CFAH

940 Grove in 2010 (www.SocketSite.com)

Plugged-in people have long known about the plans and original designs (which have since been revised, see the latest rendering below) for three new construction homes on Steiner behind 940 Grove and down the street from San Francisco’s historic Postcard Row.

802-808 Steiner Rendered

Once again, the proposed project would demolish the non-historic portions to the north of 940 Grove (which would be renovated for single-family use) and build three new four story single-family houses to be known as 802, 804 and 808 Steiner.

Today, San Francisco’s Historic Preservation Commission will review the proposal which the Planning Department recommends for approval on the conditions that the developer “continue to work with Planning Department Preservation staff on the final design details” and “submit samples of all exterior materials to the Planning Department Preservation staff for review and approval prior to the issuance of any architectural addenda.”

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by curmudgeon

    I hope that rendering is intended to show massing, and not the final design details. Because those buildings look butt-ugly as shown.
    [Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, the new rendering above isn’t simply a massing. And yes, we’d still rather see a new “row” of wholly modern design representing the future of San Francisco at this location rather than watered down derivatives of its authentic past.]

  2. Posted by 4oceans

    No kidding. Talk about ruining the neighborhood! Those new houses are like stinking fish compared to the existing community character Victorian girly thing happening down the block.

  3. Posted by DCR

    Yikes – they look like bad 80s infill architecture. I say either contrast and be bold about it, or try and blend with the existing, This is neither (I was hoping for massing studies too).

  4. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    These buildings, as proposed, will never be built.
    Why? See the above comments.
    Unless someone wants to build historically accurate victorians that will seamlessly match the other ‘painted ladies’ there will never be enough consensus to get anything approved and built.
    The builders are better off pulling the floor plans of the victorians next door and proposing to ‘mirror’ the neighbors which would give you eight painted ladies instead of the five.

  5. Posted by sf victorian

    Wow — after all the grief the planning department causes imposing their will and ideas where it isn’t necessarily appropriate, I sure hope they step up on this one and do something — fast!!!!
    In this case, I don’t see anything at all wrong with outright copying of historic facades and details. Perhaps they could look through the archives and find photos of some buildings that were (sadly) leveled by SF Redevelopment. Anything would be an improvement on what is shown!!!
    So, question for SS readers. What is today’s style in SF? Is it watered down Victorian (meaning lets through some bay windows on it and pretend we’re nodding to the past, even though we aren’t capable of designing and building the correct Victorian ornamentation.) Or, is today’s style ultra modern, concrete, steel, glass because we have the technology to do it?
    Or — something else? Ideas? Thoughts?
    Are these buildings obligated to “fit in” to a historic setting, or not? And, what does that mean on this particular block?

  6. Posted by Invented

    Back to the 70s. Cheap, ugly, and ultimately disrespectful to the amazing history and architecture of the park and ‘hood — an insult to all of us residents. Wholly depressing.
    Ignore my comments if this is just a massing schematic.

  7. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    of course, any contractor will tell you that building something in that location that “seamlessly match[es] the other ‘painted ladies'” is “economically infeasible”, which is another way of saying that the builder can’t easily realize their desired profit margin on the project.
    Haven’t been following this as it winds it’s way through to approval, but I’d bet that the applicant has already used that phrase at least twice in a public hearing.

  8. Posted by Faboo

    The previous renderings were way better. How did they get here? Implementation of the Planning Commission’s and Planning Dept’s recommendations?

  9. Posted by sf victorian

    That is nonsense about not being able to afford a decent looking facade. I’ve restored many Victorians in SF over the last 20 years that had been stripped of all their ornament and covered with asbestos shingles/siding. While there is no question it costs more than throwing stucco on the front, in this location it should bring a good return on the investment.
    It is all about design and proportion and understanding what makes a facade look good. This, unfortunately, is an art that seems to have vanished.

  10. Posted by sfrenegade

    Even a Faketorian would be better. The tourists would never know, unless they’re architects.

  11. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    sf victorian, I totally agree with you that it’s possible, in fact we’ve seen many examples of what you’re talking about on socketsite over the course of just the last year.
    I’m just guessing based on what was proposed (yes, even the previous proposal) that the builders are trying to take the path of what-they-think-will-produce-the-lowest-project-cost approach. It’s up to the HPC to recover the ball on this play now.

