January 22, 2010

The Future Fourth Street And Envisoned Hub Of Mission Bay

Fourth Street In Mission Bay: 11/5/09 (www.SocketSite.com)

While the opening of Mission Bay’s Fourth Street extension still doesn’t have a hard date, fingers are crossed that it should be open by spring (albeit not built out).

Envisioned to become the Chestnut, Union or Fillmore of Mission Bay, the blocks between the Fourth Street Bridge and Mission Bay Boulevard North (think southern border of the Radiance site) will one day be lined with restaurants, retail and strolling pedestrians if (or when) all goes as planned.

An Overview Of Mission Bay [SocketSite]
Radiance: Positioning For Phase II (And To Close Out Phase I) [SocketSite]

First Published: January 22, 2010 4:00 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

I walked through this area one sunny day a few weeks ago on my way to Mission Creek Park - there are already tons of beautiful benches installed on the sidewalk! Though right now they face fenced empty lots...

Posted by: AlamoSquare Dewller at January 22, 2010 4:10 PM

Is that really San Francisco, or Cleveland? What exactly will change that would draw me to stroll down this street? I am all for change, but shouldn't new neighborhoods be better than what we already have? Where are the view corridors? Where are the views of the bay? Why would I even know I was in San Francisco?

Posted by: Yuck! at January 22, 2010 4:11 PM

"Where are the view corridors? Where are the views of the bay? Why would I even know I was in San Francisco?"

Yup. This will one day be bemoaned as an architectual folly and a failure to create something spectacular and special. An opportunity lost forever.

You are especially right on regarding how this development has failed to take advantage of its proximity to the Bay. To open itself to the Bay and water views instead of well - as you say, how would you even know you were even near the Bay.

Posted by: Gil at January 22, 2010 4:21 PM

This area could be very nice, probably not reach its potential, because people only care about the $$ aspect, but I still think this will be a much nicer part of the city, than others. The views of the downtown skyline from here are really nice.

Posted by: SFRE at January 22, 2010 4:46 PM

The architecture, the trees, benches, the spaces in between will not alone make it spectacular and special.

The people, the activity, the humanness of it will.

To criticize something that is evolving, and has not completely happened yet...is...beyond imagination. I'm continually amazed at so many armchair NEGATIVE thinkers in this great city.

Posted by: noearch at January 22, 2010 4:56 PM

Noearch, we are not talking about San Francisco, we are talking about Mission Bay. Do you really think Mission Bay is worthy of San Francisco? Where in its planning is there an example of "lessons learned" from what are the great iconic neighborhoods of San Francisco that should be celebrated? I am not sure how long you have lived in the city, but wayyyyyyyyy back when Mission Bay was originally presented, there were view corridors, streets without cars, and a density that looked more like the inner canals of Amsterdam than Irvine (but with good modern architecture). Did you know some of the original Mission Bay plans had canals? They showed waterfront parks, and a diversity of architecture more in keeping with Russian Hill than some office park outside of Dallas. There is nothing wrong with pointing out this Emperor has no clothes, and San Francisco's image will do just fine even if Mission Bay is explained truthfully.

Posted by: Yuck again at January 22, 2010 5:35 PM

The human eye takes in a lot more than what that photo relays along that corridor. Ease up off one photo on the internet. LOL.

Posted by: anonn at January 22, 2010 6:01 PM

Interesting side streets would help; can't have one street with shops if they don't connect to intriguing off-streets with street level uses. The adjacent large res complexes need to have retail spaces/uses otherwise all will feel forced and be a suburban experience (could feel as tedious as the blocks lined with chain food stores off and around Third -- a numbing anywhere feeling like a corporate mall).

Water? MB turned its back on the bay; we really want to bring 4th street along the bay -- why look the other way on our natural gift? Didn't Ferry Bldg teach us anything? Nothing about 4th St. will let you know you're in SF. There is an interesting enough creek and a small bridge, but I'm talking the bay!

