mayor Walsh pointed to surveillance at intersections that will identify motorists who "block the box," as well as those who double park. When reprogramming traffic, it is often a challenge to balance the needs of motorists with the needs of everyone else. In addition to Boston, Cleveland, DC, and Denver are working on innovate ways to alleviate congestion to make healthier streets for all.
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Q+A> Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher: Behind the scenes at SFMOMA’s architecture and design department

Although the Snøhetta-designed SFMOMA expansion won’t open until mid-2016, there’s a lot going on behind the scenes. Earlier this month the museum promoted Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher to the Helen Hilton Raiser Curator of Architecture and Design and head of the Department of Architecture and Design. Dunlop Fletcher (who joined the museum as an assistant curator in 2007) co-curated the impressive Lebbeus Woods, Architect exhibition in 2013. AN spoke to her about the future of architecture and design in San Francisco and Silicon Valley. The Architect's Newspaper: What is your vision for your curatorial role and for the new space? Jennifer Dunlop Fletcher: That’s always the hardest thing to answer. First, we will have a new gallery dedicated to architecture and design on the sixth floor of the new museum, which I’m very excited about. In the previous building, we had three spaces cobbled together with different ceiling heights, so having a refreshed gallery is going to be great. Also, we will have another dedicated A&D space on the third floor. Second, we get to participate in more museum-wide programs. I see a lot of opportunity for us to expand outside of our gallery and take advantage of the way designers work and be flexible and responsive to different spaces. In terms of responsiveness, how might the new design impact how you approach exhibitions? So, the way that Snøhetta responds to the physical conditions of the site and social conditions of the site, I think we also recognize that the engineering coming out of Silicon Valley has been a tremendous attracter for many designers to come to San Francisco. Internally, we’ve been focusing on research funded by an Andrew W. Mellon Foundation grant that looks at how designer practice has changed so much in the last 30 years due to new software tools. And of course, that relates so much to what is happening just outside our door. If we can really study those practices and the migration from pen and pencil to software we will have a whole new collecting approach internationally. This is something that has changed and affected every single design discipline: graphic design, product design, and architecture. So, if we take the three-year period (which we’ve outlined in the grant) to really look at some key designers and understand their practice behind the scenes, it will affect how we move forward in collecting and displaying this integrated work. I think it’s going to be a very big difference. In what way? The twenty-first century has moved away from object-based presentation and museums need to recognize that. Everyone still loves to come into the museum and see an original object, but the way that designers communicate with each other and clients has changed. We can’t impose a kind of more traditional display on that relationship. So, can we expect an expanded idea of representation? Are we talking about more screens? Well, I’ve been warned not to really discuss exactly what’s happening in the opening, but I think screens, but not screens in a consumption sense, not in a passive, let’s just watch something unfold sense, but more in a dynamic sense. And maybe…oh, I wish I could talk about this one thing! How can I speak about it abstractly? New ways to experience design that is traditionally experienced kind of phenomenologically, all the senses. So there might be a way for screens or devices to enable a different kind of interaction. We seem to be talking a little bit more about design and industrial design. What about sort of the architecture part of the equation? I’m not trying to exclude the architecture at all. The architects I see here are very, very interested in poking holes in existing software and hacking software and responsive buildings and robotic mechanized buildings. It’s permeated all the design disciplines here.
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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.
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Growing Tall and Going Big: San Francisco studied density bonuses to generate affordable housing

This Fall, San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors will consider a proposal made by the city's Planning Department concerning the possibility of "relaxing" height and density limits for many of San Francisco's western neighborhoods. If enacted, the program expects to transform some of San Francisco's uninhabited residences and unused space into affordable housing units for newcomers. The city is exploring a density bonus program, which allows developers to gain building height among other incentives. The proposal, according to the San Francisco Business Times, would allow developers to build two-stories taller than normally allowed. Most parts of San Francisco restrict heights to four or six stories. Other provisions would allow parking minimum waivers and reduced setback and side yard requirements. That's all in exchange for building affordable housing. San Francisco hopes the plan could spur 7,000 new units of housing, 3,000 of those affordable. The proposal has been met with strong opposition from some neighborhood groups, the Business Times reported. Some San Francisco residents – in particular the Sunset and Richmond districts – are reluctant to expose themselves to neighborhood change. Western neighborhoods claim rezoning would render the community vulnerable to conflict, citing dense construction, parking concerns, and impacts on the transportation system. “Building density just for the sake of density isn’t the answer," Planning Department Chief John Rahaim said in a statement earlier this year. "We need to be concerned about quality of life and living space.” He acknowledged, however, that the city is in need of new affordable housing.
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Kreysler & Associates Erects an FRP First in San Francisco

Wave-like composite facade animates SFMOMA expansion.

