Posts tagged with "San Francisco":

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Scientists Wire a Luxury Tower in San Francisco with Seismic Sensors

California’s tallest residential-only tower and, according to some, the ugliest building in San Francisco has been given a new purpose following the installation last month of 72 accelerographs, or strong motion seismographs, within the building. Through a collaboration between the California Geological Survey, the U.S. Geological Survey, and Madnusson Klemencic Associates, the building’s structural engineers, the 641-foot southern tower of the One Rincon Hill luxury condominium development at the base of the Bay Bridge is now home to the “densest network of seismic monitoring instruments ever installed in an American high-rise,” the San Francisco Chronicle reported. These instruments, located at strategic points throughout 24 floors of the building, will provide “unprecedented” seismic data, which will in turn lead to better building codes and guidelines for structural engineers and future high-rise builders. Designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz of Chicago and completed 2009, One Rincon Hill has been a target of architectural debate since before it was completed, but its merits as an earthquake-resistant piece of engineering have never been doubted. While the building resembles an Ionic Breeze air purifier from Sharper Image (the project was originally intended to serve as the company’s headquarters before financial problems befell them in 2005), it is outfitted with cutting-edge engineering, some of which is being used for the first time ever in the United States. Equipped with a ductile concrete core, a steal outrigger column system, buckling restrained braces, and a 54,000-gallon water tank at the top to counter the sway of the wind, One Rincon Hill is prepared to withstand an earthquake of 6.7 or greater. Which is good, since experts predict that there is a 63% chance of a quake of that magnitude occurring in the Bay Area in the next 30 years. The building’s location, height, and structural integrity together provided for a nearly ideal home for the largest collection of seismic sensors found in any California high-rise. These instruments, housed in small black boxes, are constantly operating, and will measure the buildings movement, both horizontal and vertical, up to a thousandth of an inch. In the case of a significant earthquake of a magnitude of 3 or higher, the data from the sensors will be transmitted immediately to state and federal scientists in Sacramento and Menlo Park to be analyzed. Anthony Shakal, head of the California Geological Survey’s Strong Motion Instrument Program expects the devices will help design safer buildings and hopes to install similar devices on tall buildings and other structures, collecting a wealth of information to assist in preventing future seismic disasters.
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San Francisco To Help Citizens Create “Better Streets”

  One of Jane Jacobs’ most valuable contributions to the understanding of cities was her faith in the wisdom of the urban dweller. She argued that the physical city—and any approach to city planning—could not be separated from the wisdom of each individual inhabitant, “People who know well such animated city streets will know how it is. I am afraid people who do not will always have it a little wrong in their heads, like the old prints of rhinoceroses made from travelers’ descriptions of rhinoceroses.” The complication arising from Jacobs’ argument is simple though difficult to solve; how can we plan a city when planning is one part abstraction and abstraction removes us from Jacobs’ precious “real life” mentality? A step towards solving this contradiction is sfbetterstreets.org, a website launched last week by the City of San Francisco. Developed by the San Francisco Planning Department in conjunction with other city agencies, the website is part of the city’s larger, “Better Streets” initiative. The legislative concept, described in San Francisco's Better Streets Plan, is to create streets “designed and built to strike a balance between all users regardless of physical abilities or mode of travel… maximizing features for the comfort, usability, and aesthetics of people walking.” Many cities have made strides to improve the everyday experience of urban dwellers; PlaNYC in New York is an excellent example. Unique to San Francisco’s approach though—encapsulated in the “Better Streets” website—is an emphasis on direct citizen engagement through the provision of necessary tools for engaging city government and the community. The website empowers individual citizens and associations to change their streets by including ideas for street improvements, accessible descriptions of necessary permit processes, and suggestions for building community support. On the page for each specific street improvement, a small box entitled "Agency who can help" provides access to further information on how to request a specific street improvement. Sfbetterstreets.org is best understood as city-supported citizen engagement. When the New York City Department of Transportation created a website to solicit crowd-sourced suggestions for locating stations of the upcoming Bike Share program, it received over 70,000 votes from interested members of the public. San Francisco’s “Better Streets” outreach is an important example of how to harness the public’s interest in shaping city planning. Although a city-led initiative, “Better Streets” taps into the city itself, acknowledging what Jane Jacobs believes to be the most knowledgeable voice in the city: the people themselves.
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LA the Latest to Join the Nationwide Bike Share Game

