• Champions of the Bay Area Heroic

    I grew up in San Francisco in a building designed by Julia Morgan, one of the earliest and most influential architects of the Bay Region style. (The building happened to be the San Francisco Zen Center.) So it may seem surprising that two of my biggest architectural heroes are Mario Ciampi and Paffard Keatinge-Clay, designers of concrete buildings in the style commonly labeled “Brutalist.”


  • Preserving Modest Moderns

    After more than half a century of use, many midcentury modern buildings have undergone a lot of wear and tear. They may no longer meet current seismic codes or community needs. With the great treasures of midcentury modernism, our impulse is to preserve these structures; however, the decision of whether to restore, reconfigure or tear down and replace, must be made on a case-by-case basis. Not every piece of midcentury modernism is notable enough to be saved. Just because it’s modern doesn’t mean it’s good—or bad.


  • Community Museums

    Ever since the words “Bilbao effect” entered the lexicon, museums have been competing in a game of architectural ingenuity or ‘newness’. While there is value in striking design, the search for the “wow factor” can lead museums away from their mission to connect to the public.


  • Freeway Fragment

    Twenty-four years ago, the Loma Prieta earthquake damaged San Francisco’s Embarcadero Freeway substantially enough to force its closure. There was a lot of debate then about the pros and cons of repairing versus demolishing it.


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