While visually interesting, the primary facade of the SFMOMA expansion (Snøhetta with associate architect EHDD) was not originally designed to pioneer a new material system. All that changed when William Kreysler visited the architect's New York office. "I went there to meet them about the interior," recalled Kreysler, whose firm—composite specialists Kreysler & Associates—had been called in to advise on the project's vaulted ceilings. "I asked about the exterior, how that was going to get done. They didn't know." Over the coming months, Kreysler & Associates transitioned from interior consultant to envelope fabricator as the facade itself was transformed from a ductal concrete fantasy to a fiber-reinforced polymer (FRP) reality. Along the way, thanks to a patent-pending process developed by Kreysler & Associates, the design and fabrication team positioned itself on the cutting edge of high performance building enclosures with the first major use of FRP cladding on a multi-story facade in North America. When a client's representative called to ask if his firm—at that point poised to collaborate with an outside glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) contractor on mold-making—would consider taking on fabrication themselves, Kreysler's reaction was mixed. "I said, 'Yes, I don't see anything particularly complicated about it in terms of fabrication,'" he recalled. "The problem was the fire codes. No one in the [FRP] business had attempted to pass the fire code requirements." Kreysler & Associates had been keeping abreast of the regulatory situation, and had been involved in inserting a new section for FRP into the International Building Code[s]. But the fire code test itself, NFPA 285, is expensive. After further conversation, the client committed to partially fund the test. "We got to the point where I said, 'Okay, I'm willing to put some money at risk here,'" said Kreysler. "We went ahead and did it." Kreysler & Associates' system, which they call Fireshield 285, passed the test, likely becoming the first FRP cladding panel to do so. Having thus paved the way for a more widespread application of the lightweight material to building exteriors, the fabricator's next step was to bid to three facade companies. Of the firms to which they introduced their design, Enclos was the most engaged. By the end of the first meeting, Kreysler & Associates and Enclos had brainstormed ideas to eliminate the secondary structural frame intended to go in front of the weatherproof wall specified in the original design.
  • Facade Manufacturer Kreysler & Associates
  • Architects Snøhetta, EHDD (associate architect)
  • Facade Installer Enclos
  • Facade Consultants Arup
  • Location San Francisco, CA
  • Date of Completion expected 2016
  • System FRP veneer over unitized facade panel rain screen
  • Products custom Fireshield 285 FRP panels, unitized facade panels with waterproof membrane and fireproofing, custom mechanical attachment system
Soon the group introduced an additional innovation. Enclos is known for its expertise in unitized panel systems rather than conventional walls, explained Kreysler. "We said, 'Maybe we could make our material so lightweight, we could just fasten our material onto the front of the unitized wall panel.'" Kreysler is quick to give credit to Enclos "for seeing the potential and sharing their expertise in building facades so we could work collaboratively to take full advantage of both systems' strengths."  With a combined composite-unitized wall panel assembly, one team of contractors could erect the entire rain screen in a single shot. "It would save one million pounds of structural steel, plus the time of going around the building three times," said Kreysler. Not surprisingly, "the contractor liked it, and the owner liked it," he recalled. Only one obstacle remained. "Unitized wall systems are designed to go in straight lines, or if curved, are curved in a radius," said Kreysler. "But if you look at the facade of SFMOMA, it's all over the place." The Kreysler & Associates-Enclos team quickly developed a solution: Kreysler & Associates would fabricate their panels with edges of different depths to bridge the gap between the facade's surface and the flat unitized panel wall. "We were able to create a curved front even though the the wall behind was a nice straight line," explained Kreysler. "From the front of the building you don't see any of the edges—you see this flowing curved line. That was a big breakthrough, and as a result, Enclos really got behind our system." The client was suitably impressed, and Kreysler & Associates won the contract against bids involving GFRC systems. "Even if our price turned out to be higher, the benefits of only going around the building one time, and the benefits of a system considered to be a higher-quality weatherproof wall" won out, said Kreysler. Though the expansion is not expected to open until 2016, Kreysler & Associates' work on the project is finished. The installation went "beautifully," said Kreysler. The 710 unique FRP panels were mechanically fastened and bonded to the unitized wall using a custom aluminum extrusion. The Enclos representatives had been nervous, he recalled. However, "the project manager told me that in the years he's being doing this, it was the most complicated project he's ever done, but in the end this was the most straightforward part of the project." As for Kreysler himself, he has no regrets—quite the opposite. "It was tricky, but it was fun and interesting," he said. "And it was nice to know that we were breaking new ground."
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San Francisco City Hall light show proposal sparks anti-advertising controversy

