New Mission Theater

November 19th, 2016

It is as perilous to design a prominent building in the giddiness of a tech-fueled economy as it is to go grocery shopping when you’re hungry. You may find yourself with buyers remorse the morning after. This could easily be the case with the New Mission Theater condos – a carnival’s fun house aesthetic on both […]

Multi-Culti Gestures

March 13th, 2016

Norwegian high-pitched roofs, Dutch gables, Russian Orthodox domes, Spanish colonial facades — scores of newcomers have visited upon San Francisco’s skyline the architecture of their homelands. These were built by immigrants, for immigrants, and evinced authentic culture. In contrast, it is downright disingenuous when an institution dons an ethnic pastiche of whatever culture happens to […]

Cultural Expression

January 16th, 2016

Most architects just throw out something in hacienda style when they want to reflect the local culture here in the Mission…

Decon Bling, Modern Poise

December 6th, 2015

I like deconstructivist architecture. I like it the same way, I think, that I’d like a night out on the town with Lady Gaga. But at the end of the evening, I’d rather return to a home like an Audrey Hepburn in that simple black dress. Home is, more than anything else, our place of […]

Cheap Bling

November 22nd, 2015

All the gold on this façade was done with one and a half packages of leaf, or about $22. Amazingly thin stuff at around 7-millionths of an inch—the same as gold plate—it’s thin enough sunlight can pass through.

Order Behind Disorderliness

November 14th, 2015

“All discord [is] harmony not understood,” noted Alexander Pope. Discovering harmony in architecture, in what at first looks like discord, lends a wonderful richness and intrigue. Take this house on Vallejo Street. Study the ostensible jumble of unaligned windows and they’ll slowly reveal the internal layout of rooms and stair behind the façade. A similar work without the underlying […]

Bus Stop & Toilet Zealots

August 25th, 2015

  There’s a difficulty in designing one thing for multiple locations, such as a bus shelter or a public toilet. You can’t design for context since the surrounding of each installation is unique. Whatever the design, it can only display the unity of its own system. Too often, this frees a designer to promulgate his particular style at the expense of […]

Overproportion

March 22nd, 2013

The very normal-sized side door to this apartment house on Church is given proper entry status by an enormously over-proportioned broken pediment.  Most delightful is how the thing weighs so heavily on the doorway it actually crops off the top of the door within. The architect might have squeezed a normal pediment at the conventional […]

Why White?

January 14th, 2013

What color are my white walls? It depends on the time of day. With white, the early morning light glows orange, cool evening light is a quiet blue, only grey winter skies suffuse the room with pure white. A warm color lit by cool northern light would look muddy and insubstantial; the same with a […]

Book as Coffee Table

December 31st, 2012

Nothing quite drives the last nail into the coffin of an architectural movement like a tombstone-sized retrospective.  Did Corbu even design a coffee table capable of supporting this 21-pound volume?

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