Response to John King’s “Plans for rising Mid-Market threaten to create aesthetic tangle” Monday, November 10, 2014 at: http://www.sfgate.com/bayarea/article/Plans-for-rising-Mid-Market-threaten-to-create-5882195.php
I think the contrasts, eclectic styles, show the spirit of San Francisco.
San Francisco is not a particular style of architecture, if anything, it is where International architecture has a home, by example, and similar to the SFMOMA’s exemplification of various styles of modern art.
San Francisco is about modern and perhaps post modern art. While the touristy stuff shows Victorians, painted ladies, and so forth, what I see when I think of San Francisco is the contrast between the Transamerica Building and the Columbus Tower (Sentinel Building), Coit Tower, Hobart Building, 101 California Street, and 100 First Plaza, for example.
Also, San Francisco is the view of the city from a distance, the Golden Gate and Bay Bridge. There are China Towns, Russian Hill, Lombard Street, Union Square. It is a mini, less intense New York City. Of course that is changing. I heard recently that there are no poor people in San Francisco, which makes me think who cares what crap they are building there? I really have no reason to go there. I used to hang out in bookstores and cafes, visit museums, and walk around, eventually eating dinner, but now it is hard to find a bathroom and SFMOMA is closed for the time being.
The point I want to make is that Mr. King, you have proposed the same argument the dissenters gave when I.M. Pei proposed the Pyramid at the Louvre: “The construction of the pyramid triggered a considerable amount of controversy because many people felt that the futuristic edifice looked quite out of place in front of the Louvre Museum with its classical architecture.”
I am only seeing beauty in the examples you gave. Image 1 is elegant. The proposed Arquitectonica’s residential tower makes the structure before it outdated. When I think of San Francisco, I think of the sublimity of Madmen. While I don’t like the colors of the proposed structure at 1028 Market, (Image 3), it is no less drab than what is currently along Market. The 1125 Market proposal (Image 4) is delicious too, but very much like the architecture along Market, so I don’t understand the complaint. I think the color white is instrumental in what is needed here. There is a purity that is lacking on Market. It is currently dirty. It also seems to have become neglected. The poor are being kicked out. The drug dealers are taking over. Democracy is being replaced with monetary decisions and perhaps you are revealing the real complaint, which is that the designs, while cutting edge, are without substance to the real issues at hand.
The 1075 Market Street proposal seems like the other structures there. The glass structure proposed for 1028 Market is much more attractive even though it is gray than the pink and beige structure that is next to it. Perhaps this is another important point. We are witnessing change and how it occurs. With slight alterations of color and materials something new comes up out of the cement walkway. It isn’t really any different, just new, sharper, more edgy, almost invisible when you consider that it is reflective, transparent but with a monied origin. That’s all it is, another attempt to move toward the sky. This example trumps the argument for not wanting it. It is austere, robotic, truly reflective of the personality of the present, a dead series of square shapes, only slightly juxtaposed.
The proposed 950 Market complex is again softer than those buildings around it. It feels like it is moving more toward humanity. I am not seeing a threat to aesthetics, but rather a sensitivity to it.
When you say: “This 50-year-old card depicts the then lively section of Market Street that is today known as seedy mid-Market. To see it so alive and so colorful, full of flashing neon, makes one pine for the days when movie palaces really were like this and seeing a movie in one of them was an event,” I think to myself that you are looking back in time, a time when neon was the LED of choice. Apparently it isn’t efficient. Maybe San Francisco, architecturally speaking, is about change. You question the “art bar” and “movable metal curtain,” but then I see more softness, a lovely gold dress along the avenue.
The nine-story hotel designed by Stanton Architecture for 1055 Market Street is Madman sublime.
The fact that 1127 Market St. will reopen next year as a venue for the American Conservatory Theater is grand. Knowing that such performance spaces can make it is wonderful, but I also understand that underneath this reawakening is merely a front for the 1 percent and their starved or indulgent need for art. The arts have become a parasite, one of Maslow’s many needs for the few who can afford to satisfy them.
I do agree with you that, “1019 Market St. by George A. Applegarth is better than its squalid mid-Market surroundings deserve” and it should be restored to fit in with the differentiation proposed. The city needs to get back to its sense that it can house and support every type of person. It becomes increasingly like a city for the rich and thus its architecture is beautiful canvases enjoyed from the outside but with soulless intentions.
Sorry to say, but “973 Market, a seven-story loft structure from 1908…stands out not for any structural gyrations — no tilting prows or zippered silhouettes — but for the intricate and freshly cleaned tile work that covers the facade, a cloak of ornamentation at once flamboyant and prim” is a tired look.