Like many major tech companies in Silicon Valley, Apple provides free transportation for its employees living in the Bay Area. About 28 percent of Apple employees do not drive to work, instead taking employer-owned biodiesel shuttles, biking, or walking. In an effort to bring that percentage up to 34 percent (a figure that will help get their new Norman Foster–designed campus in Cupertino approved), the company is expanding its fleet of buses and building a dedicated transportation center. With an annual budget of $35 million—that's approximately $21,000 per employee—the Transportation Demand Management program, as it is formally called, provides an average of 1,600 employees a free ride to work each day. Shuttles owned and operated by companies such as Google and Apple have sparked recent protests, prompting the San Francisco Municipal Transportation Agency to approve a new plan: company shuttle buses will have to pay $1 for every stop made, every day. The proposal is set to go into effect this July and raise $1.5 million over the first year and a half. More info at the Los Angeles Times.
Posts tagged with "San Francisco":
Despite its collection of near-misses in California (LACMA, The Broad, Universal, etc.), OMA and Rem Koolhaas keep trying to land a headlining project in the Golden State. And it looks like they're about to design a high rise in San Francisco to accompany their (currently on hold) winning scheme for a mixed use project in Santa Monica. San Francisco’s Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure (the successor to the city’s Community Development Agency) has given the firm initial approval to design a 550-foot-tall residential tower on Folsom Street, between First and Fremont streets, in the city’s Transbay area. The project features OMA's tower on one end of the block with podium buildings and townhouses filling the remainder of the block. The tower, and the accompanying row of low rises designed by Fougeron Architects on Block 8, will be a mix of 4,400 condominiums and rental apartments, with at least 27 percent of them affordable. CMG will be the landscape architect, and the developer is Related California. OMA said that it could not yet release images of the design, although several press outlets have released a rendering (at top), including the San Francisco Chronicle. OMA becomes the second starchitect-firm in a matter of weeks to take on a skyscraper in the city, after Jeanne Gang recently signed on with Tishman Speyer to design a tower in the same neighborhood. Both towers will be located near Cesar Pelli's Transbay Tower, now underway. The 40-acre Transbay area has been witnessing major developments since the city and county of San Francisco adopted plans to redevelop the area in June 2005. Under the plan, the city divided the area into two sections. Zone One encompasses a ten-acre segment of vacant public land where a portion of the Embarcadero Freeway once stood and will include a mix of residential, retail, and public open space, as well as a one-acre park. Zone Two will include the new Transbay Transit Center and the 1,070-foot-tall tower by Pelli Clark Pelli Architects. The plan is set to expire in 2035. More planning details on Block 8 in a report by the Office of Community Investment and Infrastructure here. And more on the Transbay redevelopment project here.
Chicago architect Jeanne Gang (pictured) isn't just preparing to design new towers in Chicago and (perhaps) New York. According to her office, Gang has been hired by Tishman Speyer to design a high rise tower in San Francisco's Transbay district. The building's site (and, likewise a design) has not yet been revealed, but according to a piece in the San Francisco Chronicle, it's near the now-rising Transbay Center. According to the Chronicle, Tishman is also developing the Lumina and Infinity towers in the area by Arquitectonica, and a 26-story office tower by Gensler and Thomas Phifer. (Photo: Courtesy Studio Gang Architects)
Since the east span of the Bay Bridge opened in the fall of 2013, demolition crews have been busy deconstructing the old–taking down over 50,000 tons of steel. While most of the steel will be sent to China as scrap, one Bay Area entrepreneur, David Grieshaber, wants to save a portion to create a mixed-use building, housing a museum, a private apartment, and an Airbnb rental. The Airbnb fees would, hypothetically, keep the non-profit undertaking running. The frame of the project would incorporate the original steel beams (about 1.3 percent of the total bridge) and the floors would use the pavement (and even keep the lane markers). The design would also feature green systems such as rainwater collection, solar panels, and a green roof. The final location for the house has yet been determined. More info on the Bay Bridge House, here.
