Posts tagged with "San Francisco":

100-percent affordable housing complex proposed for San Francisco’s Mission District

San Francisco–based David Baker Architects, along with affordable housing developers BRIDGE Housing Corporation and Mission Housing Development Corporation, have released conceptual renderings for an upcoming, 100-percent affordable housing complex in San Francisco. The project, 1950 Mission, is to be developed in the Mission District neighborhood of the city and will provide 157 affordable units to the area, with 20 percent of those units set aside for formerly homeless families and the remaining homes allotted for families making between 45 and 60 percent of the area median income. According to city-data.com, the average median income for the Mission District in 2013 was $73,718.

The 1950 Mission complex is designed as a pair of apartment blocks connected by a central courtyard with a large, nine-story building fronting Mission Street and a smaller, five-story structure located along a mid-block alleyway.

The primary structure on Mission Street features a variously articulated facade arrangement that is segmented into three sections with a central stepped black-panel-clad portion flanked on either side by street-fronting apartment blocks. These facades, similarly clad in panelized finishes along the lower four floors with stucco walls above, feature storefront windows along the ground floor and punched openings denoting the apartment units above. The storefronts include smaller-than-average retail spaces designed to be occupied by local businesses, with plans to include an art gallery as well. The commercial areas along the ground floor will also feature varying ceiling heights, between 11 and 20 feet, in an arrangement that will help to boost the overall number of units developed through the project. The areas along the ground floor are set back from the building mass in certain areas, allowing the units above to create covered outdoor space underneath by acting as shade-casting overhangs.

The smaller apartment block will be accessed via a mid-block public approach that also connects to the central courtyard space and will feature an “artists’ paseo,” a walkway flanked with artists’ studios. With this arrangement, the designers hope to create a community gathering spot and arts-focused public space. The second apartment structure is set back from the alley with a 10-foot-wide planted area and features masonry-clad, undulating facades with specialized window hoods covering most of the building’s punched apertures. Those hoods are articulated to shield the openings from solar glare, and dot the stepped facade along various exposures. The building is topped by a rooftop garden and urban agriculture facility the architects have dubbed “Jardin de Las Familias,” and is connected to the larger structure via a series of stacked skywalks that traverse the courtyard area.

The project will provide on-site supportive services for future tenants via providers PODER, Mission Neighborhood Centers’ Head Start and Early-Head Start, Lutheran Social Services, and Mission Girls Services mentorship programs. Cervantes Design Associates will serve as associate architect on the project, which is currently moving through the entitlement process. A timeline for construction has not yet been released.

