July 24, 2009
The Drew School Addition Rendering Scoop: Its Living Wall And All
A plugged-in tipster delivers the renderings (click image to enlarge) for the proposed expansion of the Drew School along with a few details on its proposed green wall and roof:
An external "living wall" by the inventor of the vertical garden, Patrick Blanc—his first such installation in the U.S.; this along with the living roof designed by Rana Creek (creators of the acclaimed green roof at the new California Academy of Sciences) make up nearly 30% of the new building’s visible surfaces.
LEED-Gold Certified is the proposed goal for the $14 million addition overall.
First Published: July 24, 2009 2:30 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
How is it more green to build a totally new building (even if it is covered with some vines) than to retain an existing building?
I hope the city will not approve demolition of the existing Victorian, even if it will be replaced by a modern building covered in vines.
Posted by: cerky at July 24, 2009 3:13 PM
I hope they allow the demolition of this Victorian, because the city has too many of them.
Posted by: Toady at July 24, 2009 3:28 PM
Drove by the site. The Victorian is actually a very appealing building. As I said yesterday, however, the building to the south is totally without architectural merit. If that building is owned by the school, they could win a lot of support by proposing its demolition and moving the Victorian one lot down. Give the cost of the expansion of the school, a couple hundred thousand more should not ruin the deal.
Posted by: Conifer at July 24, 2009 3:34 PM
I don't understand two things:
1/ Why not just take what they have and fill in between the existing school and the Victorian? More square footage, not too dense for this urban environment, preserve the past and build for the future, and cheaper since no demo... Seems like the best of both worlds.
2/ The horrible renderings. This is a reasonably sized project, and much more should be demanded of this apparently 12 year old, scissors and craft paper-armed architect. It looks like it could be nice, but really who knows?!
Posted by: greencity at July 24, 2009 4:02 PM
How is it more green to buy a brand new Prius rather than drive one's old car? Green is the new Green($$$)
Posted by: soapbox derby at July 24, 2009 4:04 PM
Appealing does not mean it should be preserved.
As for the fill-in comment, clearly the school has outdoor space (what school doesn't?)
Posted by: Toady at July 24, 2009 4:23 PM
"this apparently 12 year old, scissors and craft paper-armed architect. It looks like it could be nice, but really who knows?! Posted by: greencity"
Please do not put down 12 year old architects. Remember that Pugin was already working with his father on Windsor Castle at 12. He died at 40, the greatest and most influential architect of the 19th century.
Posted by: Conifer at July 24, 2009 4:27 PM
Not very inspired, in my opinion. I'm always leery of architecture that depends on plant material to be successful. And I'm not sure this is successful in any case. Seems like the "green wall" is just a substitute for actually designing a facade. There's no reference to the existing school building. No sense of a coherent whole. The new buildings relate more to the dreary structure that they are adjacent to at the end of the block.
I'm not an huge fan of Victorians but they do have their charm, especially on the street. If you're going to tear one down, at least replace it with something of equal quality.
Posted by: salarywoman at July 24, 2009 4:27 PM
I would love to see an ad on Craigslist for the Victorian:
A complete graceful Victorian building (3 flats) for your infill project. Needs foundation but all fixtures included. Please bring transport. Contact Drew if interested.
Posted by: phil at July 24, 2009 5:02 PM
the old building looks way better.
here's a google satellite (over) view...
you can see the huge parking lot... my apartment looks down on it. seems like such a waste of space (could easily be ground/sub-floor parking and something nicer looking... i don't know for sure if Drew School owns it, but it seems like it...
I don't think that a school is a terrible use of land, but my only objection as a neighbor is tearing down a beautiful (if neglected) classic SF building if not totally necessary.
Posted by: hugh at July 24, 2009 5:06 PM
the environmental impact of replacing an old, energy inefficient building with a new, energy efficient one is negligible compared to the environmental benefits from energy saved. same goes with replacing that '76 cutlass supreme with a prius.
it's a shame to tear down an old victorian, but it's not like there's a shortage of them in sf.
you must be leery of many buildings, as most use plant material in the form of wood. :-)
i happen to think that living walls are kinda neat. i'd be interested to learn about what it takes to maintain one (not that i'd get one for myself).
Posted by: joh at July 24, 2009 5:51 PM
This green-cladding would be much more effective if the buildings had shapes somewhat distant from the most basic right-angle blocks.
