Posts tagged with "San Francisco":

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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!
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QUICK CLICKS>Hadid in Glasgow, Transport Race, P2P, and the Rome Prize

Major in Glasgow. The Guardian reveals images of Zaha Hadid's new Riverside Museum in Glasgow, which highlights the machinery, technology, and history of transportation. Pictured above, the museum reflects the shipyard structures on its grounds. The Guardian's Jonathan Glancey writes, "Riverside blends into the climate and culture of Glasgow and its riverscape, feeling like part of its great flow of architecture and history." How to be quick. With the new East River ferry, which will be the fastest way to make it to work? To be sure, the Gothamist conducted a commuter race. The ferry was a lovely time to rest but a bit of a steep investment, biking a slightly more dangerous route, while the subway remained the quickest method, getting one commuter to work not only on time but with two minutes to spare. Making Space. SF streets blog shares a new project generously offered to the city by Audi, announcing more to come for San Francisco pedestrians. The Powell Street promenade will bring public space to the commercial downtown, part of a set of P2P (Pavement to Parks) projects to create green space in major cities including San Francisco, Chicago, and New York. The Rome Prize. The Rome Prize fellowship for architecture goes to Lonn Combs. The Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute professor and principal at New York based firm EASTON+COMBS will take the upcoming year to continue to explore the work of Italian architect Pier Luigi Nervi. Congratulazioni!    
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Quick Clicks> Parklet Lost, CityGarden Love, Chatham Scratched and Directing Traffic

Missing Parklet. Who would steal a parklet? The Oakland Local spotted a worried Facebook page for Actual Cafe whose parklet, pictured above, disappeared last week. San Francisco is the city that invented the parklet concept--transforming parking spaces into extensions of the sidewalk--and we hear they're quite popular, so what gives? The cafe has security footage of the early-morning incident. Celebrating CityGarden. St. Louis' much acclaimed urban sculpture park, CityGarden, has been awarded ULI's 2011 Amanda Burden Open Space Award, named for NYC's Planning Commissioner who sat on the selection jury. The St. Louis Post-Dispatch said the garden topped projects in Portland, OR and Houston to claim the $10,000 prize. Chatham Scratched. DNA reports that plans to transform Chinatown's Chatham Square at the foot of the Manhattan Bridge have been put on hold. The $30 million project would have reconfigured the busy confluence of seven streets to improve traffic flow and pedestrian safety, but with other construction projects already clogging the area, the city didn't want to make matters worse. Funds will be used for other Lower Manhattan projects instead. Directing Traffic. Robert Puentes, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, has penned a feature-length article on the future of transportation for the Wall Street Journal. In recounting the good, the bad, and the ugly of transportation policy, Puentes calls for innovation and sustainability along with increased access to boost the economy.
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Nilus Designs′ W.E.T. Seat

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Polycarbonate sheets become an interactive bench, part of Fort Mason Center's upcoming SEAT exhibition.

San Francisco’s Fort Mason Center will be the stage for an outdoor chair show set to open June 23. Called SEAT, the yearlong exhibition is being curated by artist and landscape designer Topher Delaney, of Seam Studio, and will include work by more than 40 designers, artists, and architects. Each team was given a site on the former Fort’s 13-acre waterfront campus, which now serves as an arts and culture venue. As one of the invited participants, San Francisco-based Nilus Designs is preparing an interactive piece called W.E.T: West End Terminal, an anthropomorphic bench created with carefully stacked strata of clear twin-wall polycarbonate.  
  • Fabricator Nilus Designs
  • Designer Nilus Designs
  • Location San Francisco, California
  • Completion Date In progress
  • Material Clear twin-wall polycarbonate
  • Process CNC milling
With a site at the northwest corner of the Fort’s third pier, the team headed by Nilus de Matran, wanted to create a seat design that would evoke the seaside location. The design came to resemble a beached sea creature and the team spoke in terms of “more muscle” and “too much bone” as the shape was modeled in Rhino. Because of the outdoor location, construction material needed durability, but also some connection with the environment. Clear, twin-wall polycarbonate had the necessary structural strength, and its cellular form will allow salt and sand to accumulate inside, making it one with the site. The bench, now in the assembly phase, will be formed from 208 vertical sections, cut from 34 sheets of 4-foot-by-8-foot, 16mm polycarbonate. Nilus does not own its own machining equipment, so they used the new San Francisco facilities of Techshop, a public machine shop that offers access to (and training for) a wide range of equipment. Polycarbonate was even a new material for Techshop’s employees, but the team successfully learned how to use a ShopBot CNC router to cut the sheets with a two-flute router bit. The fabricated pieces will be glued together, resulting in a 16-foot long-by-8-foot-wide form that is nearly 6 feet tall. The bench will also be interactive. An internal cavity wired with LEDs will glow when visitors stand on the bench’s mirrored acrylic platform—they can use laser-etched “dot” and “dash” buttons to send Morse code messages to others on the pier. The mirrored base, bolted to the pier’s surface, will reflect the sky and surroundings, but it will also offer an opportunity for the design to incorporate another interactive feature. Laser-etched QR codes will allow visitors to find information about Fort Mason and donors to the W.E.T. project, as well as details about the 2012 America’s Cup, to which most of the exhibition’s pieces will have a front row seat.
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Quick Clicks> Top Transit Towns, HUD in Hot Water, Graceland Safe, & An Interior Award