Colin Touhey of Pvilion on the future of facades and flexible solar panels

Colin Touhey is the founder of Pvilion, a New York-based company that designs and manufactures flexible photovoltaic (PV) solar structures and products. He is also wrapping up a fall semester fabrication studio at Columbia University GSAPP titled “Wired Skin.” Touhey will be presenting at the upcoming Facades+AM San Francisco conference on the concluding panel, titled Facades: The Next Generation. The Architect's Newspaper (AN): What’s your office like? Half of our office is a design office, and the other half is a workshop where we get our hands dirty. We are also building what we're designing. We're not a contractor, we're not an engineer, and we're not an architect—we're a little bit of all of those things. We come into a project as scrappy experts. We're talking about how to hoist up a building component early on in the design process. When we sign a contract with someone, we don't know how we're going to solve a problem, but we know that we will be able to figure out a solution. More conservative firms would say, ‘Oh we'll sell this when we know exactly how it's going to get done.’ If we knew exactly how to do a project before we started it, we wouldn't be in business. How does Pvilion balance futuristic tech with commercial work? We see what's 10-years out, and are working on that. But we also have [a] real product today. The two feed off each other. While we [have] a futuristic technology, we're not futurists. We're not sitting around speculating about what's going to happen in 50 years. What are some issues you are working through at Pvilion? We're trying to create building skins that both increase energy performance and reduce fossil fuel consumption. We're also providing a platform in which an architect can create. Rather than working with glass or steel, if you're wrapping a building in a flexible material, you can create interesting forms, and with those forms you can produce electricity. Also, we are thinking a lot about the installation process. Like Christmas lights, 30 to 50 solar panels can arrive on site folded up and pre-wired. When you're paying union labor to hang off the side of a facade with a tower crane, you want an efficient installation process. Due to the modularity of the system, you can replace components as needed without taking the entire system down. What’s next for facades? We're not only coming up with some rendering and saying, ‘Wouldn't this be the city of the future!?’ This is real now. We're not a research lab with kooky ideas about stuff that will never be built. We have real projects, we're really building things, and we have experience. Our work is UL certified, grid-tied, and warranty-able for 25 years. One of the really interesting things we're looking at now is dynamic facade elements. [With] these pieces, you have...south, east, and west facades [that] may all be moving throughout the course of the day, like a solar tracker. When you add the fourth dimension into a building, which is time, you end up with a moving system—your building is changing over the course of a day, and over the course of its lifetime. That's an entirely new concept that is really exciting for us. When your goal is to maximize energy production, dynamic facade elements are very intriguing. For example, consider a fabric membrane that's twisting over the course of the day, so it's opening up the facade when there isn't much light, and it's closing it up where there's more light, and it's simultaneously producing more energy. Can you give us a preview of what we can expect from your studio at Columbia? We are looking at the building facade as an opportunity to provide shade, increase building performance, and provide electricity. The idea of a wired skin—a living breathing organism—is electrical and mechanical and serves many purposes. The skin should protect you from the environment. It is a porous envelope, but also an enclosure. How do you balance the openness of the facade? Do you cut holes in it? Do you open it up? Do you fully enclose it? Do you create heat chimneys so that air flows between the glazing and your skin? Also, what are its thermal properties, and how can you take advantage of shading the building. Those are all the things we're exploring. Since we are not academic professors, we're grounding this course in reality—which is important to us. It's a fabrication studio class, so we're building facade elements. The deliverable at the end of the semester is to build a facade element that moves and works, and then provide a scale model of the building that has hundreds of facade elements on it. We're saying if you can't build it, you shouldn't be designing it.
Touhey takes the stage with Jason Kelly Johnson of Future Cities Lab and Sanjeev Tankha of Walter P. Moore to discuss the next generation of facades. Go to Facades+ AM San Francisco to learn more about the event and the other sessions taking place.

Endemic Architecture reimagines the Victorian turret at Jai & Jai Gallery

Oakland, California–based Endemic Architecture’s most recent exhibition, Mind Your Mannerisms, at Jai & Jai Gallery in Los Angeles, examines the existential meaning behind San Francisco’s variant of the Victorian turret, what the firm refers to as one of many “architectural darlings” that populate our world.

For the firm, “darlings” consist of fundamentally architectural symbols that convey meaning in built form universally, like the column, the pediment, or the chimney. These “darlings” are the elements that are both widely understood by laypeople as words used in architecture’s formal language and simultaneously deployed (or subverted) by architects themselves to say, “this is (still) architecture.”

In Mind Your Mannerisms, the selected “darling”—turrets—is poked, pinched, and puckered in an effort to not only lend a sense of intellectual rigor to its whimsical forms, but to also induce new layer of new meaning and understanding resulting from the anipulation of its symbolic, anachronistic geometries.

The firm utilizes collections of contextual photography showing the diverse manifestations of the turret typology in San Francisco’s built environment as a starting point in order to generate generalized drawings of particular, observed tendencies. In the process, the darling gets redefined from an object made up of discrete architectural components into a collection of quasi-digital surfaces where a series of formal maneuvers have been applied to two disparate objects: the turret itself and the so-called “Victorian” building to which it is attached.