Posted by: invented at January 22, 2010 6:03 PM

I'm skeptical this will be an anjoyable street for pedestrians given the asphalt:sidewalk ratio.

Posted by: Pedestrianist at January 22, 2010 7:04 PM

But what a nice view corridor to the big banal...

I've also thought that the hospital complex on the other side of the campus would benefit from a bit of street-accessible retail--a coffee shop, lunch places, etc. Otherwise it's one long institution of no relevance to pedestrians.

The windswept and pedestrian-unfriendly Berry St doesn't fill me with hope for other planned neighborhood efforts.

Posted by: Delancey at January 22, 2010 7:36 PM

I agree that Mission Bay is a bit dull right now, but it is still early in development.

I wouldn't say Mission Bay ignores the bay. There will be 27 parcels of open space in Mission Bay, including all along the side of Mission Bay that faces the bay:

http://www.sfredevelopment.org/ftp/uploadedfiles/Projects/MB%20Land%20Use%20Plan%20Map_11.05.pdf

Posted by: Dan at January 22, 2010 8:12 PM

Gesh, the area is not done. Let's not bemoan the quarter finished canvas. This is Fourth St. not Terry Francois Way where more parks are slated along the water. Look down Mission Bay South and North at the future 5 block long commons parkway that's where the connection to the water will be. Sure the IM PEI scheme was more imaginative but what we have is a byproduct of political, economical, social and design compromise between multiple forces. It's unfortunate but it's life.

FYI the commons parkway is design to serve as Mission Bay's storm water filtrations system. The natural grass and drainage beds below it will help reduce runoff from UCSF and surrounds from polluting the bay. There already one segment of the parkway built.

Posted by: hhatmm at January 22, 2010 9:57 PM

Let's face it, a lot SF is filthy and this neighborhood, in the future, will offer a cleaner, greener, and relatively "safer" place to live regardless of it's bland architecture and poorly planned view corridors. It's not for everyone, including myself, but I know there are people out there who will enjoy it.

Posted by: spitpalm at January 22, 2010 10:13 PM

I think the complainers above have it completely right: the architects and planners of this space totally missed out on opening it up with inspiration from the view corridors of Chestnut & Scott. Folly, pure folly old chap! Now, where did I put my Smirnoff Ice...

Posted by: EH at January 22, 2010 10:15 PM

"Did you know some of the original Mission Bay plans had canals? They showed waterfront parks, and a diversity of architecture more in keeping with Russian Hill than some office park outside of Dallas."

I had heard about a plan with canals being originally poroposed for the area. I have never seen the concept drawings but would love to track them down. This is the kind of innovative and unique vision demanded by such a location. A vision that will now never materialize.

I guess the idea was to build off of Islais Creek and emphazize the water location and actually bring the water/bay into the neighborhood. Spectacular concept. A crime really that something like this was not done.

But this is the history of SF. The plastering of the hills with ticky tacky houses built on tiny lots wall to wall that proceeded apace in the 40s and 50s turned much of SF into physically ugly neighborhoods.

I saw a picture of the horse/cow trail that skirted Mt. Davidson taken in the 30s. Wide open spaces on the southern flank of the mountain except for 3 "large" houses being built on what is now Foerster St. Those homes still stand. Detached with a feel of Monterey Heights. I guess that was the original plan for the southern flank of Mt. Davidson going down through what is now Sunnsyside.

Unfortunately this vision was abandoned and Foerster today is a very unattractive street with homes squezed into every available space and built right up to one another. Sunyside is even more bleak and so is Ingelside.

A perfect example of what happens when a vision is not followed and expediency takes over. The argument is let MB develop over time and it will grow into something better.

Problem is that is a false hope/promise. The southern flank of MT. Davidson, Sunnyside and Ingelside grew over time as neighborhoods (40s, 50s and 60s and the result is ugly housing stock obscuring the beauty of the hills there.

