San Francisco Architecture Gets a Dark Makeover

Househappy —  February 3, 2014 — Leave a comment

From a 37-story apartment tower on Market Street to a 6-story condominium building in Dogpatch, it is clear that black is becoming one of the latest trends in San Francisco architecture.

“When a single black structure pops out from a corner or in the middle of a block, the contrast can give an energetic jolt to a familiar scene,” writes John King of the San Francisco Chronicle. “But as more owners and architects use dark cloaks to look sharp, there’s a very real danger that the eye-catching exception could spread across some districts like an oil spill.”

For many San Francisco residents, maintaining the aesthetics of a city “renowned for crisp light and soft fog” has long been a priority. In 1971, the Urban Design Plan stated that new buildings should “avoid extreme contrasts in color;” and the Downtown Plan of 1985 maintained that “disharmonious colors or building materials should be avoided. Buildings should be light in color.” But despite their best efforts, shades of onyx and charcoal are popping up on everything from downtown office buildings to single family homes in residential neighborhoods.

Even architects who have used the trend in their own designs are unsure of the long-term effects on the city’s over-all look.

“Old San Francisco is a white Mediterranean city,” said Stanley Saitowitz, the architect responsible for a new 6-story condominium on 20th St. painted a rich charcoal. “Black’s definitely the new color, but my feeling now is that it really doesn’t fit too well with the light.”

Like most trends, the feeling seems to be: “less is more.” In context, black paint can highlight a building’s structure or provide necessary visual balance to a bold neighboring edifice; however, if black continues to be in vogue, many people fear that the trend is in danger of changing the face of San Francisco as we know it.

This article can be found in its original form at SFGate.

Images: San Francisco Chronicle



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