The firm uses these guiding considerations to generate interventions enacted upon a handful of existing and observed turret types, focusing on these aspects of each and amplifying or deforming their found conditions. These interventions are initially explored through a series of beguiling, shaded line drawings, side-by-side comparisons of found and manipulated elevation views displayed in gold-painted frames. The turrets take on the formal ambiguities of M.C. Escher drawings, as cornices become tangent to and sweep around rounded corners, conical roof forms loft to meet simply sloping ones and sections of walls are deleted or extruded up and down the form. Shingles and siding are along for the ride, too; they are scaled, alternated, and shifted accordingly.

The drawings are then taken into three dimensions via three large, ambiguously-scaled maquettes. Two of these objects are installed directly on the gallery walls, which have been painted with the black silhouettes of generic Victorian building forms. A third form is freestanding, its bulbous and rumpled masses sagging in an exaggerated, Pablo Escobar–style paunch. The turrets are lent a scale-less distortion by the firm’s use of repurposed, full-scale turret windows salvaged from recently-demolished structures in the models. The relic windows, one with panes fritted, the other with a set of secondary, chamfered interior surfaces located just inside the window frame, again obscure the true nature of these sculptural objects. Is each one actually a turret-shaped building? Are they one-to-one mock-ups of diminutive turrets? It’s hard to tell, but that’s partially the point. This transformation from orthographic drawing to object-in-the-round gives each turret conflicting, multiple meanings, as the physical properties of their material components clash with one another. One wall-mounted turret is clad in sheets of woodgrain veneer, cut out and styled so their ends curl up. The freestanding turret is topped with a tiara of faux-fur.

And if we can look past the Seuss-ian  forms the turrets take and look at them for what they are—geometric abstractions—something clicks into place: Thenhaus and his team are using San Francisco’s turret as a learning tool. By imposing an order and then manipulating that order, working to generate new forms that still fit the decided upon definition for what a turret is, the designers lend clarity to something that is otherwise shrouded in mystery. The question is: Are the new creations Victorian turrets, still?

It’s hard to tell because Victorian architectural forms juggle many considerations simultaneously: They are typically proportioned in accordance with light and air, are aggressively ornamented, and do a great job of breaking down massive buildings into pleasant  agglomerations of cute things like cornices,windows, porches, and yes, turrets. Victorian architecture makes no sense at all, however, from the point of view the rationalist, diagram-driven, methodology of contemporary practice that has been applied to its formal existence here.

By subsuming the particularities of the Victorian ecosystem of styles in this way, the researchers point out the barren lexical memory of their profession and the ways in which building components, once discrete, measurable and observable objects, have been replaced in contemporary discourse with digital modeling processes and “if, then” reactions, in which collections of dots, lines, and planes are swept, lofted, tweened, and booleaned to generate form. In both cases, meaning results from the processes undertaken in order to generate form and not, as is the case with Victorian architecture, from the symbolic and physical properties of the forms themselves.

Viewed through this lens, the works presented in the exhibition can be seen not merely as generative, architectural by-products begat from architecturally-focused observation, but as a part of that conversation in their own right. That is, Endemic’s turrets, with their quizzical proportions, jiggery-pokery of material, and side eye toward playful formalism are as helpful in Endemic’s attempt to define the turret typology as the observed turrets themselves.