The same can be said for the Sunset, Glen Park, Bernal Heights. This is the rule and not the exception in SF and any of us hoping for something special at MB or in SOMA or at Hunter's Point were/are fooling ourselves.

Posted by: Gil at January 23, 2010 9:43 AM

Gil-- In condemning the planning of Mt. Davidson, Sunnyside, Ingleside, the Sunset, Glen Park, Bernal Heights, Mission Bay, SOMA, and Hunter's Point, you are mixing up many different issues and types of neighborhoods.

Much of the dense housing on Bernal Heights was built in the late 19th to early 20th century, older than many of the houses on Nob Hill, Telegraph Hill, and Russian Hill. Do you think those hills should have been left pristine except for a few large, detached homes?

This is a different issue than Mission Bay, which has the problem of being developed in large chunks, whether for housing or laboratories, and the difficulty of having that kind of neighborhood develop an organic feel, with the unique shops, cafes, and other features of street life for which older SF neighborhoods are known.

Posted by: Dan at January 23, 2010 11:09 AM

We jog through this area four times a week. Right now it's quite apocalyptic what with the new construction and no people.

True, the view corridor points straight at Rincon tower. But it's actually quite a lovely little stretch which ends at the new park along the estuary. This in turn links to the Barbary Coast trail and the Embarcadero. It's a really nice route.

Those who complain about a lack of retail haven't been down there, as the new condo building has all retail at street level. I think this will develop into a lovely area - my only complaint is the lack of planning for pedestrian crossings and bike lanes. The stop lights are timed badly, made to allow car traffic flow while taking forever for someone waiting to cross the intersection.

Posted by: Schlub at January 23, 2010 3:34 PM

The stop lights are timed badly, made to allow car traffic flow while taking forever for someone waiting to cross the intersection.

Well, this is similar to many peripheral areas where the best ways to move around are either public transportation or a car. This is a suburban design for young workers who need to work hard to pay the new mortgage. No time to walk when you log 10-14 hour days. And then they get kids and the car becomes the choice #1 for almost every occasion.

Posted by: wow at January 23, 2010 4:41 PM

Failure!

http://bikeculturetheory.wordpress.com/2009/05/16/mission-bay-san-francisco-a-livable-streets-failure/

Bravo BikeCultureTheory!

Why some want to defend what Mission Bay is becoming is beyond me. There is no excuse for turning some of the last available urban landscape into such a unimaginative waste. Does anyone else not travel to places where things are being done better?

Gil is right. I think the vast majority of the city is not only bad architecture and planning, but is only saved by the natural landscape it partially destroyed. Without the hills, bay and coastal weather, would many neighborhoods in this city be as desirable for their architecture or planning?

Posted by: WeShouldExpectMore at January 23, 2010 6:29 PM

Without a doubt very few of the posters here have seen Mission Bay beyond a glance from their car on I-280 in years...or perhaps a brush off from a target of a sloppy pick up line at First Amendment in a drunken happy hour stupor after work. Or walked on either side of Mission Creek (or seen the tennis, basketball and volleyball courts under the hwy.) or the greenspace across from the ballpark. Or biked it. It's actually a great place to bike, esp. Terry Francois, The trees in that part of soma and mission Bay are still young, too. Give them a year a two and it will already be one of the greenest spots in the city.
The comment about cleveland is pathetic and juvenile ((been to cleveland, it looks nothing like it). if anything, Mission Bay and the King St. area looks like parts of Gothenberg and Stockholm. One Rincon has won all kinds of awards, regardless of the provincial snark by entitled freeloaders that just want someone to buy them a home. The view at it and the skyline down 4th with ballpark on right is reveals as much. It all glistens in the sunset. Yes, there is a lot of construction and more to fill, but even in the past year Mission Bay and that part of SoMa south of Harrison down 4th has blossomed with restaurants and more. Frankly, I hope the critics stay in front of their computers in their little victorian rentals or those edwardians over flimsy garages that will crumble in a quake and crush your bike and your bottle of patchouli == you are not needed in SoMa and Mission Bay. Truly.