  12. Posted by justme

    Wow. Fugly.
    Aggressively mediocre. These look more like part of a Residence Inn in Tracy than something a block away from one of the most photographed rows of houses in the country.
    I’d probably weep at what Saitowitz would put there, but frankly, tenements would be a step up from this.

  13. Posted by badlydrawnbear

    FYI – I am not trying to imply that building ‘fake’ victorians to match the neighbors is a bad ideo or economically prohibitive.
    I was just suggesting that was the only way new construction on the site would eve get approved.
    I will say I take issue with the idea “… in this location it should bring a good return on the investment.” Any potential buyer must not only be able to afford a mutlimillion dollar SFH they also must want to live in one of the visited and photographed spots in SF.
    Since one of the painted ladies has been on the market for sometime now and has had to drop it’s price I believe, I wouldn’t be to confident that this location will provide a ‘good return’ for the builder. I am not saying it’s impossible but I suspect it would be much more challenging then one would assume at first glance.

  14. Posted by Denis

    I know planning code essentially forbids the recreation of historical homes, but can’t the commission make an exception here? This is just heinously bad.

  15. Posted by ricker

    look at the planning packet (which includes detailed elevation drawings and proposed materials) — unfortunately the rendering is representative of the actual developed design, not a massing study.
    “aggressively mediocre” is right.
    planning staff is hitting a new low with this recommendation.

  16. Posted by TPM

    Who are these budget architects working in this city?

  17. Posted by rdh

    Re – creation of history belongs in museums and amusement parks and I suppose fake antique shops. Something new, even painstakingly recreating something old, will always look one-off, and insults the original. The original victorians were contractor / developer projects when built, and speak to us of their time. Will mediocre half measures of copying history speak of ours? Or will a contemporary, and technological expression, sensitive to massing and scale of it historic context speak of this particular moment in time?

  18. Posted by ph_goat

    Blandtastic!
    How embarrassing for all involved.

  19. Posted by lolcat_94123

    I wonder if living across the street from the park and staring at your own house when there makes it more or less enjoyable. Such a great place to chill on a hot, sunny day.

  20. Posted by noearch

    Here’s what’s major wrong with “copying” Victorian facades in 2011:
    New buildings should reflect their place and time in history, just as the Victorians did when built around the turn of the last century. If built now with a fake Victorian facade, these new houses would only reflect a kind of “Disneyland” main street utter falsehood. In a way they would also mock the original, authentic adjacent buildings.
    The appropriate solution, even as defined in the Planning Code and Design Guidelines would be to design contemporary, modern facades, with quality materials, fenestration and detailing that reflect the time and place of 2011.

  21. Posted by sparky-b

    “Ornamentation The buildings would be clearly differentiated from the historic buildings by employing
    less sculptural articulation in ornamentation and modern patterns of siding and stone coursing.”
    It’s not the builder/developer this is what the Planning Department wants these places to look like.

  22. Posted by Joe

    Agree with all previous.
    Would like to point how telling it is that San Francisco style of 2011 is indeed about copying the past.
    You see this everywhere in the city. The overwhelming consensus is backward looking – our best days were behind us. Very sad.

  23. Posted by sf

    A more disgusting display of neighborhood NIMBYISM I have not yet seen until now. Shame. Shame. Shame. Where do I go to voice my complaint?

  24. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    Denis wrote:

    I know planning code essentially forbids the recreation of historical homes…

    I can’t find the link right now, but I don’t think that it does. As I wrote above, several homes featured on socketsite are new, old-style homes, such as 3664 22nd Street, to just cite one example that comes to mind.
    If I recall correctly, what it does is force the developer of a completely new old-style house to delineate clearly the new construction from any historically-important existing construction. If I find it, I’ll post it in a comment later.

  25. Posted by Michael E

    Screw the bland! Make a good historic try to mimic the Victorians (preferable here) or go big with something very contemporary. Otherwise go home. This spot deserves good design – past or current!

  26. Posted by BobN

    Yikes! Worse than expected. Much worse.
    And how pathetic that the developer, in order to appease fill-in-the-blank, also made them so short. Look at the roof lines up and down the block. It’s ridiculous. Short, squat, ugly.