Redefining residential architecture: Clark Manus

The Architect's Newspaper (AN) spoke with Clark Manus, formerly the 87th president of the AIA, who will be presenting at the upcoming Facades+ AM San Francisco panel titled “Redefining Residential Architecture.” Manus has served as an advisor to the Mayor of San Francisco, chairing the Citizens Advisory Group for the area that was vacated for the removal of the freeways in Rincon Hill in the 1980s. He currently lives in Oakland and was appointed by its mayor to serve as Planning Commissioner. Also a CEO of Heller Manus Architects, Manus says his firm has completed over 50 projects at a range of scales, jokingly saying they have done everything aside from hospitals and jails. We spoke about defining issues in the Bay Area that are shaping new construction: cost of construction, San Francisco’s historic urban fabric, energy codes, and more. On Cost of Construction Manus says the difference in the type of facade materials you would use in a Type III building—rainscreen assemblies, punched windows, shingles—is dramatically different than a Type I building where curtain walls are utilized. Manus said California’s statute of limitations for condo liability—set at 10-years—establishes a motive for developers to construct buildings using more durable Type I construction, as opposed to Type III or Type V, when they can afford it. "You begin to look at issues on the facade related to the efficiency of the structural system, and the use of skin materials that are going to be better to deal with water and noise: potential problems that might exist over time. So the difference between using a curtain wall versus a window wall is maybe a dollar issue, but we tend to try and help clients understand the basis for deciding on a skin irrespective of the efficiency of the floor plan is really related to a whole bunch of other issues. There's a whole bunch of glass curtain wall buildings." On Context and Urban Fabric “In some ways San Francisco is a little schizophrenic in that it absolutely loves its Victorians and historic fabric, but it also aspires to looking for a modern vocabulary.” Manus says facade expressions vary heavily with context. In traditional neighborhoods, an emphasis on compositional strategies involving bay windows and other vernacular elements are prioritized, while areas with less context tend to receive a more minimal and/or modern aesthetic. “Community groups in these neighborhoods want to be involved in a dialogue about what will be constructed. As an architect, this presents a challenge in terms of where your project fits and where it does not. There is also a planning department that does very detailed design review on projects, so as an architect you go through a discussion with them in addition to presenting to community groups about what might fit in. Our projects in these neighborhoods are not the same ones we would do in a new district where there is no context.” On Energy Codes Despite a temperate climate, heat gain from glazed facades still presents a significant design issue. Manus says energy conscious design has a lot to do with the facade, it's orientation to the sun, glazing, and other elements that will assist the building in getting to a higher level of efficiency. "The energy codes are really great at creating a better environment, but have made glass darker and darker which, in my mind, is not really conducive to creating a visible transparency for residential use. It's really unfortunate. If you want to see the life of the city, and what's going on behind the facade, you don't want a dark or mirrored glass." Manus' projects, while market rate, have significant inclusionary housing in them. Anywhere from 12, 15, or 18 percent, which he cites as an “unusual rate.” He concludes that the growth of San Francisco—or the “transformation of San Francisco,” as he calls it—is great, but very challenging because with success comes things that you sometimes don't anticipate. “I think getting out in front of developments and truly creating new housing takes a long time. Issues like high cost of construction basically take hold very early on in the process. The regulatory environment, compounded with the process of developing drawings, and the course of construction takes time—you could either be through another cycle, or you could have created other problems you didn't anticipate.” Manus takes the stage with Anne Fougeron of Fougeron Architecture and Cynthia Parker of BRIDGE Housing to discuss more aspects of facades and residential architecture. Go to Facades+ AM San Francisco to learn more about the event and the other sessions taking place.

Bohlin Cywinski Jackson transforms data center into open, flexible office for Square

Whether or not we’ve realized it, most of us have bought products through Square, a company that supplies small businesses with the now-ubiquitous square-shaped hardware and software that remotely processes credit card payments. Square’s new offices in San Francisco are meant to be as minimal, clear, and usable as its products.

Located in what was once a miserable, almost completely windowless Bank of America data center, the new 300,000-square-foot, fourth-floor office is just the opposite: an open, light-filled workspace organized by a central “boulevard,” lined with gathering spaces (including a library, gallery, and cafe), and a wide variety of working spaces, including bench-style work desks, tables, and semi-private, acoustically lined “work cabanas.”

To manage the space’s ridiculously big floor plates (100,000 square feet, four times the typical size), according to Bohlin Cywinski Jackson (BCJ) principal Gregory Mottola, the firm studied urban precedents as varied as Dubrovnik and Milan, looking at everything from urban plazas to enclosed arcades. Unifying the office floors is a massive amphitheater stair that cuts through floors six, seven, and eight, and provides zones for individual work, group meetings, and large presentations. The stair is fitted with movable, lightweight powder-coated tables that snake their way down its length to create unique working and relaxing environments. Another office anchor is the eighth and ninth floor “Square Stair,” a floating switchback connecting the office floor to the main dining level.