Posted by: grrr at January 24, 2010 1:20 AM

By the way, Gil, why don;t you go back to Candyland or wherever you are from and pick up those fantasy plans for Venice-on-the-Bay (perhaps it was the Venetian in Vegas you saw...yeah, it sounds really "authentic"). Pure drivel from someone who seems to hate everything and everyplace in SF and one that likely has never spent more than a quick drive through MB -- if that. But, you know, there is available land in SoMa and MB to buy, so put YOUR money where your mouth is (not other developers, not taxpayers) and built your little castle to your ego. Or better yet, move to the great plains away from "homes built on top of each other" and frolic in the empty hills like you're Laura Ingalls Wilder

Posted by: grrr at January 24, 2010 1:36 AM

grrr --

Short response: get bent.

Long response: I do live here, and do frequently check out the construction southeast of Mission Creek. I stopped running down Terry Francois when I realized I was letting the sun fry my skull in a sea of asphalt (about 1.25 miles to get beyond that, and returning up 3rd is dire). I still run down the Mission Creek esplanade, and have in the past debunked the sewage stink myth, and have said nice things about the park under the 280 overpass, though I still have yet to see anyone use the volleyball court. I've also expressed appreciation for the non-palm trees installed on 3rd, and that the office park streets at least have different trees per block.

But, that does not ameliorate the lack of imagination and execution in Mission Bay so far. Berry Street is a wind tunnel with thin sidewalks. Berry street should have had a jog with a wind-blocking structure (and those buildings are blockily functional) and another two feet of sidewalk width.

The hospital complex block on 4th needs human-accessible retail. Put a few coffee/food spots at the edge of the parking lot across the street.

The "greenspace" opposite the ballpark that you laud came with the ballpark in 1998, and it is thin and sloped. Not much use, even for the homeless.

The comment about Cleveland (and Dallas) is about the epically bland residential architecture. The only visually interesting construction so far is a parking garage facade.

The only hope for the designated block of retail on 4th street is to divide it into 25 and 50 foot on-street widths, and allow architectural firms to bid on them, with the requirement that no firm may acquire rights to more than one lot, and that no design may resemble another. If it is instead planned like the rest of Mission Bay, it will be a two-sided strip mall.

What does King Street have to recommend it besides the ballpark? I like Pete's Tavern as a sports bar, but the interior is old-school warehouse, not new construction, and it isn't Mission Bay.

BTW, it is *twenty*-first amendment, and it is not a meat market.

Posted by: Delancey at January 24, 2010 2:33 AM

weshouldexpectmore:

good link about the lack of bike infrasctructure. I've always been amazed at how bike unfriendly SF is, especially given its liberal bent.

I am an avid biker, but I rarely if ever bike in SF. It just isn't safe. Even the so-called bike lanes are a joke at best, and poorly designed/thought out.

it is a shame they couldn't have thought of bike traffic.

In the past I used to give my proposal for a better SF (from public transport standpoint). where the city made every 10th block or so bike/bus only. people always talk about why that can't be done.

but here we had a blank slate. there was no reason they couldn't have made a few pedestrian and bike ONLY streets as a model for future city development.
------
as for the rest, yeah SF architecture, especially here, is generic. but IMO there are reasons for that.

in the past (1800's even up to mid century) each metro area was somewhat insular. companies worked on a more local basis. supplies also were more locally sourced. Fashion/etc was also more local. So you got different types of architecture. Victorians in SF. Mid Century modern in Palm Springs, Brownstones in Chicago, etc.

a trend that was in SF might take years or decades to make it to Iowa.

but those days are gone. Now our materials are sourced all over the world, the companies are often mega-companies, our media is worldwide, etc.

Thus, the same trends that happen in NYC show up in SF and Akron all at the same time. be it fashion, real estate, etc.

the differences between the various cities have shrunk dramatically, and will continue to do so IMO.