Ten Roads Whose Time Has Come: Congress for the New Urbanism Releases List of Freeways Ripe for Removal
The Congress for the New Urbanism has released their annual list of Freeways Without Futures. The organization selected the top 10 urban American (and one Canadian) highways most in need of removal. The final list was culled from nominations from more than 50 cities. Criteria for inclusion included age of the freeway, the potential that removal would have to positively effect the areas where the roadways are currently situated, and the amount of momentum to realize such removals. Additionally the CNU highlighted campaigns in Dallas, the Bronx, Pasadena, Buffalo, and Niagra Falls, that are taking significant steps towards removing freeways (some of which have been included in past lists) as illustrations of broader institutional and political shifts on urban infrastructural thinking. I-10/Claiborne Overpass - New Orleans The already aging Interstate 10 was heavily damaged in 2005 during Hurricane Katrina. The Unified New Orleans Plan (UNOP) suggested that the removal of the elevated portion of the highway would allow for the reclamation of 35 to 40 city blocks and 20 to 25 blocks of open space. With the help of public engagement Livable Claiborne Communities outlined a plan for a similar removal that would improve living conditions in the neighborhood in the immediate vicinity of the expressway. I-81 - Syracuse This road, including an elevated portion that runs through downtown Syracuse, was built in the 60's. Advocates for the transformation of the most urban portion of the freeway could be replaced by a boulevard that would connect neighborhoods, inject economic activity into the area, and be cheaper to maintain. Numerous local politicians have spoken in favor of such a plan and the Syracuse Metropolitan Transportation Council and the New York State Department of Transportation (NYSDOT) co-led the I-81 Challenge to examine traffic patterns and alternatives to the current state of the highway. Gardiner Expressway - Toronto Unpopular with local citizens, the overworked Expressway requires more than $10 million annually in repairs. Recently, the City of Toronto and WATERFRONToronto finished work on the Gardiner Expressway & Lake Shore Boulevard Reconfiguration Environmental Assessment & Urban Design Study which will dictate the future of the portion of the Gardiner overlooking Lake Ontario. Route 5/Skyway - Buffalo The Skyway Bridge and Route 5 mar public views of the Buffalo River, diminish land values, and create a web of confusing traffic patterns predicated on inefficient one-way streets. The Department of Transportation rates the Skyway bridge as "fracture critical" while the Federal Highway Administration classifies the bridge as "functionally obsolete." It is likely to cost more than $50 million to maintain over the next two decades. Inner Loop - Rochester The Loop was built for the city Rochester once was, rather than the shrunken metropolis that stands today. For this reason much of the beltway carries traffic that could easily be carried by a urban avenue. Furthermore it constricts the downtown area, inhibiting development and isolating adjacent neighborhoods. In 2012 the city was awarded a USDOT TIGER grant to replace the eastern portion of the Loop with a two lane boulevard flanked by street parking. I-70 - St. Louis I-70 separates the city from the waterfront of the Mississippi River and Saarinen's iconic arch. Calls for bridging this divide by converting the expressway into an urban boulevard have been long simmering. Park Over The Highway is a $380 million project for a park and pedestrian and bike path that leaps I-70 in connecting the city to the area abutting the river. I-280 - San Francisco Meant to be part of a larger web of freeways that was ultimately halted by mid-century protests, the removal of this highway stub would increase the land values of the area by $80 million according to a report by Fourth and King Street Railyards. Replacing the strip with a urban boulevard would open the area for further redevelopment and allow for greater fluidity between neighborhoods. The city's Center for Architecture + Design has hosted a design competition for such a project. I-375 - Detroit This 1.06 mile strip served to divide portions of the city and contributed to the isolation and subsequent decay of once thriving black neighborhoods. Detroit's drop in population has lead to a 13% decrease in usage since 2009. In December of 2013, Detroit's Downtown Development Authority moved forward with alternative plans for the highway, with particular focus on converting the road into a more pedestrian-friendly thoroughfare. Terminal Island Freeway - Long Beach As it stands the freeway currently serves a mere 14,000 vehicles a day, numbers that could drop further if plans to expand the Intermodal Container Transfer Facility come to fruition, a development that would redirect significant freight traffic in the area. Local nonprofit urban design studio City Fabrick have spear-headed a movement to convert the road into a greenbelt that would act as a buffer between residential districts and industrial port infrastructure. In 2013 the plan was awarded a Caltrans grant. Aetna Viaduct - Hartford This 3/4 mile stretch of elevated expressway was completed in 1965. In running directly through downtown Hartford the Viaduct destroyed historic architecture, public spaces, and severed inter-community links once easily traversed by foot. Initially set for costly re-surfacing that would increase its lifespan by 20 years, new plans are being considered for the heavily-trafficked road. Hartford officials and Capitol Region Council of Governments (CRCOG) are currently considering plans to re-align nearby rail tracks that would open 15-20 acres of nearby land for redevelopment.