“You’re giving up rentable floor area, but the payoff is you have these incredible group amenities,” said Mottola. “The key was this idea of creating a really collaborative, transparent company. You don’t want to have one place feel disconnected from the rest.”

Clean lines and lots of white (on steel panels, stretch-fabric ceiling panels, and drywalls) reflect the brand’s identity and lightens the mood, while salvaged wood elements, like the eucalyptus amphitheater stair, Plyboo cabanas, and end-grain woodblock flooring in the lobby, provide warmth and visual interest. Splashes of color demarcate important spaces, provide needed accents, and reflect the locale: Bright orange, for instance, recalls the Golden Gate Bridge, while blue shades evoke the nearby San Francisco Bay. The company installed new windows along the perimeters of the sixth, seventh, and eighth floors, drawing in natural light where there once had been none. Another big aspect of the design within a limited budget was lighting. BCJ employed a variety of techniques, from spear-shaped “light saber” LEDs above the boulevard to indirect lighting in the workstations and sculptural accent pendants in the lounge spaces.

“We tried to make the most of those dramatic moments when we could,” said Mottola, who noted that Square was drawn to BCJ’s clean work for Apple’s stores, but not its purely monochrome palette. As the company grows at an exponential rate, the airy, collaborative, and flexible spaces will no doubt come in handy. “We want them to be able to grow and shift over time,” he added.

Millennium Tower in San Francisco has sunk 16 inches—and now the city is suing

The City of San Francisco is filing a lawsuit against the developer of the 58-story Millennium Tower, which has sunk 16 inches since completion, causing it to tilt, among other issues. San Francisco’s city attorney Dennis Herrera said that he was filing the lawsuit on the grounds that Mission Street Development failed to notify the buyers and the city that the building was sinking at this rate. Since the building was completed in 2008, Mission Street Development has made hundreds of millions of dollars in sales from the approximately 400 units in the building, according to The New York Times. Apartments in the tower cost millions to purchase and the current owners of these apartments are understandably furious. Questions have been raised about the building’s abilities to withstand an earthquake and what ramifications this could have on not only those who live within the building, but for the buildings surrounding it. Its foundation piles are 90-feet short (rather than the 225-foot piles that would have reached bedrock). The skyscraper currently under construction next to the Millennium Tower, for example, has a foundation that reaches down to bedrock. P.J. Johnston, a spokesperson for Mission Street Development, told The New York Times that the city’s construction on the nearby Transbay Terminal caused the unexpected sinking when it removed water from the ground. “The city attorney’s action today has nothing to do with protecting public safety, the building, or its residents,” Johnston said in The New York Times. “Instead, it’s an effort by the City of San Francisco to duck its responsibilities and avoid paying for the harm caused by Transbay Joint Powers Authority." There are estimates that the building to sink up to 31 inches, which could put extreme strain on the building, particularly since it is in a seismic zone. Herrera’s lawsuit alleges that the developer knew by 2008 that this would be the case—a year before it started selling units—and that they developer had a legal obligation to tell buyers about the sinking.

Black glazed tile clads a curved “mega-bay” in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley

