Skip to main content

tv   [untitled]    August 30, 2012 5:07am-5:37am PDT

5:07 am
how can civic leaders balance the measure between architecture and the historic character of neighborhoods? i know that she has said thank you but i want to repeat this. i want to thank margie for assigning me this problem, and i want to thank john for saying that we should look into so much, and the areas between second and sixth, and my thanks to tim fry, david winslow, and i also want to thank you very much for putting this into what i know is a busy agenda for the evening. thank you very much. my husband was also planning commissioner in our home town. he comes home upset with the architects did in front of the
5:08 am
podium and spend all evening lecturing him. if you feel that there is a question along the way that you would like to interrupt, let's make this into a discussion. the aia expected me to talk about how tad on to historic buildings. maybe i would talk more about finding building features, or how we locate buildings and facades. i would like to share how i look at some of. the ways of architecture supports the urban traditions, the ongoing special practices, and future development. i am losing my text. i began with cities as an urban setting. each time we build we contribute, and for me, this is
5:09 am
about the daily life as experienced by the residence, the workers and visitors. i think about this in three ways. the first is that this is an urban identity. what is the unique character of selma? how was this remembered as distinct from other districts? other cities that we know, like charleston, this is fun to do. going back to my slides of my favorite cities. amsterdam, berlin, how was this different than other districts in san francisco? second, i think about this -- how easy is the city to be used, to be navigated? we look at new york city, and the blocks are very narrow and
5:10 am
long, and if you stand in the intersection, you can immediately tell if you are moving to the north or south, or east and west in the city. how does -- how do the plan marks and districts, the orientation -- when you move through, you are moving on top of the rich with the topography, and you also look to the towers of the next plaza, so you find your way through the city. these qualities are built with urban fabrics. for me, urban fabrics talk about how individual parts fit together. this is not just continuity of public spaces, but the interweaving of public and private, together. seeing these cities as fabrics -- allows them to design this within a project but within the district and within the city.
5:11 am
in my research, the landscapes that flourished and endure are rich in urban fabrics. revealing the choices of residents and visitors alike. the settings are admired for the multitude of ways that they support being in place in the city in the neighborhood, and in the room. in viewing of the long, tradition of the city building, these have been the norm. it is not until the middle of the 20th-century that development and design move from building fabrics to building objects. after world war two, middle- class americans were encouraged to move into the suburbs. with miles of highways and subsidies for family homes.
5:12 am
city centers were depopulated and buildings were abandoned. federal funding supported raising city land, either to build new infrastructures, or for urban renewal. it was at this time that there was a cultural paradigm shift in the rebuilding of the cities. everything was a clear sight, without historical or cultural or formal connection to the larger context, which is the city. as a result, the emphasis for building uniqueness moved from the urban fabric to the individual building. distinctiveness was and still is achieved by intentionally separating and disengaging the project from its context. buildings were associated with corporations or architectural
5:13 am
source of form, not the place. i can talk about los angeles. when the objects are more important than the relation, the objects are more important than the relations between the project. vehicles seem to dominate the public spacing. urbanism is fragmented. today, we have a culture that rewards the extraordinary, ordinary, rather than making the ordinary, extraordinary. there is no there there, and this is part of the effect of fragmenting. they homogenize the difference between those in the city, we could extend gertrude stein and say that this is not anywhere. my first book was about the american suburbs.
5:14 am
the book i am finishing now has about chinese urbanism. in china the fragmenting phenomenon most rampant right now. when i am there, this is san francisco that i use as an example of planners and architects working to sustain urbanism. i feel like today there is the easy job of preaching to the choir. the question is, how do we make individual actions in the city at up? preservation is not enough. there is no such thing as a building that does not contribute when it comes to the urban identity. how can this change to be more identifiable, more legible, and a distinct urban fabric. some may be perilously close to having no "there" there.