A software developer gets a subtly intergalactic theme for its new San Francisco headquarters.For the Giant Pixel corporation’s new headquarters, Studio O+A evoked the feel of a sophisticated galaxy far, far away in a renovated San Francisco workspace. With the help of Chris French Metal, Nor-Cal Metal Fabricators, and Seaport Stainless, O+A designers Denise Cherry and Primo Orpilla designed an interior environment that invokes themes from the client’s favorite movie, Star Wars, without delivering a set design for the Spaceballs parody. One of the office’s most notable features is an entry canopy constructed from ¼-inch hot rolled steel plate with laser-cut perforations that sets the office theme with a binary translation of the trilogy’s opening crawling text. “The Star Wars theme placed subtly throughout the office was what the client wanted,” Orpilla, who is one of the firm’s co-founders, said. “With the screen, they also found a way to vet job applicants and collaborators.” Doubling as a puzzle for visitors to the office, the software development company’s founders built an application that converted the film’s opening text crawl into binary code that could be visually translated for fabrication. According to Cherry, the ones and zeros from Giant Pixel’s software were translated to a computer punch code series. In an AI file, letters represented by zeros are punched out, and letters translated to ones were left solid, which was then exported to a DXF that fed the cutting machine. Each panel measures three feet by eight feet, so the character text fits well across most sections, though the blocking bleeds words across lines in a few places. The canopy had to be framed for stability, so Chris French Metal fabricated a from cold rolled steel flat bar and mechanically attached the canopy panels, said Jamie Darnell, project manager and designer for Chris French Metal. For the vertical portion, flush socket cap screws affix the frame to the floor. For the canopy, threaded rod and custom hanger clips suspend five panels from the rafters. To expedite installation, a tooth-like detail locks the panels together and aligns the edges. Less than one year after completing the interiors, an update to the storefront called for a variation on the pixelated theme from the interior. Within the brick and stucco façade, three openings were filled with an oversized version of the binary code that reads as a direct interpretation of the Giant Pixel brand. Eight-and-a-half-inch apertures—filled with tempered single-pane glass and sealed with VHB tape and black silicone—are bookended by two custom pivot doors weighing 800 pounds each. “We push to get in early on projects with the hope of developing collaborative relationships with the designers,” explained Darnell. “It’s more fun that way and the process and end product are usually more interesting in a collaboration than in a traditional design-bid-build process."
The California College of the Arts (CCA) was founded in 1907 by Frederick Meyer, a German arts and crafts cabinetmaker and did not have an architecture program until the 1980s. However it has been making great strides in the past 10 years to become more of a presence on the international art and design stage. But like all schools it struggles with rising fees and costs to educate young people so it has come up with Blueprints, Blue Jeans & Bluegrass, a fundraiser that will take place in its fantastic San Francisco campus. The party will honor Art Gensler the founder of the San Francisco firm that bares his name. All net proceeds from the gala will go to scholarships for talented and deserving students at CCA. The event takes place on March 26 and features a complete dinner, fancy cocktails and Bluegrass music. I want to fly out to San Francisco just to attend the Blueprints.