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A new market-rate micro-housing project in San Francisco's Hayes Valley—developed in tandem with a new clubhouse for the Boys and Girls Club—features 70 studio and two-bedroom apartments clustered around a courtyard with ample, secure bicycle parking. The wood-framed housing structure sits atop a concrete podium housing retail spaces just off the main Hayes Street corridor. The new construction project continues development of vacated land caused by the collapse and removal of the Central Freeway. The project—designed by David Baker Architects, which has designed and built more than 10,000 dwelling units—achieves a density of 240 bedrooms per acre, and consists of 40-percent two-bedroom units located at each corner and facing the courtyard. This is the result of a policy by the city to allow new residential developments to accommodate families. The other apartments are classified as micro-units, ranging from 325 to 400-square-feet. These compact studio apartments embrace an "affordability by design" concept, which, according to David Baker Architects, has “proven popular with younger professionals, as well as seniors.” One of the most contentious issues of the project was a large corner bay clad in a custom glazed tile. The bay's massing spans the entire end of the building, out of scale when compared with a typical vernacular bay, however, the architects say this feature is rooted in careful planning and urbanistic principles. The positive and negative forms of 388 Fulton and the Richardson Apartments across the street—another project by David Baker Architects—make a frame for the City Hall dome two blocks away.
  • Facade Manufacturer Fireclay Tile (glazed thin brick veneer); James Hardie (fiber-cement siding); Golden State Steel (sun shade fabrication); Peerless Architectural Windows and Doors (aluminum windows)
  • Architects David Baker Architects
  • Facade Installer Fisher Development Inc. (General Contractor)
  • Facade Consultants KPFF Consulting Engineers (Structural Engineer)
  • Location San Francisco, CA
  • Date of Completion 2016
  • System wood frame over concrete podium
  • Products Glazed Thin Brick in Inkwell and custom colors by Fireclay Tile; ENERGSAVE by Peerless Architectural Windows and Doors (aluminum windows); HardiPanel & HardieTrim (fiber-cement siding)
The black coloration was produced from custom low fire glazed tile sourced from local clay. An artisan tile company glazed the brick with a palette of five subtle variations on a standard “Inkwell” black color. The architects specified a repeating pattern for the colors, which Baker said sometimes gets mistaken for being a uniform color. "The different tile colors added a richness to the composition, which one color would not have provided." The thin tile was set directly onto a mortar bed over a cement plastered wood-framed wall. Expansion joints coordinate with punched window openings for a clean composition. The stacked bond tile also integrates precisely with vents on the facade, which required careful coordination between the contractor and architect. The windows in the curved mega-bay have a custom extra-deep extrusion to accommodate the thickness of the glazed tiles. Computer analysis from programs like Autodesk Ecotect was used to optimize perforated aluminum sunshades on the curved facade and west-facing windows. Design criteria included the relative amount of solar radiation that would hit each window for different times of the day and year, including shade from the building, neighboring buildings, and sunshades. After several iterations, the design resulted in a combination louver-and-fin for windows along the curved bay, and a vertical fin of varying length along the west-facing facade. The shapes of these elements were standardized into three repeatable configurations for fabrication efficiency while minimizing solar radiation during the afternoons in late spring and early fall, particularly into studio units with challenging western exposure. Baker said the project team integrated a lot of fun detailing into the project: “The large curved bay is the signature of the building, and something we put a lot of energy into. We took fairly humble materials, and made them look crisp and sleek." A trademark example of this design approach is the “random batten system,” a phrase coined by the office for an aesthetically driven approach to installation of fiber-cement trim board. Baker called this "ranch house technology." The assembly calls for standard fiber cement board trim to be applied in a randomized pattern, transforming a ubiquitous board and batten system into what Baker said, "Looks like something that you would order from Italy."

This pavilion by Kuth Ranieri Architects is made of concrete formwork

' Kuth Ranieri Architects’ pavilion made out of cardboard Sonotubes (prefabricated tubular formwork for casting concrete), created for this year’s Market Street Prototyping Festival in San Francisco, has earned the firm a People’s Choice award. Designed and built alongside three dozen other installations, the pavilion—dubbed SonoGROTTO—is made out of a bundle of cardboard Sonotubes varying between 6, 10, and 24 inches in width that are bolted together and carved into a sheltered seating area. Overall, the pavilion’s proportions are equal to those of a cube, with circular sections carved out from the overall mass. Certain Sonotubes extend all the way to the ground and support the structure while others are sliced up along curving profiles, creating the benches, thresholds, and openings that animate the pavilion. The pavilion, designed to be located on an active street, creates what the designers dub as an urban “grotto,” containing areas sheltered by a vaulted ceiling punctured by an oculus that offers views to the sky. In a press release explaining the project, the architects state, “Porous enough to retain a strong connection with its surroundings, yet enclosed enough to provide a safe haven, SonoGROTTO allows people to explore and rest simultaneously. SonoGROTTO offers a space for reflection, refuge, and a myriad of alternate uses for all ages.” The festival was sponsored by the San Francisco Department of City Planning and Yerba Buena Center for the Art. It's also the by-product of extensive community outreach by the department aimed at uncovering new, innovative ideas for enhancing the quality of life along Market Street in downtown San Francisco. As such, the festival organizers sought to engage at the community level through a design-oriented street festival. The three-day festival brought thousands out onto the Market Street corridor along three areas spanning from the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts on one end to the Embarcadero on the other to display a myriad of pavilion ideas that spanned in concept from architectural follies and performance-oriented displays to even, a miniature forest.  For more information on the other pavilions, see the festival website.