5:15 am
this area of soma may just be a district people drive through on the way to the highway. there is the eclectic collection of buildings and there is no area of building types of similar building material, there are not even that many buildings that are historical landmarks. one of the keys to a growing economic life needs to be retooled and revitalized as a vibrant district in the city. to do this i would like to talk about the urban potential. i think that there is the urban heritage that is already embedded in the city structure. now this is really -- we all know this. with the plans of san francisco, we have the original planning for the south of
5:16 am
market. this is similar to the north of market with the six squares aggregated together. the differences are that the block dimensions are much larger in summer than in the market. -- soma than in the market. a structure of lands has emerged. there we go. these are often closed at the end, giving them the unique urban structure with both through streets and the non- through lanes. these are opportunities to identify the intensity -- and this is not a slide. this is leading particularly well. you won't see this off of the marker. they have areas highlighted to show where all lanes are. what i would like to do is use a
5:17 am
few other things to show the potential -- first as in boston. they have these narrow parks on the cross lines, and gateways and transition zones into the lane, built from the urban landscaping, with horizontal continuity between the two buildings and the intersection that you can see, one street leading to the building beyond. you feel that you are inside of the block. this is south amsterdam, where the lanes are also in the intersections and you can see the use building setbacks of the block and there, there is a gateway at either end for the building. soma as the land structure as well. you can see this in south park in the residential enclave, and
5:18 am
there are few amazing gateways, and i am helping on the screen you can see all the yellow dots that i have highlighted there, these are opportunities to build a stronger identity, but you can see -- what the corners look like as you move. particularly up sixth street. another way to change soma is to extend the urban fabric. part of it comes from this fine- grained fabric. there are many small lots that give density and character to the street. we have always have the large and small lots and combinations, current development requires
5:19 am
increasingly large lots to provide parking, and implement the sustainable strategies, where this is achieved at larger sizes. you can see the loss at 20,000 square feet that seymour reliable -- seem more reliable. larger developments take up larger segments of the block because the block is more narrow. the question that you may consider is how the size contributes or diminishes to the fine grain urban fabric? this is an interesting case study, the better known view of the project from folsom streets. but this is what i would like to talk about. let's compare the two design approaches to the center of the
5:20 am
block. 150 feet. the one on the left, this goes into the center, and the unit moves in from one end and it goes into the unit from there. the plan on the right is a schematic, it puts parking in the middle, and they enter from the street. both of them are good schemes out of context. when you set these schemes and to sum up, -- soma, it takes away from the vitality of the lanes and diminishes the identity. even with the residential units, this has to be enriched with how people moved through the place. the residents move in, leaving a blank wall that you can see with
5:21 am
the slide examples. in the middle, is the blank wall to the right. with the parking in the center, the residence look and move outward, adding life to the lanes. the third strategy for retooling, looking at the first streets, the named and the numbered streets. with the large block dimensions that we have, you cannot use the street intervals, like in new york city. this is where the architecture can make a difference. i will return back to boston as an example. the longstreet's are highlighted on your screens as the yellow streaks moving parallel to the river, and even though each street has a different section, they all share the pattern of injury, and bay windows.
5:22 am
it sounds a little bit like san francisco. the cross streets, they move from the river, and to the river, and the buildings engage the streets differently. along this street they are very few inches along the edge and if there is an entry, this is recessed. so when you are in there, you always know if you are moving parallel or perpendicular to the river. because this is so clear, the newer and the older buildings maintain this orientation. i think they have opportunities to increase their legibility. the main streets are associated with moving to and from the water, the number streets are associated with moving up and down the peninsula.
5:23 am
how can this be made more legible. one opportunity is to look at the use of corners. these are sights that are vacant or have small buildings in the middle of a lot that is open. and so the corners are not directional. as soma changes, building heights and block corners, are all opportunities to clarify the legibility. there has been a conflict between those who want to keep things as they were, and those who want everything to be new. if we accept this polarity, the debate for growth and change, then the debate for growth and the inevitable change in cities is an intractable problem.
5:24 am
but if we return to the original question, i would like to strike at two words. i find that tradition and heritage, in the urban structure. i see the architectural history as a continuum, with every building an expression of its culture. history is being made. this is part of a continuum, and so this is part of a change to advantage. i will be not answering a question, but answering the question with questions. this will balance the difference between architecture and the character of the neighborhood. rather than asking how the project looks, which ask how
5:25 am
this performance. how this contributes to urban identity and legibility. how does this add up to being more than two, and contribute to the street, the neighborhood, and the city. i suggested a very quick and lovely, fun way, to evaluate projects that are not on the individual basis but also based on the context. last, how this change serve as the opportunity to build an urban heritage. one that is rooted in the past and stable with the future? thank you. i would be delighted to ask for any questions, or to open this up to discussion in either direction. >> commissioners?
