First St. John's United Methodist Church at Larkin and Clay (Image Source: MapJack.com)
Last night the San Francisco Planning Commission voted 6-1 to disapprove the application to raze the First Saint John’s Methodist Church at 1601 Larkin and redevelop as proposed.
1601 Larkin Rendering as Proposed
The sole dissenting vote was cast by Commissioner Michael Antonini who apparently prefaced his vote with a remark about the proposed project needing to be redesigned.
The project’s Environmental Impact Report (EIR) was deemed to be “inadequate in its consideration of project alternatives, among other things” and the project’s requested Conditional Use Authorization for height and other variances were denied.
And yes, plugged-in people should have seen this coming.
UPDATE: Another perspective on the proposed project:
1601 Larkin Rendering
City Loses Landmark Appeal, Church Of The Pagoda Theater Anyone? [SocketSite]
1601 Larkin: Comments, Responses And Latest Renderings [SocketSite]
1601 Larkin Reignites An Architects Versus Planning Design Debate [SocketSite]
Planning Disapproves Of Proposed Height For 1601 Larkin Project [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by EH

    looks like they’re gonna have to keep the belfry!

  2. Posted by kathleen

    The rendering shows the building from a completely different perspective than the “before” shot posted on socketsite.
    From any other angle, I think the propsed building would seem way out of scale with the surrounding buildings.
    [Editor's Note: We're not so sure about that "completely different perspective" part, but regardless, another rendering (which we've posted before) has been added above.]

  3. Posted by Gil

    The original structure is far more visually interesting. It draws one’s attention with interesting rooflines, setbacks and the materials used. Curved windows make for a nice treatment. It has an intimate look.
    The rejected design is basically a box. Nothing interesting or appealing. A cold, sterile look which adds nothing to the streetscape.

  4. Posted by noearch

    Another bad decision by our out of touch Planning Commission, mainly one member this time. I think Antonini should not get involved in the design business.
    This project is a well designed contemporary solution for the neighborhood. For once, it doesn’t mimic Victorian or Edwardian style in any way, and offers a clean, fresh solution that also speaks of the future.
    This antiquated city is increasingly more out of touch with good architecture and responsible growth.

  5. Posted by Jim

    Pity. A most interesting design in a grim part of the city. What is the message here? Come back with a stucco victorian with bay windows?

  6. Posted by scurvy

    Fu(k this town. It deserves to be on the road to irrelevance…and Detroit.
    Would they prefer that it look like the rest of this really run-down block on Larkin? Seriously? There are stretches of Larkin in TL that look better than this block.

  7. Posted by spitpalm

    More bullets shot into San Francisco’s proverbial foot. Keep it up SF!

  8. Posted by dell

    Of course antoninin shouldn’t get involved with design, he’s a freakin dentist, so why the hell is he on the commission? That’s the problem with the city planning commission structure, it’s largely political with you mayor and board appointees, and generally not people even remotely qualified to judge such matters. Although I’m no fan of the Planning Department, at least if they had the final rule, IF you conformed to rule x, y or z, your project would be approved.

  9. Posted by Sam Foster

    So what are we supposed to do with decommissioned churches?

  10. Posted by Political Corruption

    Planning Commission or Department had nothing to do with the disapproval.
    Crooked San Francisco Politicians killed this thing from day 1.
    Specifically the drunken dwarf Aaron Peskin, perpetuated by the worst Supervisor ever Aaron Chiu, I mean David…
    Quit bashing Dr. Antonini. He is a God-send. If it weren’t for Dr. A nothing would get built in this town.
    Keep developing Soma and Hunters Point… great solution.
    This piece of shit building will fall over and hopefully not hurt a citizen, soon.
    Until then we still have a mess of crooked politicians in this town with their hands in all the wrong places.
    Clearly, 5:1 the public spoke in favor of this development.
    Now its Cal- Neva United Methodist Church v CCSF once again and the church will win, as they already have twice, the absolute right to take this POS down.
    Now how do we take down our local political system and re build that?

  11. Posted by Nancy

    Damn! I was considering moving back to Nob Hill! Screw it, I’ll stay in Soma where people enjoy wonderful architecture!

  12. Posted by NoeValleyJim

    I actually liked the hybrid structure, even though everyone else thought it an abomination. Maybe the developers can bring that idea back. It is very funky and interesting and San Francisco needs to take more chances with its architecture like that.

  13. Posted by Big V

    How about doing something interesting with the church as is — like put a brew pub in it with the fermenting vats on the alter. Its always a hit (i’ve seen it done elsewhere) There are thousands of great things to do with an old church! Large gathering spaces like that are hard to come by in a city. You could throw some nice parties in it…..

  14. Posted by zig

    “I think the proposed building would seem way out of scale with the surrounding buildings.”
    So across the street there is a 4 story bld and this is proposed 5 story bld?

  15. Posted by zig

    this should be simply a ministerial approval

  16. Posted by BobTheBuilder

    noearch: I hope you’re not hoping to practise architecture in San Francisco – if you don’t even know who is who on the Planning Commission then god help any of your clients’ projects up in front of the Commission. As PC corrected later, Dr. Antonini is a far better qualified judge of appropriate planning than any of the other commissioners, especially Peskin’s crazy twin architects Sugaya and Moore.
    Having said that, you’re right that the City bureaucrats and commissioners should stay out of the design business and stick to land-use regulation (isn’t there something in the Constitution about that? should be).

  17. Posted by rubber_chicken

    You have to be well connected to get through w/o staff approval. If the developer lopped off a unit or two from the the downhill side on Clay – to step w/ the hill, etc – they probably could have gotten staff on their side…

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