In 1915, when San Francisco’s City Hall, designed by Bakewell & Brown, opened to the public after the Great Earthquake destroyed an earlier edifice, architect Arthur Brown, Jr. couldn’t have predicted that a digital light show would grace the Beaux-Arts building a century later. But, San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee recently proposed just that—his plan would allow for corporations and city events to use the east façade for projected light and multimedia displays. https://youtu.be/u8fY585emEM The San Francisco Examiner reported that the proposal immediately opened up a debate about whether civic structures should be used for commercial purpose and calls attention to the blurry boundaries of public-private partnerships, especially between the city and tech companies. In a text message to the paper, supervisor John Avalos expressed his concern that the display is an advertising opportunity for local companies. The mayor’s office contends it is an expression of creativity to enhance special events held on Civic Center Plaza. “Like City Hall brought to you by Facebook, Salesforce, Big Brother of Public Private Partnerships Ron Conway?” he wrote, referencing one of Mayor Lee’s most prominent backers. “What’s next, selling naming rights for City Hall and all the other Civic Center buildings?” he continued. John Updike, San Francisco’s director of Real Estate, countered that there would be tight controls on the displays. A July 27 letter to the Board of Supervisors spelled out the limitations:
The content of displays shall be City-approved government speech. This ordinance does not open the east facade of City Hall as a public forum, or non-public forum, for nongovernmental speech, nor shall it be open to general advertising signs.
The rooftop installation of two projectors on Asian Arts Museum and the Main Public Library comes with $1.5 million price tag. The cost would be covered by a private fund related to San Francisco’s Centennial Celebration. All aspects of the installation on the historic buildings require review by the Historic Preservation Commission.
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San Francisco’s “Murmur Wall” installation tells your secrets in public

We’ve all heard a lot about “smart cities” and “responsive architecture,” by what about architecture that tells secrets? Murmur Wall, designed by Jason Kelly Johnson and Nataly Gattegno of the experimental design practice Future Cities Lab, does just that. The pair describes their site-specific installation at the main entrance to Yerba Buena Center for the Arts in San Francisco in as “artificially intelligent architecture.” “We are interested in exploring how data can become visceral, tangible, and poetic,” Johnson explained. “We’re experimenting with its potential to create meaning and a sense of place within the contemporary city.” Murmur Wall harvests local online activities—via search engines and social media—and broadcasts select phrases back into public space. Visitors to the wall can also contribute anonymous secrets, rumors, and gossip to the wall at the website murmurwall.net. Unlike many interactive artworks that rely on screens to share information, the sculptural installation uses a steel tube armature and illuminated fiber optic rods. LED lights embedded in the acrylic tubes illuminate the stream of whispers along the length of the Murmur Wall. When the real-time data reaches the 3D printed “pods” embedded with LED display, the small, embedded screens display a brief text before the data continues on as a light stream. This integration of digital and architectural strategies comes from Future Cities Lab research and teaching practices. Both designers are faculty at the California College of the Arts where Gattegno is Chair of the CCA Graduate Architecture program and Johnson coordinates the CCA Digital Craft Lab. Their work embraces the booming tech culture all around them in the Bay Area and then grapples with potential architectural applications, finding solutions that go beyond smart city catchphrases. “There is a lot of talk these days about how the Internet of Things will make the city more efficient, informed, and productive,” said Johnson. “We are more interested in its potential to connect people, to help them share ideas and experiences, and create communities in the physical world.” Revealing secrets is the first step. The installation is open and accessible to the public 24/7 at the Mission Street entrance the museum. A second Future Cities Lab piece, Lightswarm from 2014, is on view on the south facade of YBCA’s Grand Lobby.
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Berkeley designers propose building this pavilion entirely out of books, and you can help kickstart the project