5:26 am
>> first, we will take public comments. and other in the members of the public who wish to comment on the presentation? seeing ninone, antonini? commissioner antonini: we have form following function, and until this century, with the advent of air conditioning and things that allow us not have to build into the architecture, parts tahhat insulate from the weather. a classic example are the steep roofs, where buildings have the
5:27 am
snow -- you want it to fall off. in soma, we see the form following function of the automotive buildings. a lot o fthem in that area. a number of other things with some kind of clues to what they were used for. now, we have the way to build anything how we want it to be. soma is a difficult spot. there is not a pattern here. there is no pattern and it blocks to -- varies from block to block. but to find contextual clues, and build off of those. working on corners. you pointed out south park and the enclaves as places with the
5:28 am
urban fabric. it is a fabric welcoming as opposed to the broad streets with a lot of disadvantages. if there is any way to add a denser form in areas, to add trees and more pedestrian enhancements, i think all those things may tend to have soma fit in with the rest of the city and still be functional. there is still going to be auto traffic with the freeways and the bridge. that won't go away. perhaps, we can change the pattern or at least in the busier streets. trees would be nice, to cut the
5:29 am
wind a bit. thsose are just thoughts about what i would look to as we make improvements to make soma more pleasant. >> commissioner martinez? commissioner martinez: a number of things i had questions about. for me, what i am puzzled about, is what is the definition of this problem. you see that there is a problem, but can you define this? what is the problem has city planning sees this? there are already expectations and rezoning that has been done to continue the process, so what do you really see as the problem? i do not say that belligerently.
5:30 am
if you define the problem that can change what the conversation is about. >> first of all the neighborhood is experiencing great, a dramatic change, and we have identified a couple of significant historic districts, and conversely there is the pressure for growth. thirdly, i think because the character is very different from any other part of the city, except for the residential enclaves, the character is quite diverse in terms of architecture. the size of buildings and the shape of buildings, and the question that is really presented assumes that this area will accommodate growth, how will this work in the neighborhood as it deals with
5:31 am
and maintains the quality as part of san francisco and adding to the neighborhood character? intractable maybe the incorrect word but this is a somewhat unique problem and that this is not typical, how you add to the historic fabric of a neighborhood with consistent quality, but how you can add to this with a fairly substantial way, more than you would in a normal neighborhood where i, in addition to this it would not be as substantial as it may be here, as you maintain the character? frankly, from a personal standpoint, we want to figure out if you can have the contemporary architecture in a way that works in neighborhoods like this, with a fairly substantial fabric that is quite diverse. >> this is talking about form, which is not something we talked
5:32 am
about in the conversation. >> if i could interpret some of her comments, part of what she says is that this may not be about the character of the individual buildings, but where they are with corners and creating gateways. we should be looking differently in the locations in a different way. >> i took this as an opportunity to read this book, and her main argument in favor of historic buildings is economic. those are the places, such as wall street, without the older buildings you don't have lunch places. you have the residential enclaves, which is a starting place with a mixed use district, with having the kind of variety that jacobs talks about.
5:33 am
it seems to me, having been in the city -- it seems they go through a lot of changes. they have a lot of artists and theater people because the rent was low, and without parts of the city with low rent, you don't have the entrepreneurial business. you don't have people -- the kinds of people that you have in the city. you see that in dog patch now, with all of the small differences. starting a business -- this is kind of like -- it seems to me that cities have to have bad neighborhoods. >> i think this is a good point. what it reminds me of, part of
5:34 am
the issue for me has been to think about this situation and the most extreme example would be to say that we will not teardown a single building. nothing will be demolished. but we have. knowledge that we substantially add to the density of the neighborhood. you do that by maintaining the fabric and assuming you can keep the majority of the fabric. >> around the city, there is what is expensive and what is an expensive. the whole thing is to set up the situation for slow change and not a drastic change. this is what creates the variety, because let's face it. we don't build neighborhoods. you can build a social -- there
5:35 am
are networks of relationships. people develop that over time, by living there. so these things have to happen over decades. it is curious to me that so much has happened on valencia's street and 16, that for decades, people have wanted to happen on market street. after all the programs and the attempts at revitalizing market street, this said -- this happened -- because the rent is low. there may be other qualities with smaller block sizes. it seems to me that south of market, there are a lot of empty lots that can create the density you are talking about. we have to be careful, especially with what she was talking about and the way that
5:36 am
people want to build. we're basically, people are on eighth street, where people basically -- this is a large development with the internal street, the kind of thing that you see in mission bay. the kind of problem that she is pointing to is turning what was public space into private space. it really kills the opportunity for variety, and different economic class is an uses. -- classes and uses. i would rather see taller buildings that cover less of the plot so that you can walk by them. what she is suggesting on the what she is suggesting on the streets that go from the north