Posted by: ex SF-er at January 24, 2010 6:34 AM

This looks nothing, and I mean, nothing, like Cleveland. Some of the things people say on here. Wowsers.

http://www.skylinepictures.com/TUCKER%20Riverfest%20-%20flats%20%20FULL.htm

Posted by: anonn at January 24, 2010 9:42 AM

"By the way, Gil, why don;t you go back to Candyland or wherever you are from and pick up those fantasy plans for Venice-on-the-Bay (perhaps it was the Venetian in Vegas you saw...yeah, it sounds really "authentic"). Pure drivel from someone who seems to hate everything and everyplace in SF and one that likely has never spent more than a quick drive through MB --"

Well grr, I won't have far to go to go back to where I came from. I'm a native SFer - born and raised here.

BTW, I've spent lots of time at MB. Worked at 370 3rd till a few years back and would often walk up that way on my lunch breaks. Not to mention long visits to the area to check it out many times in the past 5 plus years.

Posted by: Gil at January 24, 2010 10:55 AM

The SF Bike Plan has been held up in court for the last 3 years, with just a recent partial lifting of the injunction:

http://www.sfbike.org/?bikeplan_lawsuit

Posted by: Dan at January 24, 2010 11:08 AM

"Gil is right. I think the vast majority of the city is not only bad architecture and planning, but is only saved by the natural landscape it partially destroyed. Without the hills, bay and coastal weather, would many neighborhoods in this city be as desirable for their architecture or planning?"

ITA here with WeShouldExpectMore.

SF has a natural beauty due to the setting but over time the devlopment proceeded in a way that mostly took away from the natural beauty and hid much of it. Instead of taking advantage of the city's setting.

Mt. Davidson was saved from development by a wealthy environmentalist at a time when that word was not in use as it is today. Short of this precient person, the highest hill in SF would today be covered with ticky tacky houses all the way to the top.

Kruschev is supposed to have said SF couuld never be a great city as it had no trees. Don't know if that is true or not but I think it is more than trees that kept SF from being a great city.

The fatal development mistakes that doomed doomed SF, IMO, to a cold, monotonous look and feel was the subdivision of virtually all of SF into 25 foot lots combined with the imposition of a grid pattern on all areas where it could be done (hilly neighborhoods escaped this of course) and the insistence on building structures virtually to the sidewalk line.

SF was thusly denied not only tress but basic green stretches in much of the city. Not to mention architectual variety.

The 25 foot template imposed not just a physical monotony to the city it imposed an artistic monotony in the sense that the 25 foot grid pattern restricted architectually what could be done and forced a severe uniformity in many areas. Drive the Sunset especially in the summer if you need to be reminded of this.

Things can't really be fixed now for the simple reason it's impossible to convert the 25 ft SFR neighborhoods to 50 ft SFR neighborhoods.

But such a little change back in the day coupled with building back from the sidewalk an extra 10 or 15 feet would have resulted into a totally different city in look and feel.

You can get a glimpse of what might have been by going to Old Miraloma. Look at the architectual variety and note the lots are still quite small -many just 40 ft wide. So I'm not talking about vary large lots as you find in Sea Cliff or St. Francis Woods. That would not have been practical.

As for building back from the sidewalk, the weather here is not conducive to being outdoors in the yard a lot. Most, certainly many, SFers let their backyards go wild. Pushing the homes back 10 or 15 feet would have opened up many of the too narrow streets.

I could go on but suffice it to say it's been one missed development opportunity in SF after another almost from the get-go.