Leaders of the Bay Area Book Festival (taking place June 5–7 in Berkeley) are teaming up with arts group Flux Foundation to make Lacuna, a wood-framed, yurt-like structure containing over 50,000 books, all donated by the Internet Archive. The "participatory" installation, designed with built in benches and alcoves, will have walls literally made out of stacks of books. Ceilings will be made of book pages attached to guy wires. lt will sit in Berkeley's Martin Luther King, Jr. Civic Center Park, creating what organizers call "a reflective space that offers contrast to—and respite from—the busy energy of the festival." In a digital world, this reminder of books' physicality, and the opportunity to read them and reshape the space, should be a major draw—especially as many bookstores still struggle to stay open. The project is still seeking funding. You can contribute to its Kickstarter campaign here.
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San Francisco never looked as grand as in this nighttime time lapse video

This black-and-white time-lapse video by Toby Harriman shows San Francisco at its most dramatic. The skyline emerges quietly from its famous fog as the city and its bridges twinkle in the distance—including Leo Villareal's Bay Lights installation. As the music builds, Gotham City SF picks up pace, showing dramatic angles at high speeds completely appropriate for an action thriller. You'd have to watch to really understand. https://vimeo.com/119318850 According to filmmaker Toby Harriman:

This idea came from the aether; it emerged over time. Several years ago (2012) while exploring my passion for black and white photography I found myself wandering into a look I call ‘Gotham’...I have collected and edited this footage while juggling my freelance career and time working at Lytro (a new camera technology).

The film's score was created by UK-based James Everingham and serves to heighten the drama of the city. The Gotham City SF logo was designed by David Hultin.
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Long-empty Strand Theater to re-open in San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighborhood

In May, San Francisco will open its intensive renovation of the Strand Theater, one of so many additions to the city's quickly-changing Mid-Market area. Designed by SOM and Page & Turnbull, the new facility is located inside a 1917 building originally used for Vaudeville and then for second-run movies. The theater had been empty since 2003. The firms maintained the structure's facade and portions of its original auditorium, and created a new cafe, a revamped two-story lobby (with huge windows opening to the outside), and a 120 seat event space above the lobby. The 283-seat auditorium can be transformed into a cabaret-style venue with only 220 seats. The building's historic renovation (which included tearing out most of the interior to the studs and exposing long-covered masonry) and seismic upgrades, invisible to most visitors, were a giant task, especially since space was so tight and the building had been neglected for so long. Don't believe us? Look at the construction images below.
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San Francisco developer nixes BIG-designed Arts Center, plans smaller project

A mixed-use complex designed by New York- and Copenhagen-based Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) is going to be, well, not quite as big. The San Francisco Mid-Market neighborhood has been quickly revitalizing since 2011, but the largest development in the area, located at 950–974 Market Street, has just been downsized. Mid-Market really began taking off after city officials instituted a tax break—nicknamed “the Twitter tax break” when Twitter famously decided to stay in the city. The effort has been seen as a success: many young tech companies have made the area their home, development proposals are flooding in, and a report by the San Francisco Controller’s office last November showed gains for the city reaching $3.4 million in 2013. But not so much for 950–974 Market Street. The developer responsible for the project, Developer Group I, has told the city that the mixed use complex—with over 300 residences, 250 hotel rooms, and a connecting art space with a green roof for art groups—will now be a smaller hotel and residence. The original central art space, with performance spaces and offices for art groups, would have allowed developers to raise the overall building height from 120 to 200 feet. Disputes over funding have caused tensions: “The city expected the developer to cover all costs, while Group I wanted nonprofit arts groups to chip in 50 percent,” wrote Curbed SF. Still no word on what's next. Updated designs and a revised timeline have not yet been released.