Over the weekend, over 100,000 pedestrians and cyclists packed the streets of Los Angeles for the city's CicLAvia open streets initiative, a play off of the the Ciclovia in Bogotá, Columbia which popularized the movement to shut down city streets to cars and turn them over to the community for a day. But masses of people taking to the streets wasn't the big news out of LA. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa made a surprise announcement that the city is the latest to join the bike share craze that's been pedaling across the nation. When it opens later this year, LA's bike share system will be among the largest in the country, so AN decided to take stock of where some of the biggest initiatives stand today. Los Angeles will be partnering with local bike share company Bike Nation to bring 4,000 bikes distributed over 400 stations throughout the city, marking a $16 million investment by the company. Bike sharing programs have been popular because of these public-private partnerships where the physical infrastructure is paid for by a private operator and funded by branding and member fees. According to StreetsBlog LA, the mayor said, "Angelenos are aching for a day without a car." He jokingly invoked the catch-phrase "Carmaheaven" describing the splendor of car-free streets created during last year's infamous Carmageddon. A previous attempt at initiating a bike share program failed in 2008 as many worried a flood of inexperienced cyclists would overwhelm the city, but times have changed. The city hopes to have the program installed in phases over the next couple years, with the first bikes hitting the streets as early as the end of the year. Farther north in California, a regional bike share system is taking shape in San Francisco and several Silicon Valley cities. 500 bike will be distributed throughout downtown San Francisco just before the opening of the America's Cup boat race. An additional 500 bikes will be located near transit stops in Redwood City, Mountain View, Palo Alto, and San Jose. StreetsBlog SF reports that the San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has set a goal of 20 percent of trips in the city on bike by 2020. On the east coast, New York's massive 10,000 bike strong system will be the largest in the country by far and is expected to open this July. The city has been presenting preliminary station maps to community boards after a public input process earlier this year and a finalized map is expected to be released soon. 600 stations are planned across Manhattan and Brooklyn. Excitement across the city has been growing as evidenced by a recent bike share exhibition at the Center for Architecture. In Chicago, many have been waiting to see if DOT Commissioner Gabe Klein can pull of another bike share success story like he did when he helped set up a Capital Bikeshare in Washington, DC. His newest program will launch this September, sprinkling some 3,000 bikes across 300 stations in the Windy City with another 2,000 bikes and 200 more stations in the following two years. Mobility in the city took one additional step forward last Friday as the Pedestrian and Traffic Safety Committee approved a contract with Alta Bike Share of Portland, Oregon to provide the thousands of new bikes. But not to be left out, that bike Mecca of American cities—Portland—is starting up its own bike share system as well. The city released an RFP for a bike operator in March and bids are due at the end of May. With an anticipated opening set for April 2013, expect to see even more bikes will be cruising the Rose City. Bike Portland noted that the city is hoping to use the bike stations as place-making devices to maximize their benefits. Citizens are currently being invited to propose bike station locations on an interactive map.
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America’s Cup Carousel Keeps Turning

The real estate roulette wheel known as the San Francisco America’s Cup is still in spin.  In the latest turn of events, the city has kicked in a modest $8 million or so to complete partial repairs to Piers 30-32, which had previously been removed from the deal by the privately-run America’s Cup Event Authority (ACEA). Then, citing difficulties in securing corporate sponsors, the Authority named a new CEO and cut its staff in half. It’s sounding like the America’s Cup isn’t going to be quite the mega-draw that the ACEA thought and that the investor with the most skin in the game, Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, wasn’t willing to risk the $100 million or so he would be contributing. While many in San Francisco are bemoaning the loss of the opportunity to remake some of the most dilapidated parts of the city's waterfront, the ability to attract spectators to competitive sailing is the core issue.  The Cup will still be an exciting event in San Francisco but to be a catalyst to revitalize portions of the waterfront it will take a sustained effort.
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On View> Architecture in the Expanded Field