BREAKING: MAD Architects reveals alternate proposals for Lucas Museum in San Francisco and Los Angeles

Weeks after dropping a long-stalled bid for a Chicago location, MAD Architects and the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art have released a collection of renderings for competing schemes aimed at finding the wandering, proposed museum a welcoming home in either Los Angeles or San Francisco. The firm’s proposal for the Chicago location was scrapped earlier this summer after fierce community opposition to the project, to be located on a coveted site along the city’s waterfront in Grant Park. Despite strong support from the city's political class, the $700-million scheme, reminiscent of a futuristic, pitched tent, was ultimately killed by a lawsuit filed by the local community group known as Friends of The Park. The new proposals, being shopped simultaneously between California’s two largest cities, are being presented as pedestrian-friendly, public spaces for each respective city. Both are arranged with expansive second-floor gallery and exhibition spaces that are lifted up on massive piers that allow for park and pedestrian areas to stretch underneath each complex. Each would be 265,000 and 275,000 square feet of overall interior space, with roughly 100,000 square feet of that dedicated toward gallery functions. The Los Angeles Times states that the overall project cost, including a future endowment for the museum, could potentially top $1 billion.  The San Francisco proposal for is being pitched for the city’s Treasure Island and is being incorporated into the SOM-designed master plan for the island community’s waterfront. The building’s rigid-looking exterior skin, punctured by two expanses of glass swoops, culminates in what—based on renderings released by the firm—appears to be a large auditorium space. Aside from the wavy building, these renderings also depict the building’s surrounding ground floor areas as being hardscaped plaza with pedestrian connections to the surrounding waterfront areas. The Los Angeles proposal, on the other hand, would be located in the city’s University of Southern California-adjacent Exposition Park. Located along the city’s Expo Line light rail line and within proximity of the forthcoming Gensler-designed Los Angeles Football Club soccer stadium, the proposal would cap the slew of other cultural and entertainment destinations in the park. Despite the light rail proximity, the scheme includes a 1,800-spot underground parking garage that the San Francisco locale does not. Also unlike the San Francisco proposal, the Los Angeles scheme would include public open space on its rooftop. Renderings for the proposal show the museum located in a leafy, park setting with people lounging on the knolls surrounding the structure. For now, as always, the schemes continue to be just that: hopeful proposals. Time will tell if one or the other scheme gets selected for either city and, more importantly, if one eventually gets built. A decision regarding the location is expected to be made within the next two- to four-months.

David Adjaye to master plan expansive San Francisco waterfront development

Just recently it was announced that David Adjaye, founder of London and New York-based Adjaye Associates, will helm The San Francisco Shipyard development. According to The Registry, he will be the project's "master plan architect and creative director." This comes on the heels of the National Museum of African History and Culture's opening; that project saw Adjaye as the lead designer working alongside the Freelon Group (now Perkins+Will), Davis Brody Bond, and SmithGroupJJR. The area in question is located southeast of downtown San Francisco in the Hunters Point area. The website of FivePoint, who's developing the project, says The Shipyard "includes approximately 800 acres of bayfront property." The website adds that the site will "include approximately 12,000 homesites and roughly 4.1 million square feet of commercial space, making it one of the largest developments of its kind in the history of San Francisco." A sweeping map on the project's website shows a mix of open spaces—over 350 acres—and low-to-medium rise development with a few towers interspersed. The project's shopping and entertainment component will include "1 million square feet of urban retail" and "gourmet restaurant village" while the arts and innovation neighborhood will feature a "5 million-square-foot waterfront R&D center" and "working studios and exhibition spaces for 300 artists." "Sustainable living" is also a key selling point, with native plant landscaping, the restoration of native habitats, and land trails for bikers and runners and water trails for kayakers and canoers. According to The Registry, this is the second phase of the project, with Adjaye's plan building upon the work of New York City-based IBI Architects.