Up in Northern California, Andrew Wolfram has bolted Perkins + Will’s San Francisco office to become a principal at TEF (Tom Eliot Fisch). Wolfram was project architect for the SF Ferry Building, and also worked on the renovation of 140 New Montgomery, Timothy Pflueger’s art deco skyscraper for Pacific Telephone. (Photo: Courtesy Andrew Wolfram)
After 12 years at the helm of AIA San Francisco, Margie O'Driscoll announced Monday that she is stepping down as its Executive Director. Under O'Driscoll the chapter initiated several significant programs, tapping into the city's passion for architecture, design, and social conscience. These include its home tours (the first of its kind in the Bay Area); the hugely popular Architecture and the City Festival; measures and collaborations to address issues like licensure, intern development, and pro bono work; and, with local radio station KALW, the successful show 99 percent invisible. The chapter also undertook a renovation of its offices inside the historic Hallidie Building. "The more we tried the more enthusiastic and even insatiable the public became about the programs we did," said O'Driscoll. (Photo: Courtesy Margie O'Driscoll)
Can better design save lives? That question is at the center of a proposal by Ogrydziak Prillinger Architects (OPA) to transform crosswalks along San Francisco’s Divisadero Street. The project, Sous Les Paves, originated in a GOOD design challenge by the Center for Architecture and Design. With help from AIA San Francisco, OPA partnered with local advocacy organization Walk San Francisco in a bid to improve pedestrian safety at street crossings. The proposal couldn’t be more timely. According to Walk San Francisco, at least three pedestrians have died in city crosswalks since New Year’s Eve alone. OPA began its design with a rudimentary pedestrian-safety tool: the bulb-out, which projects the sidewalk into the street. But while bulb-outs increase visibility, they also make pedestrians more vulnerable. OPA Principal Zoë Prillinger explained: “Our first thought was, when we looked at the curb extension, was that it should be modified to protect the pedestrian.” The designers elected to build protective ridges along the edge of each bulb-out. This led to a second thought. “If you’re building up the curb extension, what else can it do? If you’re creating a kind of public space, what can we do to augment that public space?” OPA hit upon the idea of treating the protective ridges as planters, creating a new kind of green space at pedestrian crossings. At an urban scale, these mini-parks would connect to median plantings and, eventually, city parks. The designers chose Divisadero Street for their project in part because its traffic lanes are separated by a median. “Median strips [create] a kind of link between intersections, a language of green space: median strips, curb extensions,” Prillinger said. “[You] start to see streets stitched together by these green moments.” As for the architectural language of the crosswalks themselves, OPA employed a variation on the black-and-white zebra crossing. The diagonal hatch extends into the sidewalk as well as the street. “The hatch implies a dual condition,” Prillinger explained. “It’s kind of a hybrid condition. We’re thinking of streets as a place where both cars and pedestrians belong.” OPA’s relatively simple design, comprising the hatch pattern, curb ridges, and median ridges, is a kit of parts designed for flexible use around the city. The firm “created a language that’s modular, that can fit different situations, to create a kind of new public space,” Prillinger said. That language, moreover, could be used to help define an area, like Divisadero Street, that doesn’t yet have a distinct aesthetic identity. “San Francisco is conservative, it’s very hard for planners even to think about doing anything that has a real presence,” Prillinger said. At the same time, “There are real opportunities [to do things] that are more consciousness-raising.” OPA worked with the city Planning Department late last year to outline some of the obstacles to implementing Sous Les Paves. Next, the designers will meet with the Municipal Transportation Authority (SFMTA), representatives of the Fire Department, and other stakeholders to explore opportunities to realize the design. “I really would like some element of this project to get off the ground,” Prillinger said. “It would be lovely for San Francisco to do something that’s not just progressive environmentally, but also combines progressive architectural language.”
