Monday, November 17, 2008
Enjoyable, fall day, sunny skies, open space, and wonderfull lighting of the buildings and landscaped areas. The enjoyment does not come from the construction, the rennovations, or the consistent efforts to "change" parkmerced. It comes from the basic premise that well designed spaces and communities engender communal and shared respect of the spaces. Its obvious when you walk the site, what areas are cared for, what areas are neglected, and what areas "belong" to people, renter's, seniors, students, and families.
This photo represents the most recent attempts to ruin a modern development, in the recent front door change of a unit along crespi drive, noted and used currently by management as the "show-unit" for parkmerced. They have gone in removing all the interior doors, and replaced them with "home-depot" specials, along with tacky, half-window palladian lights on the front door, and large shiny brass hardware. The installation of such non-fitting design highlights the non-appreciation of the developer and rennovation team with the current physical design and simplicity of the existing doors and units. This typical effort to ruin parkmerced, prior to any adequate historical resources review, and state protection per the preservation laws deems the owners "un-worthy" of the ownership of such a parcel. I immediately sent an email to the owners representatives asking why such a door was installed, they are currently researching "why this occured" and have yet to formally respond to such a blatant negligent act of architectural abomination.
Wednesday, October 8, 2008
Was wandering the site again, and taking odd photos and found some interesting inner courtyards that had smaller curvelinear designs, assymetric layouts, and full mature plantings in the block shared areas. A tribute to the creativity of the designers who had variation at every location.
The Planning department has begun the discussion along with the supervisor on the western neighborhoods and possible developments and impacts. Please send your issues to the Supervisors, Planners, and elected officials, as this will be on the agenda soon enough. The Oct. 2nd planning dept. meeting discussed the upcoming issue of traffic impacts, though no mention of rental housing impacts or possible destruction of historical resouces has been mentioned. The SFGTV link on the www.sfgov.org website allows you to flip to the 19th ave. item, and comment. With the implementation of the eastern neighborhoods and a total disregard for the General Housing Element and imbalance of rental and "market" rate development in SF, there is a definitive need for new and creative development that is similar in scale and size to parkmerced. The developers and private interests along with the mayor's office will assuredly make this a "beauty paegant project" and Transit oriented development emphasizing "sustainability" and green. But the real effects, and focus on a highly green and sustainable original development and the loss of its character and integrity is what is at risk.
Thursday, September 18, 2008
Wonderfull wood detailing on the entry areas often are missed by people who live here, I asked a student who was sitting on his porch if he new what the design motif was? No idea, I asked him if he knew thomas dolliver church, no idea...I asked if he liked the detail, yep... Another space on the side of units, open for intent and use, is there for the taking. A pair of chairs, a card-table, shade on a sunny day. Spaces like this small un-owned except for the community that misses its true nature as shared community ammenity. And of course I find more "stumps" older cut down areas, looking over the maintenance yard I see the "parkmerced ad rv" which I wonder deeply how many replanted trees this vehicle could have planted on site, and restored the image, and cut landscape. Why talk to people who dont appreciate, and whose lives revolve around dollars and cents....
A nicer image of a planter box on arballo, than a view of a painted stepped planter. The stairs go up, to a prior "sun-deck" space, since closed and fenced off, part of it is peeled back enough for some adventurous students or kids, to climb up and find a little smoking corner. The idea of this being re-used or utilized and refurbished by the owner seems out of the question due to liability. But the add of a proper rail, and use as a sun-deck, view spot, and even a shared community garden area for residents of arballo may provide rejuvenation for an underused unmaintained space.
Parkmerced's ongoing "plastering" of the site, includes the shown trim, cornice, and corner board vertical shown on block 37 "private arballo" which was the high end area of parkmerced due to assigned parking on the smaller loop road. These units are larger, and have views or private patio spaces. The front yard on two units was "re-planted" with drought resistant plantings. (typically they collect garbage) and the trim leads across the header of the door on one photo and dies. All things applied, plastered, added, thought as to its effects, besides profit, not many other motives.
I watched intently as the owners did the additions, trim, and accessorizing of the units. I watched as tons of materials went into plastering pre-manufactured off-site window frames, and caulk tubes get used up kitschifying and dollhousing the buildings on site. (Originally I protested to the SF board of Appeals on this, they responded that it was only "minor" alterations when there were only 3 permits and over 30 units being "worked-on" as a "mock-up" for the rest of the neighborhoods. The trim, on these windows due to construction of base units on gonzalez, are ill fitted, and look terrible on closer inspection. They added cornices, corner bands, and shutters that appear "tacked-on" and are against the minimal, and modern intentions of the original colonial modernism of the site. Visually the bottom sills appear to break through the tacked on trim, demanding that they remain in the fore-front.