Posted by: Gil at January 24, 2010 11:31 AM

Gil
Your insight is, what? time spent at McDonalds on 3rd st..."a few years back?" That is eons ago in SoMa time. Try walking down 4th now, you talk about Pete's Tavern as if it's the only restaurant in the area which is disingenuous as it is obnoxious. On fourth starting at Bryant is Orson, Zuppa, Fringale and Cooco500, which pack them in nightly, Bacar and others are just around the corner. Or perhaps u should walk along Mission Creek, the popular promenade in front of the condos, or the landscaped park on the other side. What's key is that Mission Bay is by no means complete, yet is evolving very quickly. And at least it;s one place in the city they are planting trees. And as long as the homeless don't destroy them all (like all those planted near 5th and the fwy and Bryant), they will make the area look greener than any hood in SF. This city needs more trees for many reasons. It also needs less restrictions on new housing and less requirements for "affordable" (ie.subsidized) housing, which is typically ugly. Let the market dictate price instead of bureaucracy and taxes thwarting the (optimal) development and the jobs it brings. This part of SoMa, flanking 4th, is a very pleasant and convenient place to live. You have everything you need within a few blocks of all the condos + apt. bldgs built in past 5 yrs. Everyone can walk to work if their jobs are downtown, although trains, transit are easy options, too. And easy access on 280 to get to target in DC, if needed. It's all here and it's never looked better. And since you don;t live in SoMa anymore, you don't have to visit. Keep your pretentious trash elsewhere.

Posted by: grrr at January 24, 2010 3:10 PM

The fact that San Francisco opens itself up to the water and other natural beauty around it is actually one of her strongest points.

Check out what other cities have done with their waterfronts, they are usually cut off from the city with freeways like Manhattan or Chicago (or Gil's favorite city Portland) or industrial wastelands like Pittsburgh or Long Beach. We used to have the same problem before we tore down the Embarcadero Freeway.

Except in the oldest parts of town, hilltops are reserved for public use, so that everyone can enjoy the nicest views, not just a few. Many of the public parks, even in the poorest parts of town, have really nice views.

China Basin is a work in progress, so it is a little hard to judge by what is completed so far, but the original plan included plenty of bike lanes. Has that changed somehow? I bicycle every day in San Francisco and I don't find it particularly hazardous but I do try to stick to streets that have bike lanes though. It will be nice when the lawsuit is finally dismissed and we can continue building out the bike network. Rob Anderson has pretty much single handedly set The City back three years so far. It is too bad that one pest can do that here.

The number of cyclists in The City has exploded over the last few years, making it much safer for all of us. Cars have gotten much more used to watching out for bicycles.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at January 24, 2010 3:20 PM

NoeValleyJim, I agree with most of your thoughts, but unlike New York, Chicago has an amazing waterfront and you cannot find another North American city that has used its waterfront as well as Chicago. The planning of Chicago made the waterfront the major resourse of that city, and is far beyond anything we have. It is true that in the Streeterville area Lake Shore Drive becomes the shoreline, but for the rest of the entire length from north to south you have nothing but parks, beaches, event spaces and museums. What was the last remaining parcel of waterfront land in Chicago , very similar to Mission Bay, is now Millennium Park which may very well be the best new civic development in the last 25 years in North America. What is most interesting to me about Chicago is that the waterfront is where you want to live, and is the highest priced real estate, while in San Francisco we tend to turn our backs on the waterfront.

http://www.alumni-world.com/snuaachicago/images/public%20images/chicago-waterfront-park.jpg

Do you really think Mission Bay is a modern day version of a Daniel Burnham plan? Do people really think Mission Bay is the good urban planning and design? What I do not understand is that there seems to be a knee jerk reaction by some SF Boosters and Bashers, but is there not a middle ground? San Francisco is a beautiful city, but is Mission Bay as designed worthy of San Francisco? I think Mission Bay is no more "unique" than any other condo-office park found in any outer ring suburb in the U.S.A.

Let's be honest, Mission Bay is the exact opposite of what Jane Jacobs proposed as solutions for American urban ills.

Posted by: anon2 at January 24, 2010 3:56 PM

I think some of you folks should walk from the ballpark along the Embarcadero, through Fisherman's Wharf, around Ft. Mason, past Marina Green, and out through Crissy Fields to Ft. Baker sometime. Ugly and turning its back on the Bay? Hardly. Beautiful and embracing the Bay, more like. The Embarcadero development and the Crissy Fields reclamation are relatively recent events!