As for the comment that SF has plenty of victorians, they're not making any more, not even any faithful reproductions. That appears to be explicitly forbidden by the planning commission rules. All we get in new construction is rectilinear drear.
Posted by: Delancey at July 25, 2009 1:18 AM
Faithful reproductions of Victorians is actually discouraged by the preservationist's bible, "The Secretary of the Interior's Standards for Rehabilitation," at least as far as replacement or modification of a Victorian go. Standard 9 says, in part, "The new work shall be differentiated from the old..."
And that's a good thing. Pseudo Victorians may look cute to some but they are not a valid historical record. We preserve buildings because they are a record of the past, not because we think they look nice. It's a surprisingly hard concept to grasp and it took me a while to come around to it.
Posted by: salarywoman at July 25, 2009 8:03 AM
I think our motivations differ--I care little about preservation for its own sake, but do care about having visually liveable architecture, of which victorians are a fine example.
The prohibition against imitating or reinventing past styles seems to have forced developers and architects into a brutally unadorned corner. "The new work shall be differentiated from the old" is such a vague standard that referencing a past style is asking to be delayed in approval hell for years.
Posted by: Delancey at July 25, 2009 2:04 PM
Pseudo Victorians may look cute to some but they are not a valid historical record.
So, I guess one CANNOT build in any historical style. Guess that rules out a rebuild of Cliff House...
Posted by: BobN at July 25, 2009 3:54 PM
Landscaped walls and roofs are much better than the alternative of asphalt and panels, and also better endure urban environments. Architects who complain about precious stone accessible to pedestrians being vandalized need to adjust their unrealistic expectations.
Expensive infill redevelopment isn't always greener, especially when the structure of the existing construction is incompatible with the desired use. Huge amounts of energy, temporary steps during construction, and exotic materials may be required to work within and around old building elements. Making residential buildings into arenas and such involves considerable architectural gymnastics. The victorian is cute, but is keeping a dissociated facade real preservation? That some complain that green is not really green but fractional preservation should be required speaks of an agenda.
Cities are not works for posterity and preservation, but containers for the activities of the living. The only good thing about turning SF into a kind of Venice is the development that would bring to the East Bay.
Posted by: Mole Man at July 27, 2009 2:02 PM
Oh my God, the proposal is HORRIBLE!
And I'm not usually given to making such statements.
Posted by: StockBoySF at July 27, 2009 5:58 PM
Um, what's the difference between a "living wall" and a wall covered with ivy? Cannot we just be straight-forward and honest about these things? A school wants ivy-covered walls. So what?!?
Posted by: Joshua at July 27, 2009 10:41 PM
The building to be demolished IS a "faithful reproduction" of a Victorian already. Check out p. 43 of the environmental report:
Posted by: curly-q at July 28, 2009 10:32 AM
Patrick Blanc does some wonderful work, but the nature of his plantings need a lot of maintinance. Also it is something attttached and not an integrated part of a structure. Vertical Landscape's patented VES (Vertical Ecosystem Structure) is also a load bearing shear wall that can be a uytility wall to attach a building's mechanical systems to. For more information go to www.vertlandscape.com
Posted by: Nelson Hyde Chick at August 1, 2009 4:25 PM
The [Drew School] proposes to demolish an existing 45-foot-tall, three-story-overbasement residential building at 1831-1835 Broderick Street (Assessors Block 1029, Lot 3), and construct a three-story-over-basement, 40-foot-tall addition to the existing Drew School building at 2901 California.
Drew School has exceeded the approved height limit of 40 feet. They have no consideration of the neighbors, and what gives them the right to violate the code and filings they represented to the City. The building inspector has been informed and needs to investigate
Posted by: John Burke at July 29, 2010 9:43 AM
If all of what John Burke says is indeed true, I applaud the Drew School. Good work!
However, I suspect John Burke left out some facts that hurt his argument.
Posted by: sfrenegade at July 29, 2010 10:42 AM
Whoever SFRENEGADE is, please take note that a complaint has been filed with the DPW of San Francisco, and upon their investigation we will live with the results. At the Planning Department, the Drew School was approved for 40 feet, and a measurement of the present construction in progress is over 40 feet. So M. SFRENEGADE believes that a code of laws has no structure in society?
Posted by: JohnBurke at August 13, 2010 7:50 PM