  27. Posted by stucco-sux

    If planning people actually had taste, instead of silly “social training” in all the latest bunk about density and transit 1st, maybe stuff like this and pretty much everything else they approve wouldn’t happen.
    Its just amazing how brain dead the Planning people are. Unless its taking away parking spaces. They are very very very good at that.

  28. Posted by sparky-b

    BobN,
    The fill-in-th-blank would be the Planning Department, again. Note that in the brief it describes how keeping them short than the existing historic house is part of the approval. So, the person they are trying to appease is the person who decides whether or not you get to build anything, what do you expect them to do?

  29. Posted by citicritter

    What is represented in these renderings is simply not Architecture by any stretch of the imagination, but rather generic simulation of the past, a pile of quasi-historical mediocrity.
    As ranted about here on SocketSite many times before, there are any number of great recent examples in cities all over Europe of well-done completely contemporary architecture happily contrasting adjacent (arguably much more substantial than here) actual historical building fabric. Why must SF accept such banal mediocrity?

  30. Posted by sparky-b

    you’re saying why should SF accept, when it’s really why does SF DEMAND this?

  31. Posted by justme

    to design contemporary, modern facades, with quality materials, fenestration and detailing that reflect the time and place of 2011.

    Reflecting the time and place of 1983, on the other hand, is simply wrong from any standpoint.
    Not to mention that, if they’re skimping on the architecture to the point of letting someone’s twelve year old nephew bash this drivel out on some low rent CAD program, I’m not convinced that the materials, etc. are going to be of anything but the lowest quality they can get away with.
    Come on. This is your profession. Looking at that doesn’t make you wince?

  32. Posted by sparky-b

    2935 Pacific was pretty well recieved on SS:
    https://socketsite.com/archives/2009/09/2935_pacific_nine_years_including_six_of_construction_i.html
    If the architect is someones 12year old nephew, then he was an infant when he started on that one. You have to admit it is nice work for a baby.

  33. Posted by BobN

    Sparky-b,
    The report says:
    Form & Massing: The proposed heights of the new buildings are in keeping with the predominant heights on the block.”
    Clearly they are not.

  34. Posted by sparky-b

    “Furthermore, the buildings would be more than a half-story shorter than the historic building at 940 Grove Street, preserving its dominant presence on this iconic corner of the Alamo Square Historic District. The volume and scale of the three new buildings are appropriate and comparable to those found on the block and within the district.”
    Why skip the next line if you’re quoting from the report?
    They want the houses lower than the historic one. You may think they aren’t the right height, I might not, everyone but the planning department might think they should be taller. But sadly the rest of us don’t have an approved stamp.

  35. Posted by BobN

    “The lowering of the yards and a proposed garage planned for the adjacent property to the east at 930 Grove Street…”
    Oh, ick.

  36. Posted by BobN

    “Why skip the next line if you’re quoting from the report?”
    Because, from your previous comment, it was clear you had already read it.
    I understand what they want. I even understand why they want it, though I don’t agree with either the goal or the reason for the goal.
    What I do not like is the purposeful use of disinformation. The heights are not “in keeping” and “comparable”, they are shorter and subordinate. I am not fond of deception, especially from bureaucrats. All is does is foster distrust and cynicism.

  37. Posted by BobN

    “Furthermore, the buildings would be more than a half‐story shorter than the historic building at 940”
    This is an even worse example. By what measure of a story is the new building “a half-story shorter”? It’s shorter by more than a story, whether you measure by the old story of the original building or the new story of the new construction. Why not just say how many feet?

  38. Posted by sparky-b

    BobN I just asked about the quote because we aren’t emailing eachother and without it other readers may think the architect/developer is trying to trick the city (or they may think I am spinning the information). That isn’t the case the planning dept. knows what it’s asking for. This is what they want.

  39. Posted by justme

    2935 Pacific was pretty well recieved on SS:

    2935 is nicely done. These are not. If you’re saying it’s the same architect, I’ll tell you that either A). Same firm, (very) junior associate on this one, B). Traumatic head injury, or C). I guess we know whose nephew got into the crayons.
    Are you saying you think these are of a similar quality? Really?
    I suppose there is a possible D). Architect gave so little a &%$# about the project he went straight to the pre-made templates of said low rent CAD. The lesson, I imagine, is “Don’t try to pay your architect in Monopoly money and expect decent work.”

