Friday, August 29, 2008

Upkeep, and intentions

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 plays a special part of the site design

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.

Courtyards and views @ Parkmerced

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.

Images of the landscape

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.

Painting a canvas (color theory 101)

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.

SFSU Students must be back in town... Trash/Graffiti and...

The empty parking areas, the quiet strolls will be ended soon. SFSU is back in session. Again the increase is quite notable, in the number of students moving into parkmerced. The trash bins overflow with waste, boxes, ikea catalogs, and general excess. SFSU was to embark on more of a concerted effort on sustainable and shared materials, or a resource system but this never materialized in time for the fall schedule. Furniture begins to litter areas, as move-ins typically dont "measure" their units, and are forced to "abandon" furniture, or make a new purchase and dump in adjoining areas. A couple young ladies, recent move-ins, decorate their entry way with chalk symbolizing their new found freedom, and accessorizing the entry to encourage others to drop in and party. We do hope they are open to all visitors, as this is a "neighborhood" and of course its always nice to invite your adjoining neighbors a shared BBQ or evening soiree is fine, and not just invite half the SFSU campus for keggers. Will have to wait and see how the Party situation on site, occurs this year, as it usually starts slow, but the residents do start complaining quickly when out-of-control parties start to rise in number. Students were not notified of the recent changes in the renter's packets, the increased rent costs for "rennovated" units, nor the issues of construction sites at the library. The UPS blocks also have recent implemented changes like locked laundry room doors, that were prior open allowing pass-through of blocks. Once again the SFSU campus housing group ignores community. It is obvious when you walk the blocks that they are not maintaining units. Some areas look visually distressed due to non-maintenance and some areas are a serious hazard. The university corporation could be easily sued due to the lack of proper housing maintenance on the UPS and UPN blocks. We have sent notice of these issues to J.Porth of the relations PR dept. to SFSU.

Landscape(s) Planting(s) and "upgrade(s)"

I find the upgrade business to be very "entertaining". When you see the rush to plant, to make, to do, (sim. to a home depot fashion mall) the effort is seen to make changes and not review the selections. The front entry ways of the towers have been "improved" by entry glass canopies. The tops of which already are "dirty" and the lighting of which is questionable in quantity since this is a supposed "sustainable" change. The plantings selected are "birch" and "grasses" that tend to be allergy plants. The plants themselves already show the ability to accumulate "trash" and are low maintenance to help in reducing our energy use, and water use on site. The grass today on site in the middle of a hot morning was being watered (tends to burn the grass and waste water) so why we are "replanting" seems questinable when the installed water system "the cadillac" of water control systems was never installed correctly or operated efficiently on site. Than you have the images of the new tree planted where once a majestic cypress tree stood. The other image shows the size of the meadow cypress trees. The new one a stick, that will take years to reach full maturity. What is interesting is that typically in urban forrestry replacement trees, you pick a sim. style or type, and one that is significantly "started" and of a larger root ball, possible a quick growing tree to also help in retaining the canopy lost. Again not the case and the urgency as shown was to remove the prior tree and planter, (once again a question of integrity) as they have not replaced the conc. box planter/seat, and instead have moved onto other projects on site. The usual effort of parkmerced is to fix quick, and not "back-check" the prior effort to ensure it is doing well. In a similar vein the tower painting a quick one-coat install shows bleed through on painted towers. So my guess is that they will be coming back through for another coat soon. The generator's in the landscape I noted in a previous post, already have been "enlarged" for plantings around the units, and tall black stacks now protrude from the tops (exhaust). Its so nice to have a landscape design interrupted by such boxes. Regardless of the emergency use and improvement to the towers, these boxes could have been sunken underground, or placed within the tower basements through alternative methods that may cost more, but would not impact visually the landscape as much.