“As long as you don’t look up, the restoration of San Francisco’s de Young Building is the architectural feel-good story of the year.
Eleven stories of ruddy sandstone and brick command the corner of Kearny and Market streets every bit as robustly as they did in 1890, when the building that then housed The Chronicle opened as the tallest tower on the West Coast. You’d never guess that for 40 years the walls were hidden behind drab metal panels with a pseudo-modern look.
Unfortunately, the story doesn’t end with a dowager’s face-lift. To finance the rebirth, city officials let the developer put a tower in back. And that addition is so uninspired it almost undoes the good work below.”