“Carlo Scarpa, Berkeley, California, 1969,” photo courtesy of the University of California Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.
When one turns the page of an architecture magazine and the work of Carlo Scarpa appears unexpectedly, a quiet inner thrill is felt. Since his passing in 1978, we seem increasingly moved by Scarpa’s caress of material, his strange but faultless sense of placement and proportion, the contemplative nature of his details. These appreciations are heightened by the knowledge that his output was relatively limited. > Read More
Mill Valley House by Koji Tsutsui with the author, Paul Jamtgaard, and Laura-Katharina Gross Serman in the foreground. Photo by Iwan Baan.
My introduction to Iwan Baan came from a friend, the architect Koji Tsutsui. Based in San Francisco, he’s not yet on the A-list of Pritzker Prize winners and other luminaries with which Baan is usually associated. So sought after that he turns down 90 percent of the inquiries he receives, Baan tracked Tsutsui down after seeing a competition-winning AIDS health clinic he designed in Africa, one of several he’d photographed. What else have you got, he asked? > Read More
Salesforce leased space at 50 Fremont before abandoning plans for a new campus at Mission Bay.
Earlier this year, Salesforce’s seemingly sudden decision to abandon plans for a new 2-million-square-foot campus at Mission Bay raised immediate concerns about San Francisco’s already tightening office market—and some murmurs of relief. > Read More
Local artisans sell their wares near downtown Oakland. Photo: Leah Marthinsen.
Think local, buy local—we are currently experiencing a surge in assertions of independence from the global supply chain. > Read More
Union Iron Works, photo by William Porter, 2004.
The Eastern Neighborhoods Plan, adopted in late December 2008, states that “San Francisco is a special place because of the way in which it has always balanced preservation with change.” It is true that despite generations of natural and manmade disasters, demographic shifts, and radical economic realignment, San Francisco has managed to hold on to its essence as a place that “doesn’t look or feel like anywhere else.” > Read More
My friend Amanda Armstrong can’t come on campus anymore, unless she’s there to study or teach. Unless she’s there, in the words of the Alameda County DA who charged her four months after their police beat her as she linked arms with her fellow protestors to protect an encampment put up on November 9th of last year, on “lawful business.” > Read More
Ant Farm, 50’ x 50’ Pillow, 1970, temporary installation in Freestone, California. Photo: Chip Lord. Courtesy Berkeley Art Museum and Pacific Film Archive.
San Francisco is often compared unfavorably to other major cities in terms of its tolerance for architectural experimentation. One area where this experimentation has thrived, however, is that of installations, which by dint of their short duration and theoretical orientation, have been a potent force for examining the limitations and potentials of architecture and its social ramifications.
> Read More
Gerhard Richter. Atlas. Tafel 5. Albumfotos 1962-1968. ©Gerhard Richter 2011.
The creative process is an intriguing design problem of its own: how should you craft the method used to craft other things? This is the second in a series of essays exploring this topic through the lens of strange atlas, an interpretive creative process. Although this approach applies beyond narrow disciplinary boundaries, the essays focus on its application for designing the built environment.
> Read More
Costantino Nivola at his farmhouse, Dicomano, Italy, 1981. Photo courtesy of Richard Ingersoll.
Memories of the sculptor and painter Constantino Nivola, a friend of Corbu, a neighbor of Jackson Pollock, and in the 1970s a lecturer at Berkeley CED.
> Read More
Randel Farm Map no. 55, vol. 1, p. 16, showing 101st to 109th Streets, from Third Avenue to the East River, July 21, 1820. Used with permission of the City of New York and the Office of the Manhattan Borough President.
The 1811 plan mandating an orthogonal street grid helped make Manhattan a paragon of urban form. Today we take rectilinear New York for granted, and love its vitality. An exhibition reveals both prescience and problems in the grid’s rich history.
> Read More
Minoru Takeyama: Number 1 Building, Tokyo. Photo courtesy of the architect.
Postmodernism is enjoying a modest revival, with a retrospective exhibit at the V&A, a conference in New York, and several new books that reassess its past and present claims. Postmodernism emerged here in the late 1970s as serious competition for the corporate modernism and bay regionalism predominant earlier in that decade, but my personal encounters with postmodernists began slightly earlier. This short essay recounts them.
> Read More
View from Yerba Buena Gardens. Image courtesy Snøhetta.
Compared to the existing San Francisco Museum of Modern Art building, the new addition designed by Craig Dykers of Snøhetta looks, well, very new. This is not stating the obvious; it seems as if the museum itself is about to change into something completely different. > Read More
Photo by Mallory Scott Cusenbery
“That thing the nature of which is totally unknown to you is usually what you need to find, and finding it is a matter of getting lost.” — Rebecca Solnit  > Read More
Aerial photo of Ronchamp today. Photographer: Iwan Baan (Bauwelt)
When Renzo Piano was commissioned to make some additions and adjustments to Le Corbusier’s iconic Notre Dame du Haut at Ronchamp, it caused an uproar. Now that the scaffolds have been removed, Richard Ingersoll wonders what the controversy was about.
> Read More
1020 Pine, Kennerly Architecture; Photo Tim Griffith
Kennerly Architecture’s 1020 Pine, San Francisco, received a Merit Award for Architecture from the AIA California Council this fall. Justly so: it’s a handsome project. > Read More