Architecture in the Expanded Field CCA Wattis Institute for Contemporary Arts 1111 8th St., San Francisco Through April 7 Theorist and critic Rosalind Krauss’s 1979 text “Sculpture in the Expanded Field” attempts to identify the scope of sculpture in a time when artists were redefining its traditional limits to include considerations of architecture, landscape, and space. The Wattis attempts a similar redefinition of the field of architecture; installations explore material, spatial, and perceptual concerns with emerging experimental technologies outside the limits of traditional architectural practice. A full-scale installation within and outside of the gallery transports visitors into the immersive environment, while a surface component presents the mapped expanded field of architectural installation.
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Salesforce’s Pastel Campus on Hold In SF

The SF Chronicle reports that tech company Salesforce.com has put its big plans for a 2 million square foot Mission Bay campus on hold. Recently deceased architect Ricardo Legoretta was to lead the project, which would have included four colorful buildings and a large public plaza on 14 acres across from the UCSF Mission Bay  campus. The company will instead rent big blocks of space throughout the city until it decides what to do with the site. Stay tuned for more.  
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Don’t We all Need One of These? SPUR Opens San Jose Office

One of the Bay Area's most effective urban instigators, SPUR (San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association) is opening an office in San Jose. The move came about for a few reasons, says the group. First, San Francisco has a declining share of the region's population, so it makes sense to branch out. And second, most planning decisions are made locally, so SPUR needs to establish footholds in the area's major cities. The new branch office was made possible by a successful $1 million fundraising campaign that will fund operations over the next three years. Leah Toeniskoetter will head up the new office and brings a background in real estate and economic development and finance. "San Jose wants to be walkable, it wants more transit-oriented development and sustainability," SPUR Director Gabriel Metcalf told the San Francisco Business Times. "In many ways, San Jose’s challenge is America’s challenge." A move to Oakland could be next on SPUR's agenda.
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West Coast Park(ing) Day Diary

What if we could transform part of the massive space we dedicate to urban parking into public parks, and what would it look like? On Friday, over 100 cities worldwide participated in the sixth annual PARK(ing) Day, where citizens and designers temporarily converted metered parking spots into open public space. While we couldn't jet set around the world, a couple of our reporters checked out the happenings in California, where the concept was born. Before you check out the parks, we should mention that these grassroots efforts are slowly influencing permanent change. In San Francisco, a City Planning Department collaboration with design firm Rebar, which helped begin PARK(ing) Day, has led to the creation of the “Parklets” program, where parking spots around the city are being converted into permanent plazas and outdoor seating.  And on Friday, LA City Council members Jan Perry and Jose Huizar announced a partnership with local neighborhood groups in downtown LA and Eagle Rock to begin a Parklets pilot program in Los Angeles.   San Francisco, by Ariel Rosenstock  Visiting the west coast for the week, I had the opportunity to check out PARK(ing) Day in San Francisco. It was a perfect September day in northern California, crisp but sunny and a little breezy. Walking north along Valencia Street, I arrived at the first park: a grassy patch with a petite shed with a mini green roof. I talked with Jeanette Arpagaus, from the Green Roof Alliance, who discussed her foray into the green business after hearing an inspiring lecture by scientist Paul Kemper, from the California Academy of Sciences. Parking spots were creatively fashioned into a variety of venues.  Further north was an outdoor yoga session—a parking space lined with yoga mats and visitors perfecting their stretches. Continuing down Valencia, I spotted a pallet wood structure bordering a parking space with a tree rising from the center. Here I met Andrew Dunbar from Interstice Architects, who was dressed in a pirate costume. He told me that the “Parrrrrrrrrk-let” represented a pirate ship, with decks for seating, and the tree a “mast.” The Interstice park was located in front of 826 Valencia, a nonprofit after school writing program that houses a pirate-wares shop in the storefront.  Dunbar also explained that the volume enclosed by the pallet wood ship represented 800 cubic feet, the amount of soil a tree requires for healthy roots. He was proud to support the Robin Hood style cause. For my last stop, I was urged to pet Shaun the Sheep down the street. Outside of the coffee shop, Ritual, was a tiny urban barn: two parking spaces were lined with hay benching and a mini alfalfa patch for the sheep.     Los Angeles, by Sam Lubell Perhaps it's the economy or a slight dip in enthusiasm, but it was a pretty disappointing Park(ing) Day in LA, with fewer architecture and landscape firms taking part, and fewer parks with more creative elements than turf and tents . But still some of the city's mini parks managed to stand out on this uncharacteristically grey day in the city. By far the most impressive was Standard's park outside of Silver Lake restaurant Local. The project was highlighted by a topiary-like artificial turf "PARK" sign, wrapped around plywood and sitting in front of elegant sandboxes and beach chairs that while at first sitting empty eventually became quite popular. Just down the street the Echo Park Time Bank put together a park called "Visions of the Circuit City Ruins," that while not much design-wise, was a lot of fun. Visitors were asked to think of replacements for the abandoned Circuit City behind the park (ideas included a roller rink, a plant forest and a film center), and were treated to astrology readings and free shots of water infused with "clarity" and "absolute joy". In Downtown LA Pfeiffer Partners put together a plant shrouded park on 7th Street. Benches and walls made of plywood shipping crates and a floor made of carpet samples showed imagination. Right next door SWA put together a flexible canopy made entirely of used plastic bags (to be recycled later) and PVC piping. The Downtown LA Neighborhood Council's park on 7th and Spring showed a lot of energy, with it's sod floor and potted plant barriers abutting one of Downtown's most walkable streets. A nice touch were bikes that could be pedaled in place to recreate the experience of biking downtown. On West 3rd street in West Hollywood local firm Front Yard Farming showed off a line of parklets showcasing simple but pretty flowers, tables, chairs, and willow fencing over a sod groundscape. But unfortunately the crowd wasn't having it. C0-organizer Helen Jupiter, author of blog Front Yardening, said that "out of 50 people walking by, about 42 didn't  even look at us." Must be something in the air, because in other parts of the city crowds gathered, and one school group even made an effort to visit every parking day structure the city had to offer.
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“Architecture of Consequence” Opens in San Francisco

