Sunday, June 15, 2008

San Francisco in the media

Jed Perl in The New Republic:

From Los Angeles I went up to San Francisco, and it is more or less the same story. Everybody rushes to the Museum of Modern Art and the De Young, two overblown buildings with sporadically important collections, while the most beautiful museum in the city---the Legion of Honor, in which masterpieces by Watteau, Le Nain, and Seurat have been given a thrillingly elegant installation---is hardly ever mentioned.

The usually reliable Christopher Hitchens misses the mark in Vanity Fair:

In San Francisco in 1972, the opening of the Transamerica Pyramid (or maybe one should call it a narrowed and elevated polyhedron) was subjected to howls of outrage. This was partly because an earthquake-prone city was dubious about 853-foot edifices, partly because the building itself was neither here nor there architecturally and constituted a bit of a monstrosity, but most of all because it directly abutted the discreet, diverse, cluttered streets of North Beach and Chinatown and loomed annoyingly where no looming was needed. Once again, the appalling erection of a series of cigarette-box buildings along the San Francisco waterfront has made the Transamerica tower seem full of character and style by comparison, and once again, it’s widely if not universally agreed that nobody starting now would put that building in that part of town. The lesson has been learned. Why can’t Manhattan, the special island of coexistence between high-rise and low-rise, get this most obvious point?

Rob's comment:
Exactly what "lesson has been learned" by San Francisco? That highrises anywhere near North Beach are unacceptable? Supervisor Peskin likes highrises, as long as they aren't in North Beach, which happens to be where he lives. He and Supervisor Daly---and of course Supervisor Mirkarimi---think they're just fine South of Market on Rincon Hill and at Market and Van Ness, where the city wants to put four 40-story highrises as part of the Market/Octavia Plan, not to mention the 100-story building planned for the new downtown terminal. The anti-highrise battle in SF of a previous generation was waged against office buildings, but residential highrises are presumably okay now because---have you heard?---We Need Housing.

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