Transit Surprise. The Atlantic has the 10 best and worst cities for public transportation based on a report on transit and access to jobs from the Brookings Institution. The think tank ranked cities by the area served and the share of city jobs accessible by public transit. The results might surprise you: none of the cities with the best public transit are on the East Coast. HUD in Hot Water. The Washington Post alleged that "HUD has lost hundreds of millions on delayed or defunct construction deals nationwide" in its new investigative series "Million-Dollar Wasteland." The paper explores, among deals in other cities, a failed project in D.C. where speculators profited at the cost of millions for the city government. Graceland Saved. The flooding along the Mississippi River has spared Memphis' key historic landmarks. According to NPR, Graceland, Sun Studio (where Elvis Presley recorded), and Stax Records (which launched Otis Redding's career) were unharmed. But some of Louisiana's most valuable farmland is expected to be inundated by rising waters. Interior Award. Bar Agricole in San Francisco won the 2011 James Beard Award for Best Restaurant Interior, reported Fast Company. The restaurant, which serves French-inspired food sourced from local farms, features billowing glass sculptures, walls lined with strips of oak from whiskey barrels, recycled oak seating, and concrete banquettes. Restauranteur Thad Vogler collaborated with Aidlin Darling Design, which received co-ownership for its work.
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Aidlin Darling′s Bar Agricole Banquettes: Concreteworks

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Ribbon-thin Ductal concrete creates sculptural seating at a San Francisco eatery.

The Aidlin Darling-designed Bar Agricole has brought new life to a warehouse in San Francisco’s industrial South of Market neighborhood. Built in 1912, the renovated building is now home to the 4,000-square-foot “urban tavern” owned by restaurateur Thad Vogler. Taking an unconventional approach to realizing his design vision, Vogler commissioned work from the designer and a variety of trades in exchange for a stake in the business. One of those craftsmen was Oakland-based concrete design and fabrication company Concreteworks.
  • Fabricator Concreteworks
  • Designer Aidlin Darling Design
  • Location San Francisco, California
  • Completion Date Fall 2010
  • Material Ductal Concrete
  • Process Casting
Concrete isn’t the first material that comes to mind when designing restaurant seating, but Joshua Aidlin envisioned ribbon-thin fixed banquettes extruding from the wooden “hull” that would form one wall of the interior. The seats would complement other concrete elements, including the integrally colored concrete floor and board-formed concrete bars, but they would be made from an ultra-high performance fiber-reinforced concrete called Ductal. Developed by Canadian cement manufacturer Lafarge, the high-strength material is gaining increasing popularity for applications like furniture, facades, and other architectural design elements. With a guaranteed lifespan of 50 years, the material has four to eight times the compression strength of conventional concrete, allowing it to be used for very slender, lightweight structures. Working in their 12,000-square-foot, pre-World War II manufacturing facility, the Concreteworks team created metal formwork for the banquette’s dark gray Ductal elements; the at 5-by-5-by-5- foot pieces are formed with a seat on either side of a parabolic backrest. The entire cast form is only one inch thick. A special form with one seat and one flat side was made for the end of the seating row, and the curling base of each banquette is also cast from a separate mold. A three-piece host stand topped with two-inch reclaimed oak mirrors the seats, which are topped with slender, curving pieces of oak for comfort. Like the restaurant’s reclaimed elements and locally fabricated materials, Ductal will help the project achieve LEED Platinum certification because it requires fewer raw materials and limits fabrication waste.