Changing historic facade a bad idea

By sfexaminer -excerpt

A recent David Binder poll shows only 36 percent of San Franciscans have confidence in the Planning Department. So no one had any reason to be surprised when the Planning Commission snubbed residents, architectural historians and members of the labor community recently by supporting the Commonwealth Club’s plans to remove the historic facade on their future headquarters building at 110 The Embarcadero and replace it with a modern glass wall.

It seems like a perfect match — a distinguished 100-year-old institution in an historic 100-year-old building with a dignified and historic facade. Yet for some unexplained reason, the Planning Department has advised the club to rip off the highly visible facade and go modern. This is clearly in violation of city policy making the protection of neighborhood character and the preservation of historic buildings priorities… (more)

None of the planning commissioners bothered to ask planning staff why it made such a recommendation. There are no modern glass-curtain walls like the one they propose anywhere on the waterfront in sight of the building. The block is one of the last that consists primarily of dignified early-20th-century buildings including the original YMCA facade. Most were built after 1906 and one predates the earthquake. Most world-class cities protect collections of waterfront buildings such as this…

No wonder so much new construction is bland and uninspiring. The idea of a beauty contest to help ensure creative building designs has been totally forgotten. The policy that South of Market buildings should be dignified and in keeping with tradition has slipped away as well…

Bottom line, the modern glass wall is inexplicable and the Commonwealth Club appears to be getting special treatment, so the matter now goes on to the Board of Supervisors where, hopefully, the right thing will be done. This kind of activity is why citizens lose faith in their government.

Dave Osgood is president of the Rincon Point Neighbors Association, which reviews developments on the waterfront between the Ferry Building and Bay Bridge...(more)

Where are the folks who are protecting the waterfront? We fought 8 Washington and the Wall on the Waterfront in North Beach.  We need help now.

 

 

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