I know that this thread is about Mission Bay. The jury is still out. (The Mariposa Park looks nice, and thanks for that Dan.) But some folks are going overboard. Like they fell off the Hornblower and into the Bay or something.

Posted by: anonn at January 24, 2010 4:16 PM

I agree Anonn, our waterfront is becoming outstanding, but is Mission Bay really good in your opinion? Do you consider it an excellent design? Would this be the type of place you would take your visiting friends from out of town?

I accidentally posted a 25 year old picture of Chicago btw. The train tracks are mostly gone and are now part of Millennium Park.

See pictures below...

http://fairegarden.files.wordpress.com/2009/06/june-1-2009-sf1-045-2.jpg

http://www.chicagotap.org/userFiles/Home%20Page%20Images/MP%20Photo%20for%20Home%20Page.gif

Posted by: anon2 at January 24, 2010 4:21 PM

"Envisioned to become the Chestnut, Union or Fillmore of Mission Bay, "

Hey! Sometimes I talk like that about Folsom "Blvd"!

Posted by: Paul Hwang at January 24, 2010 11:44 PM

I have only been to Chicago once, but I remember this huge eight lane street walling off the Lake from the rest of the city. It doesn't really look like they have done anything there with Millennium Park to fix that. It is great to have such a nice park on the Lake though, it is really a gem. But it would be better if you could actually get to the lake, don't you think? At least Lakeshore Boulevard is not an elevated freeway.

The plans I have seen for Mission Bay show pretty much continuous parks all along The Bay and Mission Creek:

http://missionbayparks.com/future.php

This looks pretty nice to me, but I will have to reserve judgment until I see how the execution is. I like what has happened with Mission Creek so far, what UCSF has done not as much. The campus will be a lot more interesting when there are more people using it though. I hope.

Posted by: NoeValleyJim at January 24, 2010 11:47 PM

A million times better than it was!

Probably at least half of SF neighborhoods are worthy of evacuation and a nice bulldozing. Some would define character as organic artisanal dog croissant shops in run-down homeless-filled rent-controlled neighborhoods. Not me.

Give me new and clean anyday of the week, even if it is not starchitect desighed. Of course I would like it to be better, but in the epicenter of NIMBY-ism, what do you expect?

Posted by: anon at January 25, 2010 9:41 AM

@ anon2

but is Mission Bay really good in your opinion? Do you consider it an excellent design? Would this be the type of place you would take your visiting friends from out of town?

I reserve judgment so far. It's not even 1/4 built. I consider the UCSF architecture so far to be sort of institutional. After the creation of all these parks that are slated to come, and the promenade, etc., I'd definitely take out of town friends down there on a sunny day.

Posted by: anonn at January 25, 2010 10:24 AM

I'm laughing at all this bellyaching. San Francisco has never had great architecture. Why start now?

And the last thing I want is some self-proclaimed lover of architecture telling us what kind of missed opportunity there was. I love this paragraph that Gil thinks shows off how smart he is:

"The fatal development mistakes that doomed doomed SF, IMO, to a cold, monotonous look and feel was the subdivision of virtually all of SF into 25 foot lots combined with the imposition of a grid pattern on all areas where it could be done (hilly neighborhoods escaped this of course) and the insistence on building structures virtually to the sidewalk line."

Um, the grid architecture exists over the hilly areas as well. Might want to drive around Russian Hill or Pacific Heights. Or maybe just look at the freakin' map.

In fact there was a grand plan to redo the street layout before the 1906 earthquake (Google Daniel Burnham) , but the people wanted to rebuild quickly.

Credibility: Lost.

Instead, it's just another anti-developer screed.

Posted by: Toady at January 25, 2010 10:42 AM

"Some would define character as organic artisanal dog croissant shops in run-down homeless-filled rent-controlled neighborhoods. Not me."