Tech behemoth Microsoft selected young San Francisco firm Blitz to design its flagship office

“You could say we were the underdogs,” Blitz principal and CEO Melissa Hanley said about being selected to design Microsoft’s flagship office in one of San Francisco’s most notable buildings, 555 California Street. “Microsoft challenged a lot of things with this project, from hiring a tiny little baby firm like us to selecting a transparent site in San Francisco.”

Aside from facing the obstacles of being a small architecture firm tapped to create an office for one of the largest technology companies in the world, Blitz had to work within the restraints of 555 California Street (formerly the Bank of America Center). Art Gensler was brought on to design the tower’s indoor space when the building opened in 1969, and he’s credited by some as the inventor of commercial interior architecture. “There was a great deal of responsibility to not mess it up,” Hanley said.

Hanley and her team treated working within the iconic building’s structure and Microsoft’s “global design guidelines” (hundreds of parameters for everything from the conference rooms to staff algorithms) as a huge, complex puzzle. To take the stakes one notch higher, the office was downsizing from a 90,000-square-foot space to a 43,500-square-foot space, and employees were understandably concerned.

In an attempt to solve all of these challenges with one elegant solution, “We really focused on the idea of neighborhood design,” Hanley said. “We broke up a sea of desks into groups of 18 to 30 users, and every ‘neighborhood’ has familiar touch points such as lockers for flex employees, water, trash, etc.” Each neighborhood is a different bright color, which offers easy wayfinding and furthers employees’ sense of home. The layout offers equal access to front-row views of the cityscape from the 265 windows on the site.

The office also showcases Microsoft’s latest technology to customers. Upon entering the lobby, visitors walk up a 30-foot-tall staircase to a landing featuring an interactive, virtual moss wall. “It is technical, fun, and childlike,” Hanley said. “It’s a place where people can pause and think about their journey into the space.” Blitz echoed the moss wall with real living walls throughout the space, a slightly surreal move that blurs the borders between reality and technology. The firm extended the outdoor, organic aesthetic with textural flooring and canopies wrapped in a bleached-cork covering that resembles birch.

Although the project was a game changer for Blitz, which now has three ongoing projects with Microsoft in addition to work for Comcast and Yahoo, it was also pivotal for Microsoft. “Before this office, Microsoft was located in the outskirts of the city; it was almost like a castle in the sky,” Hanley said. “Now it is downtown, it is transparent, it engages with the city, and all the stuff that goes on outside its windows influences it day-to-day.”

Endemic Architecture plays with San Francisco’s vernacular architecture

Mind Your Mannerisms, a research-based exhibition by Oakland, California’s Endemic Architecture was on view at Jai & Jai Gallery in L.A.’s Chinatown. Clark Thenhaus, principal at Endemic Architecture, described the underlying thesis of the exhibition as one of working through a ubiquitous architectural feature of his newly adopted city, where turrets are part of the accepted vernacular, inscribed within the city’s zoning code, and sometimes clash with more prosaic urban issues like lack of affordable housing and a need for increased density. The exhibition includes line drawings showcasing existing variants of the corner turret, as well as new hypothetical configurations created by the designers as they process and attempt to understand the underlying tendencies of the eccentric and ornamented Victorian forms. These hypothetical configurations are recreated in approximately half-scale mock ups, some of which use full-scale building components salvaged from existing turrets.