  40. Posted by noearch

    These are all really great comments, for the most part supporting the notion of “new” work representing the time and place of it’s construction.
    As an architect, it is VERY discouraging to see the Planning Department support this mediocre, suburban crap, representing some of the worst examples I have ever seen of urban infill housing. I have to say, the architect, Louis Felthouse, appears to be responsible for this junk. He does not seem to have a website.
    There are so many other highly talented architects in SF who could design this project to world class contemporary standards.
    One need only go to Amsterdam, Copenhagen, London, or even Paris and see exemplary contemporary buildings inserted into the existing traditional urban fabric. It is possible and appropriate.
    Why is San Francisco Planning Dept. so far behind the curve, and so “constipated” about new architecture that we have to settle for this junk?
    Yes, this one does really piss me off. Such a lost opportunity for great design.

  41. Posted by sparky-b

    I am saying that this architect can do good work, the city is mandating that these look this way. What can he do? Design something that will never get permitted, why? Design something that will look great first get it shot down and then come with this plan later so people on a blog can say it looked better before.
    I noted Pacific because it was a one off property that didn’t have the scrutiny of this location, so more options were available. It was a remodel and not new construction so it had a better chance too, plus it was probably permitted before the HRC came on board.
    Lots of good architects are handcuffed in this town. that’s my point.

  42. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    I agree that infill construction usually is best done with quality contemporary architecture though don’t feel that fauxtorian should be dismissed outright. In the right location it works well so long as it is designed with care and implemented with high quality. Done well it will look convincing under anything less than detailed examination. Disneyland-style fakes however should be lambasted and ridiculed.
    I’m really surprised that the planning code prohibits good quality fauxtorian.

  43. Posted by Sunset Guy

    Stucco and Bay windows this is what we all secretly want and deserve.
    “Never do anything well that you can do blandly”
    S.F. Planning Department
    What can you expect when the meatheads in the planning department are not trained in architecture or design of any sort. They are damn good with report writing and meeting attending but most don’t know squat about design.

  44. Posted by Brahma (incensed renter)

    The Milkshake of Despair wrote:

    I’m really surprised that the planning code prohibits good quality fauxtorian.

    I haven’t seen reference to any section that says that it does. I’d be interested to be proven wrong.
    Clearheart Building & Design does new, high quality Victorians all the time. Every new home does not have to look like it fell out of the pages of Dwell magazine, and thank God for that.

  45. Posted by Buy High Sell Low

    Good luck developing and selling *anything* profitably in that neighborhood these days…

  46. Posted by noearch

    We don’t really know that this architect (Felthouse) can do good work or not. That’s an assumption, and I basically disagree.
    If this project were put in the hands of say Ann Fougeron or Craig Steely or even an international firm such as Snohetta (architects for the new MOMA), you would see very different results.
    Don’t blame the Planning Dept. entirely for the design.
    @MOD: I never want architecture to “look convincing”..that’s a sure sign of pretending to be something it’s not. This is not 1898, and buildings should not look like they were designed then.
    @ Brahma: Yes, Clearheart does produce some richly ornate Victorian facades; my understanding that most of these are “restorations” of older building, but I may be wrong. Their work is quality and richly detailed, but why put that kind of Victorian ornamentation on a new building, and try to pretend it was built in 1898?
    Makes no sense, and that’s what keeps San Francisco from achieving world class architecture like other great cities.

  47. Posted by justme

    I noted Pacific because it was a one off property that didn’t have the scrutiny of this location, so more options were available.

    Yes. Pacific Heights is well known for a complete lack of NIMBYism and neighbors that never try to be controlling. Heck, they’re all too poor to wield any influence anyway.

    It was a remodel and not new construction so it had a better chance too, plus it was probably permitted before the HRC came on board.

    If the linked article is to be believed, it was bought for “lot value”, which sort of implies a teardown or total rework. Otherwise, you’re talking about showing a pre-existing facade as an example of new work. Which is it?

    Lots of good architects are handcuffed in this town. that’s my point.

    Lots of good architects actually do good work in this town. You’re making an awful lot of excuses. This guy wouldn’t happen to be your uncle, would he?

  48. Posted by EH

    I dunno, they look fairly similar to any of the Section 8 housing developments built over the past 20 years. If it’s good enough for my tax dollars it’s good enough for Alamo Square.

