Cities and Spacesuits: An Interview with Nicholas de Monchaux

Under-utilized parcels of city-owned land in San Francisco, re-imagined by Nicholas de Monchaux as part of his Local Code / Real Estates project, 2009. Image: Courtesy Nicholas de Monchaux

Nicholas de Monchaux
is an architect, urbanist, writer and Assistant Professor of Architecture and Urban Design at UC Berkeley. His recent book, Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo, unearths the truly fascinating story behind the design of the Apollo spacesuit, which has surprising relevance to architectural and planning discourse, particularly in the Bay Area. > Read More


Strange Atlas 01: Get Lost

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 [1] > Read More


Renzo Against Corbu

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


Richard Serra: A Retrospective

Picture 1: Richard Serra, Abstract Slavery, 1974; paintstick on Belgian linen; 114 x 212 inches; collection of Kröller-Müller Museum, Otterlo, The Netherlands; © 2011 Richard Serra / Artist Rights Society (ARS), New York; photo: Robert Mates and Paul Katz


Richard Serra is the quintessential modern artist. The exhibition Richard Serra Drawing: A Retrospective at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art makes obvious that he’s immune to convention, a follower of no movement, and firm against authority—occasionally even his own. > Read More


Random Selection, or Intelligent Design?

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


Working in San Francisco & Hawaii: An Interview with Craig Steely

Lavaflow 2. Photo: JD Peterson


Earlier this year I went to the big island of Hawaii to see the lava landscape and the houses that San Francisco and Hawaii based architect, Craig Steely has put down on them. > Read More


Contributor Profile: Craig Steely


Craig Steely is a San Francisco- and Hawaii-based architect. He received his architecture degree from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo. While there, he was awarded a scholarship for international study and spent his thesis year in Florence, Italy studying with Cristiano Toraldo di Francia formerly of SUPERSTUDIO.  > Read More


Contributor Profile: Paolo Polledri


Paolo Polledri is a writer and designer. He worked at the Getty Center and was the founding Curator of Architecture and Design at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art. > Read More


Contributor Profile: Mallory Cusenbery


Mallory Scott Cusenbery, AIA, is the design principal at RossDrulisCusenbery Architecture, Inc., a mid-sized firm specializing in justice, public safety and community projects. > Read More


Contributor Profile: Erin Hyman


Erin Hyman is an independent writer and editor, who has contributed to a forthcoming book surveying architecture installations worldwide over the past forty years. > Read More

Contributor Profile: Kenneth Caldwell


Kenneth Caldwell is a Bay Area based writer and communications consultant. He can be reached at  His blog can be found at


Contributor Profile: Nicholas de Monchaux


Nicholas de Monchaux is an architect who works at the intersections of urban ecology and infrastructure. He is the author of Spacesuit: Fashioning Apollo (MIT Press, 2011), an Architectural history of the Apollo 11 Extra-vehicular garment.

> Read More


Contributor Profile: Richard Ingersoll


Richard Ingersoll, born in California, 1949, earned a doctorate in architectural history at UC Berkeley, taught at Rice University from 1986-97 and currently teaches at Syracuse University in Florence (Italy). > Read More


Contributor Profile: Tim Culvahouse


Tim Culvahouse, FAIA, is an architect who helps fellow architects expand, refine, or otherwise enrich what they’re doing. > Read More

Contributor Profile: Yuki Bowman


Yuki is an independent writer, designer, and editor who is inspired by Sanford Kwinter, Chris Marker, and Japanese and Brazilian architecture. She appreciates the Bay Area for its food-supporting dirt, its fascinating mid-century techno-hippy history, and its rare gems of concrete brutalism.


Contributor Profile: Brad Leibin


Brad Leibin is an architectural designer and writer in San Francisco. > Read More


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TraceSF invites contributions from writers, photographers, artists, and other observers of Bay Area design, culture, and urbanism. The format and content of contributions are open, but the length should be appropriate for a blog journal (roughly 400 to 1,200 words for text). If longer is better, please write a short introduction to your piece. Fiction is acceptable if labeled as such.


TraceSF doesn’t have a house style, as we value the many voices that comprise our community. Our readership includes professionals in the design fields and others with a critical interest in the city and region. Please keep this in mind when authoring your post.


Polemics and criticism are encouraged, but please avoid libel and slander. Articles and comments will be posted at the sole discretion of the editors.


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Please send a one to two paragraph contribution proposal to We are a cooperative venture, so our response time may vary, but we will do our best. If timeliness is crucial, please indicate this in the subject line. Upon approval, we will send you detailed formatting and submission guidelines.


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The viewpoints of our contributors do not reflect the views of TraceSF or its editorial team. TraceSF is not responsible for ensuring the accuracy of its contributions, including (but not limited to) citations and references, fact checking, and image permissions, all of which are the sole responsibility of the author.




TraceSF is an online journal that critically explores San Francisco Bay Area design, culture, and urbanism. Featuring contributions in different media from a diverse group of designers, artists, photographers, and thinkers, TraceSF pursues topics that often fly beneath the radar. It does so as an independent forum, organized for its contributors out of a shared desire for greater urbanity in San Francisco and the region.


Yosh Asato, Yukiko Bowman, Brad Leibin, and John Parman are the founding editors of TraceSF. Kenneth Caldwell, Mallory Cusenbery, and Jeremy Mende have helped us. Web developer Jonathan Butterick tailored WordPress’s Tanzaku template for our needs.








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