If you’re looking for change in San Francisco, look no further than the city’s South of Market (SoMa) neighborhood. Central SoMa, a 24-square-block area between the central business district and Mission Bay, has been targeted for up-zoning and other public improvements as part of the Planning Department’s Central SoMa Plan (previously the Central Corridor Plan). The neighborhood is also the site of several major construction projects, including a $56 million renovation of the Moscone Center and the extension of Muni’s T Third Line. All of the above may be affected by another potentially more radical change: Central SoMa has been identified as San Francisco’s first eco-district, as we reported last year. The district has taken some big steps since we last checked. The eco-district concept—as realized in Seattle, Washington, D.C., Brooklyn, Denver, and elsewhere—takes a neighborhood-level approach to confronting environmental concerns. The goal is to maximize sustainable infrastructure by aggregating demand and coordinating implementation. In an eco-district, multiple property owners might choose to make a group purchase of alternative energy systems, for instance, or share greywater for reuse. An eco-district is a network of public and private partnerships, and thus goes beyond both planning policy and individual responses to ecological concerns. The Central SoMa Eco-District project is chugging along, thanks to a set of task-force recommendations [pdf] published in November. The task force included representatives of the city’s Planning Department, Department of Environment, Department of Public Health, and Public Utilities Commission, as well as advocacy groups and several design and building firms. It identified nine performance areas for consideration: energy, water, materials management, habitat/ecosystem function, equitable development, health and well-being, community identity, access and mobility, and economic development. In addition to brainstorming project opportunities for each area, the group recommended the formation of a steering committee to identify, manage, and measure eco-district goals. According to Kate McGee, lead planner at the San Francisco Planning Department, the Central SoMa Eco-District is in the second of three developmental phases: The first, over the past two years, involved educating San Franciscans. The second and current phase is what McGee calls questioning. The third phase is change. Of the questions being asked, McGee identified three as the most important. The first: what does the Central SoMa Eco-District mean to me? The Planning Department is working with large-scale developers to weigh the costs and benefits of particular infrastructure developments. For smaller developers, meanwhile, the city is considering requiring an assessment to identify a parcel’s environmental potential within the context of the eco-district as a whole. The second question is what will the Central SoMa Eco-District require me to do? To help the community along, the Planning Department has collected and is aggregating data on current district performance. “We’re going to take the first step and say, ‘here’s where you are,’ then say, ‘let us know what you want to do and how we can help,’” said McGee. The final question is how will the Central SoMa Eco-District be implemented, monitored, and managed? The task force has recommended that a steering committee consider some initial goals for the eco-district and decide how they might be implemented. The committee will consider from several oversight structures available, including forming a non-profit or establishing a Joint Powers Authority, before the city moves forward with financing the eco-district. While San Francisco’s first eco-district remains, in some sense, theoretical, its successful realization could bring tangible financial, environmental, and public-health benefits to residents of Central SoMa. “In many respects it really is quite preliminary,” said McGee. “But I feel that once we get the structure in place, things will move really quickly.” She is eager for the final phase of eco-district development. “When we get through the questioning,” she said, “we will then start to create change.”
UNESCOitalia: Italy’s World Heritage Sites in the Works of 14 Photographers Mueso Italo Americano Fort Mason Center, Building C San Francisco December 6 to January 26, 2014 In celebration of 2013: The Year of Italian Culture in the United States, the Museo Italo Americano, in partnership with the Italian Cultural Institute and the Consulate General of Italy in San Francisco, will be showcasing a collection of images of Italy’s UNESCO World Heritage sites as seen through the lenses of 14 prominent Italian photographers. To be proclaimed a World Heritage site, a number of criteria must be met, and the site must hold outstanding universal value by means of exceptional design or cultural significance to a group or civilization. As of June 2013, Italy has 49 UNESCO World Heritage sites, which is more than any other single country in the world. The traveling show will be on display at the Fort Mason Center in San Francisco from December 6, 2013, to January 26, 2014. Ambassador of Italy to the United States, Claudio Bisogniero, describes the exhibition as, “A journey in pictures, bringing the Italian wonders to the United States. Fine art photography for a fascinating exhibition: a visual adventure across the length and breadth of our country.”