This is so true. Nice characterization, anon@9:41. We should always strive to make the city better. Although the rent-controlled part is probably not as common as people think, however misguided rent-control policies are in this city.

Posted by: JimBobJones at January 25, 2010 11:03 AM

"Um, the grid architecture exists over the hilly areas as well. Might want to drive around Russian Hill or Pacific Heights. Or maybe just look at the freakin' map.

In fact there was a grand plan to redo the street layout before the 1906 earthquake (Google Daniel Burnham) , but the people wanted to rebuild quickly."

They did grids wherever they could.

On the city's highest hills - Forest Hill, Diamond Heights, Twin Peaks and Mt. Davidson it wasn't practical so those area are blessed with non-grid street patterns.

The Burnham plan is common knowledge. SF rejected it - as I said it's been one missed development opportunity almost from the get-go in San Francisco.

Posted by: Gil at January 25, 2010 11:11 AM

Article on the Burnham plan in the Chron, for those interested:
http://articles.sfgate.com/2006-04-12/news/17288874_1_golden-gate-park-lake-michigan-nation-s-ninth-largest-city

Here's a gigantic map of the Burnham Plan -- note the huge plaza at Market and Van Ness, along with the diagonal roads and the increased number of parks, along with keeping some of SF's historic waterways like Islais Creek, and that 19th Ave was still an arterial road:
http://www.davidrumsey.com/luna/servlet/detail/RUMSEY~8~1~28528~1120881:San-Francisco-plan,-showing-system-

Wikipedia also has a gigantic map of the Burnham Plan:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/File:Burnham_San_Francisco.jpg


Interestingly, Burnham understood the homeless blight in SF and wanted to move services away from city center:
"Another obstacle was a public almshouse which provided services to the poor; Burnham called it 'a blot on one of the fairest vistas' and proposed moving it to the outskirts of San Francisco near the county jail."

Posted by: corntrollio at January 25, 2010 11:49 AM

"I'm a native SFer - born and raised here."...

...who just only recently learned (and only via transplant friends who moved away) that there is a homeless problem in SF.

...who claims that SF is becoming uglier, when anyone (native or not) who has been around a few years and is not a mental retard can see that the past generation has brought aesthetic improvement to a good part of the city (for the best example, see kenny's post above).

...etc, etc


Gil needs to spare us his uncritical and uncompromising pessimism. What's happened recently in his life to make him so bitter and negative? His boy/girlfriend dump him recently? Passed over for a promotion at work? His favorite cat die?

He bitches and moans about everything; architecture, planning, jobs fleeing, a (supposed) decline in civic standards, the Sunset, more (supposedly) trash on the street, Mission Bay, the price of bread and blah blah blah, so on and so forth.

Yet, we still haven't found out why Gil hasn't quit his local job to move to paradise on earth (Portland). One would think that after umpteen posts about how the local economy is going to hell (and forever at that) while Portland, Austin, and the like are the present and the future and thriving, thriving, thriving, that Gil would put his money where his considerable mouth is and just move.

I mean, there are jobs aplenty in those places, right? And the planners, politicians, and architects are much better and smarter in those places, right? And the states themselves are solvent and rolling in cash because of smart taxation policy, right?

http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/24/us/24oregon.html?scp=2&sq=oregon&st=cse

Or not.

Credibility. Never existed.

Posted by: nnona at January 25, 2010 12:16 PM

I think that the street grid is one of the coolest aspects of the city's design. The designers were probably not thinking of this, but the straight streets provide sight lines right out to the water or hills. Those sight lines would be obscured by a modern meandering street layout that follows the contours.

Not so great however is the effect of those steep hills on your brakes or clutch.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 25, 2010 12:56 PM


Mission Bay is a great place to exercise! It is the most beautiful natural area downtown. Mission creek has seals, manta ray, exotic birds. See my web site photo gallery.

Posted by: Realbillsf at August 3, 2010 11:51 AM

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