Last night, the AIA SF launched a new exhibition, Architecture of Consequence: San Francisco, kicking off a whole slew of events in its annual Architecture in the City Festival, the country's biggest such celebration of the built environment. The exhibit explores important social needs that architects can address and features the work of four San Francisco firms—Iwamoto Scott Architecture, Fletcher Studio, SOM, and Envelope A+D—side-by-side with four Dutch firms—Van Bergen Kolpa Architecten, 2012 Architecten, ZUS (Zones Humaines Sensibles), and OMA. Originally conceived by the Netherlands Architecture Institute in 2009, this spin-off of the internationally touring exhibit shows that similar preoccupations are on the minds of architects everywhere—whether it's renewable energy, adaptive reuse, local food production, or thoughtful urban infill. David Fletcher gave the whole exhibit a major boost of local flava with Beta-Bridge (above), "a radical reinvention and reuse of the soon-to-be-demolished eastern span of the existing Bay Bridge." He proposed to load the upper deck of the bridge with medical cannabis greenhouses and the lower deck with a data farm; the water used to irrigate the cannabis plants would circulate down and cool off the chugging servers. On the other end of the scale, OMA revisualized the world in terms of energy. In lieu of standard geopolitical boundaries, it divided the European continent into areas such as Biomassburg, Carbon Capture and Storage Republic (CCSR), and Solaria. The exhibition continues through October 21, and each of the San Francisco firms has been paired up with a Dutch firm to give a discussion about their shared interest over the course of the month (see schedule of talks). The Architecture and the City Festival runs through the end of the month, with in-depth tours of new projects such as Bar Agricole (September 10), the ever-popular Home Tours (September 17-18), and a unique opportunity to experience what it's like to navigate the city without sight ("Acoustic Wayfinding for the Blind," (September 20) led by architect Chris Downey, who talked about losing his sight in a 2010 issue of AN). Check out the full calendar of events.
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Excerpt> Cityscapes by John King Rewards the Careful Observer

