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Designed to be built with a black tile façade, the Planning Department requested the architects change the color scheme of the proposed building to rise at the corner of Fulton and Gough in order to win the Department’s support and recommendation.
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Having gone ahead and presented both designs to the Planning Commission, architect David Baker reports on the outcome:

The San Francisco Planning Commission agreed with us on the darker corner and overruled the Planning Department. It should be clear that most of the building will be a light color: just this corner is darker, a variegated gloss glazed clay tile. The sunshades are anodized perforated aluminum. The gloss finish on the curve will produce a dynamic shifting highlight.

The notion that San Francisco is a city of white buildings is nostalgic, and might have been true at some time in the past. The actual condition is quite diverse with great variation in tonal value. Personally I like things mixed up a bit.

We couldn’t agree more. In fact, we wouldn’t mind seeing the mixing of even more styles and truly modern design(s) throughout San Francisco.
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Black And White In Hayes Valley And In The Ayes Of Planning [SocketSite]
A New Hayes Valley Home For The Boys & Girls (And Adults) [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by sheeneedaquitit

    Am I understanding that the original material as proposed has been approved?
    OAN, what’s up with the three unicyclists in the first image?

  2. Posted by landlord sf

    from planning’s website:
    “The San Francisco Planning Department engages citizens in an ongoing dialogue about San Francisco’s future and plays a central role in guiding the long-term development of the built and natural environment. It is comprised of more than 125 staff who evaluate regional growth management policy, monitor and update the City’s General Plan, ensure compliance of the Planning and Zoning codes, draft land use policy, and develop sub-area and urban design plans.”
    I don’t get why they have any say in what color a building is going to be.

  3. Posted by TinyTim

    The 3 unicyclsts could represent either the Three Amigos or the Three Kings; in either case an advanced warning that the City will be establishing a unicyclist lane (but for tri-unicyclists abreast) and a lane for religious processions (Dia de los Muertos, Easter, Sukkoth, Eid processions) Cars will be allowed in all lanes, but must travel no more than 2 MPH. Pedestrians must walk at least 6 MPH. The ominous facade of this building will be a reminder to buckle up because fast moving pedestrians may be killed by slow moving cars. The window treatments impart a sad, heavy-lidded outlook on the street. If you look closely, you may see a tear streaming down from one of the windows (or is that a water leak?).

  4. Posted by futurist

    Thank you Planning Commission for overruling the Planning Dept. Congrats.
    And time to stop hanging on to nostalgia.
    And, I have said many times before; Planning Dept. should NOT have a say in design style, color, details, etc. Their job is to assure that projects adhere to written code regulations regarding zoning, height, density, setbacks, FAR and other defined issues.

  5. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    futurist, you really should watch a few planning commission meetings before you say that. Be careful what you wish for.
    I haven’t been following this particular project, so I can’t speak to what happened here.
    But I’d just like to note, when someone who doesn’t like modernism proposes a project in a more traditional style, the exact same process that you’re saying shouldn’t take place—planning staffers weighing in on design style—takes place so that the applicant has to re-work their project to meet the “design style, color, details, etc.” of the planning commission member(s), but in this case, it’s in a manner you would approve of.
    Usually one or more planning commissioners says “why is the design of this project so backward looking”. And then the word “Disney” being used as an epithet gets thrown around.
    And you know how it usually ends? The complaining commissioner says “I move that the applicant take the project back and work with a member of the Planning Dept to re-work the design so it isn’t so backward looking”. And that’s how we REALLY get so many similar, cookie-cutter projects in South Beach and SOMA (IMHO, obviously).
    You probably wouldn’t object to them interfering in cases like that, now would you? I guess the difference is that in the case I’ve described, you can throw around the word “nostalgia” and hang your rhetorical hat on that.
    If the commission did what you keep talking about, they wouldn’t have a process of stopping project that you and the editor would call overly “nostalgic”.

  6. Posted by sfmichel

    I can’t help but notice the the unicyclists are taking up the entire line… yep, that San Francisco.

  7. Posted by Philip

    My God, what an ugly building regardless of the color. Black does make it worse, though.

  8. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    I doubt that there have been any innovative designs that avoided being called ugly.
    I’m all for risking “ugly” if it means avoiding bland. So long as the building functions well and fits the neighborhood height/bulk/parking/etc. parameters, let the developer and their customers decide on aesthetics.
    If a fuchsia and lime green paint scheme sells, so be it. Lets have some fun.

  9. Posted by : : : : :

    No interesting architecture has ever been the result of a renter’s objections, however incensed. Mouth, meet money. No? OK then.

  10. Posted by lol

    sfmichel,
    Cyclists are allowed to use the full lane if there are no dedicated bike lanes.

  11. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    Hey string-of-colons: actually, I was describing previous projects that have been presented or proposed to the planning commission by applicants that DID have the money and ownership of land, not my personal experience.
    But don’t let your lack of reading comprehension stop you from posting the juvenile ad hominem attacks.

  12. Posted by Turin

    Glad they overruled the Planning Department. Looks much better to me in black. The description of the tiles sounds very promising for making an interesting corner.

  13. Posted by redseca2

    I am not sure which color system I prefer, except that the black makes a better rendering.
    But I am sure those windows on the Gough Street side (that must be less than 18-inches wide) look more appropriate for a jail than a new housing in not so sunny SF.

  14. Posted by Alai

    The fact that practically 100% of the ground floor frontage has some active use going on makes up for any problems above.

  15. Posted by futurist

    @ Brahma: you perhaps assume too much about me.
    Yes, I like and prefer modernism over more traditional and “fake” historical new buildings, even calling them nostalgic.
    Key word is I PREFER.
    But I do support an owner/developer/architect their “right” to design in whatever style they choose.
    What I object to is the Planning Commission getting involved in design/color/form/esthetic decisions on EITHER type of design expression.
    Just to clear up this issue.

  16. Posted by redseca2

    No, I was thinking of the black tile as a brialliant diversionary tactic to focus the planning review on the finish color instead of the tiny windows. When it gets VE’ed to plaster you will see what I mean, a big box with tiny windows.

  17. Posted by jlasf

    Actually, what I don’t understand is the interior. Aren’t the rooms in the building going to be dark with odd-shaped, narrow windows?
    Why would anyone want to live in that?

  18. Posted by BobN

    A lot of apartment buildings in the area have similar large-window/small-window patterns, especially those buildings built in the 30s and 40s. The small windows are bathrooms and sometimes kitchens.
    Might not be the case here, of course. I haven’t looked at floor plans. Plus bathrooms often don’t have windows anymore.

  19. Posted by around1905

    They are going to regret that color, especially since it will be baked into the tilework.
    With neutral, light-colored buildlings all around, a black one reads as a rotten tooth in a hillbilly’s smile.

  20. Posted by sf

    “With neutral, light-colored buildlings all around, a black one reads as a rotten tooth in a hillbilly’s smile.”
    Then I guess you would agree that city hall’s dome is a rotten tooth?

  21. Posted by futurist

    Or this deep ebony of a building can be seen as a beautiful black bow tie with a white tuxedo.

  22. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Nice poetic response futurist.
    People project what they want to see into the real view. A negative attitude sees a gap in a row of teeth.

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