Sunday, August 05, 2018

The sweet smell of San Francisco in 1961

Illustration of historic Ghirardelli location
The Ghirardelli Chocolate Company

From The New Yorker:

...Around 1962, when offers started coming for the land surrounding the former factories of the Ghirardelli chocolate company, a potential buyer proposed a design for a sleek high-rise complex. The proposal horrified some people, and the family of a local shipping scion, William M. Roth, was persuaded to buy the plot instead. Rather than simply hiring an architect, Roth solicited ideas from real-estate brokers, landscape architects, and preservationists. 

He commissioned one architecture firm to draw up a plan for Ghirardelli Square, and then, like a movie producer polishing a screenplay, called in others to do subsequent drafts of buildings. Everybody’s style became a little cramped. 

And yet the messy pluralism forced differently minded people to work through one another’s sensibilities. [Alison] Isenberg sees similar approaches in the Embarcadero Center (a multilevel commercial complex, monolithic at first but customized through collaboration with its tenants) and the Crown Zellerbach Building (the city’s first International Style tower, with a garden below)...Private Dreams and Public Ideals in San FranciscoNathan Heller.

Rob's comment:
When I was 19, my first apartment in San Francisco in 1961 was on the northern end of Polk Street, near the still functioning Ghirardelli Chocolate Company. I was so pleased that the whole neighborhood smelled like chocolate!

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