Friday, August 29, 2008
Carefully look at the tower recently painted, lines of patching, a thin added final coat, a quick finish, an obvious need for a second layer. The effort is meaningfull, but the execution questionable, and the intent is what we worry about most. Is it for a quick re-sale? Is the work to just push onward with the "new"? The meadow area shown had a huge tree that toppled back in 2006 approx. during a storm. Tenants checked it out, and the following week the tree was removed. The grass replanted. The tree never replaced. What is the owner's intentions, if not to profiteer? If profit is taken out of the equation, why does the emphasis remain on removing trees, and not replacing the dead or removed stumps? We had a courtyard tree removed over a month ago, no effort on removing the stump, no reason why the tree needed to be removed, no replacement tree. Just the Lorax standing on a stump, demanding to know why that tree was removed? Perhaps the Parkmerced Investor's LLP should tour the site, and see what there efforts are improving and what items they should themselves question?......
Sunlight does wonders for parkmerced, not only does the morning and afternoon become great places for people to walk, sit, play, but the sun provides great imagery, on the buildings, trees, and avenues. The mold and mildew is often held back by the sunlight able to get between buildings. The SFSU campus had legal issues related to densifying the campus, which promoted more mold growth. To build dense and tall in this neighborhood would promote health issues with mold growth. To provide low-scaled architecture that allows in the radial street design to bring sunlight in on the majority of faces of the buildings improves the sunlights work on the plants, and units. Kids play with their parents on a newly "rennovated" playground. We had pushed for involvement and joint effort on this, parkmerced management ignored us on this issue, selecting equipment that is small, and un-eventfull for children. Already parents question the selections, a lack of decent swings, merry-go-rounds, a sandbox, or other ammenties that would add to the bleak nature of the playscapes installed. The simple seating and areas built by the original design would be highly used if only the maintenance and improvements were co-sponsored and integrated with the original design. A group of students BBQ'd this last week adjacent to the 405 Serrano tower, a large gathering, an enjoyable afternoon, they brought in metal chairs, and did not use the simple low planter walls. Perhaps they were ignorant of the original design intent. Perhaps a simple installed BBQ area would improve the use? Well we do know towers are planned on both empty spaces per the Parkmerced "vision". This will eliminate any enjoyment in the sunny ends of days we witness here in these images.
Some courtyard views like the one shown here in sunset, will be blocked by larger rise buildings proposed by the developers. The simple rectangular courts, with large trees, providing shade and open space for play and community use will be eliminated. The larger trees that were planted back at the golf-course development, or prior, will be gone. These trees already show wear, due to topping, and cutting of the inner portions of the trees, making them side or edge heavy. This speeds their destruction. Another courtyard has a wonderfull tree, the side planters barren due to improper irrigation, the courtyard dryer rack posts and lines eliminated, the only new implementation is the security wiring, or electrical lines for com-cast. Meanwhile a bike sits, with junk now accumulating. This is a space for use, for community, through lack of maintenance it becomes fodder for developers to redo areas. Only through community effort can spaces like this thrive. The progression from maintained to unmaintained to maintained leads through these three courts. The last one it has been noted that 2-3 new families or renter's have moved here adjacent to the saturday farmers market. Perhaps with effort and focused improvements that do not destroy, Parkmerced would be full again with SF citizens, families, seniors, students, and revitalize itself and the pocket books of the owners. But time is needed, and parkmerced does not seem to have time on its side.
Some views of landscaped areas along serrano, crespi, and the western edge of the site off arballo. The courtyards, to be eliminated, the trees, eliminated, and the lowscaled open space engulfed on crespi with 225,000 s.f. of retail and transit. Some people living here now will not be here in the future. But what happens to the ideas of this complex. The importance of creating enough stock of rental housing to support methods of ownership beyond purchase and "for-sale" housing. The city to date has not implemented its share of rental affordable units. The SF general plan is consistently ignored and the city is negligent for its actions.
Images and color-theory for parkmerced. With the new painting of the towers, they do start looking more austere, and sharp in contrast. The whiter neutral colors help the towers to stand solidly as images of a modern complex. We throw in here an image of the landscape which shows why the nature pushes to the forefront with a neutral and light background. The plants have a natural darker tone. The two images of blocks repainted and "accessorized" show the poor selection of colors, the windows and entry features are now emphasized. Some tenants (un-educated in color theory) find the marketing tactics, and varied color schemes to be enjoyable. The added trim work crowds the prior flat and plain buildings, the over-emphasis on tacked on materials and board panels, water table trim and accessorized openings does not add to the charm, it over-amplifies it.. Thus the term "Kitsch" in german "over-done"... The new lights are a consistent add and have been popping up throughout again, along with new mailbox openings, it seems the owners want to try the craftsman style, with the light selections, and the nautical ones. Again taking accent to the extreme. I would have preferred they attempted a straightforward rennovation, in line with State Dept. of Interior Standards on rennovations, abiding by preservation rules, and trying to improve the look without the accessories. Recent articles on similar efforts on east coast properties owned by stellar management begin to question intent, and the eventual proposed "tear-down" of the lower units questions further "sustainablity" and intent for all the money being placed into the "rennovations" and newness of parkmerced.