Originally Posted by markermiller
I completely agree. The reason it LOOKS like it's trying not to offend anyone is because that's exactly what comes out of San Francisco's overly-democratized planning process. Over the years I've come to realize that the worst-of-the-worst designs that get wrung through our 'process' are those with a 'mandate' to 'fit-in' with an old beloved classic. Witness the piece of trash immediately behind the Sentinel Building at Columbus & Kearny, which breaks my heart every time I pass by and imagine the alternatives that could have been built on this great, front-row property. Or the Market Street frontage of 33 New Montgomery - the infamous Boudin’s Café frame (which, speaking of modern ‘cornices’, boasts one of the most ridiculous ‘solutions’ imaginable). Look at 456 Montgomery (the silver box Wells Fargo built in ’83, which blocked the great street wall view up Montgomery to the TA Pyramid), or the Citicorp highrise at Sutter & Sansome, or the (now) old Bank of California building at California & Sansome.
All these –and many more- saved a much loved original structure (or at least some of it!), but at what cost? They could have been fantastic, innovative and inspiring projects –if only the city would have allowed them the ‘air space’, and then more-or-less stayed out of the way! Our ‘mandate’ should simply be: “save the old beauty; then dazzle us!”
Yikes... my first post here turned into quite a little rant!
I second northbay420's welcoming you to SSP and thank you for a well reasoned and documented first post!
I unexpectedly happened to end up on the 12th floor of a building downtown today that afforded an excellent view of this project and had time to reflect upon what Frisco_Zig had written in response to my post, which I agreed with completely. You carried it several steps further and listed numerous examples, both "ancient" and recent that have bothered me. In short, you succinctly stated the problem and the solution. "Save the old beauty--then dazzle us" is a most appropriate slogan for San Francisco. We have only to look at the recent Transbay tower competition to see yet again that the least offensive design was selected; it's so ironic that it was the one to have the big bucks behind it. Perhaps that's why I like the new Federal Building, despite its flaws.
I think that we have to be careful not to prostitute ourselves just for the sake of wanting to see new construction or a higher skyline. I've seen many posts on SSP that seemed to do just that, attempting to justify mundane projects. Thankfully, we do have several good ones going up now, but we can never afford to forget our past mistakes such as ones that you have mentioned.
There's my little diatribe to respond to your first rant!