As the San Francisco Chronicle's urban design critic for the last decade, John King is one of the Bay Area's most influential champions of good architecture. He chronicles the city's projects, both large and small, with an eye to how they how they affect the city. (Most recently, he sounded the alarm about how the America's Cup, with its proposed yacht dock, could change the waterfront for the worse.) His new book of short essays, Cityscapes (Heyday, 2011, $14.95), is based on his weekly column of the same name. Instead of a coffee-table tome, King's book is a very accessible, pocket-sized paperback. The 50 buildings—many unknown and unsung—are King's homage to the unexpected architectural delights that reward the careful observer. "I also wanted to highlight the often-provocative ways in which buildings of different eras overlap," King said. Here are two excerpts from the book, selected by King, that show the sweeping range of architecture in the city. Take it away, John! Roosevelt Middle School 460 Arguello Boulevard Timothy Pflueger is revered in San Francisco for such Jazz Age showpieces as 450 Sutter Street and the City Club. Don’t look for Art Deco at his Roosevelt Middle School in the Inner Richmond, though. This is 1920s modernism with an industrial European bent, a three- story block that comes alive in the snap of copper-framed windows amid chiseled brickwork, or the battlement-like accents beneath a tower of propulsive thrust. Throughout his career, Pflueger understood instinctively that a city’s most resonant buildings are the ones that strike a visceral chord, no matter what their style might be. Miller and Pflueger, 3 stories, 1930 Kayak House Mission Creek Park Infrastructure takes all forms in the twenty-first century, including such once-exotic tasks as keeping kayaks safe and dry, and this storage hut near the west end of Mission Creek is the most lyrical shed you’ll ever see. Imagine a graceful tent open at both ends, the long sides arcing up and in until the ribs slide past each other, tepee-like, one side cloaked in translucent blue plastic and the other in stained wooden slats. Nestled beneath the thrumming sweep of Interstate 280 near a mundane chunk of master-planned Mission Bay, blissfully dismissive of the drear and noise, there’s no big message here save one: Whatever is worth doing is worth doing well. MKThink, 28 feet tall, 2008
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Quick Clicks> Brodsky’s Vienna, Seating San Fran, Wind in the West, & Explorers Underground

Day becomes night. Alexander Brodsky: It still amazes me that I became an architect will be open at the Architekturzentrum Wien in Vienna, Austria through October 3. Described by the gallery as a "total installation," Archidose also notes that during the exhibition "the day becomes night, the dimensions of space and time appear to slowly dissolve as one paces an archaeological chamber of wonders. Having returned to daylight, a selection of Brodsky's completed projects provides insights into his architectural oeuvre." (More images after the jump.) Steel becomes ribbon. Streetsblog reports that San Francisco metaphorically cut the ribbon, unveiling a new public space on the two-block Powell Street Promenade.  The Union Square shopping district is greatly improved by the eight six-foot wide Walter Hood-designed benches, constructed to resemble delicate ribbons. Above the fray. The Westerholt E-66 Observation Wind Turbine stands out among the 40 turbines in the Holtriem Wind Park: it’s unique observation deck provides visitors with panoramic views of one Europe’s largest wind farms—for a price. Visitors must climb a 297-step spiral staircase to reach the viewing deck, according to Atlas Obscura. Under the city. Produced by Silent UK, the documentary film Beneath the Surface trails urban explorers as they descend below the cities of London and Paris, says PSFK. The explorers climb through sewers, old subway lines, reminiscent of the NY Times five-day adventure last December under New York.
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Quick Clicks> Ando’s Silence, Solar-Jet Printing, Attn:Birds, & Post Post

Ando's Silence. According to Dezeen, UK developer Grosvenor has partnered with the Westminster City Council on a project to open public space in Mayfair, London. The project aims to reduce unnecessary visual elements like signage and expand pedestrian areas. Architect Tadao Ando collaborated with firm Blair Associates to design Silence, an installation that intermittently produces fiber-optically illuminated vapor rising from the bases of trees. Power Plant Printer. MIT News has revealed an exciting new technology: printable solar cells. According to MIT: "The basic process is essentially the same as the one used to make the silvery lining in your bag of potato chips: a vapor-deposition process that can be carried out inexpensively on a vast commercial scale." So, not quite as easy as, say, printing out a power station on your inkjet, but still able to revolutionize the future of solar installations. Building for Birds. The City of San Francisco is making an example of a new California Academy of Science building. It's design for the birds. The San Francisco Chronicle notes the building's innovative fabric screen deterring bird-on-building collisions could be applied to other structures in the city. "Bird-safe design" is a growing part of the conversation, but the question remains: will altering the transparency of urban glass structures detract from the design intent? Déjà vu Design. Does that new building look strangely familiar? A new website called Post Post bills itself as the "comparative architecture index." By juxtaposing projects of similar design languages or forms, the site hopes to "to illuminate the interwoven and complex relationships of congruous trajectories within contemporary architectural practice." Have a look!