  49. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Ironically it is SF’s cache of ornate vics that attracts much of the world’s attention.
    We can accommodate both desires: Preserve historic architecture while building world class contemporary structures. Sadly we’re blowing it big time at the latter. The desire to preserve Victorians is not the culprit, mediocrity is.

  50. Posted by SF

    Que’ll dogs!
    The developer should be ashamed.

  51. Posted by noearch

    To be honest it would help if the commentators made reference to who they may be addressing, with regard to a particular comment.
    @justme: I’m not sure who you are referring to.

  52. Posted by Skirunman

    The floor plans suck as well. Really muddled, master bedroom in wrong location, just very poor layouts IMO. I personally would rather see something modern in facade. No faketorians for me.
    I actually talked to the developer on this project about 4 months ago and he was looking for investors to help bring the project to market. I passed, but the first thing to do is fire the architect and hire someone more competent. This project is likely to be weak without a redesign.

  53. Posted by noearch

    @skirunman: totally agree! terrible floor plans, cheesy facade.
    Terrible addition to Alamo Square.

  54. Posted by sparky-b

    justme,
    I don’t know the guy, and don’t know if much of his work is good or not. I googled the name and a place that was on SS came up. The facade of that place was described like this, “As for the facade, I think it’s elegant; well proportioned, beautiful materials and well built. The monochromatic color tone is perfect and very appropriate,” by noearch. In general it seems like pretty good work, and if that’s true then he can do good work. Therefore it’s not necessarily on him that this isn’t good.
    At Pacific they got a permit to alter the facade, sent around a 311 notice and didn’t have any problem with the neighborhood. It’s not about NIMBYS of various hoods, we don’t know that the neighbors wouldn’t love something different in this area. It doesn’t matter if they would, because planning doesn’t want it. That is what matters.
    It’s all well and good to blame the developers for not making something nice when they have the chance, but you can’t blame them for not building something they weren’t allowed to build.

  55. Posted by noearch

    @sparky-b: still not understanding what YOU are referring to; is this a project I commented on or?
    not following your train of thought, sorry.

  56. Posted by sparky-b

    noearch,
    My point is this. This architect did 2935 Pacific. Generally well recieved, that is your comment above liking the facade (actually in response to me not liking it). If the guy can produce a house like that he could do better, I’m sure he would like to do better here. I’m sure he had pre-submital meeting where he came with more interesting designs. He probably left those meeting (developer in toe) deciding that something like this is what could get built and that they weren’t going to fight a losing battle.
    Now the guy could actually suck for all I know. But it doesn’t matter that much because great architects are handcuffed by what the Planning Department will allow too. The parameters that nobody likes; low height, victorian shape but not victorian, kind of modern with a peaked roof and bay windows, etc. are the marching orders from the department.
    I am sure this is not what they really want to do with these houses. I am sure they thought the original design was going to be worth more money. They are probably pissed they aren’t building bigger for one thing but they are stuck.

  57. Posted by rubber_chicken

    Give the project to NoeArch!
    He seems to know what’s best for the site,
    and apparently has a lot of time on his hands…

  58. Posted by inmybackyard

    These homes, as shown in the rendering, are downright terrible. They look like an 80’s contemporary from the suburbs. Not at all appropriate for this location. It would be a crime to allow these to be built with the current design.

  59. Posted by sfrenegade

    “This architect did 2935 Pacific. Generally well recieved”
    Hopefully this project won’t take 9 years total to finish as well, 6 of which are construction.

  60. Posted by sfrenegade

    “They look like an 80’s contemporary from the suburbs.”
    I’ve noticed more than one person using the S-word here. What suburban place actually looks like this? In my experience, most suburban homes aren’t tall and skinny like this. Is the word “suburban” meant to be a substitute for “crappy, I don’t like it as part of my humble San Francisco tolerance” or is there some suburb full of tall skinny houses like this that I’ve never seen?

  61. Posted by noearch

    My reference to suburban is merely my personal bias toward “mini-Mcmansions”,which this looks like. That’s all.
    @sparky-b: Well, I sorta hear you, but you’re making a number of wild assumptions about what that architect may be capable of doing. It appears he designs in a “traditional” idiom, more than a modernist approach. So, it would seem logical that he could be chosen for this project.
    But, no, I don’t think architects are “handcuffed” by the Planning Dept. Look at the modernist work by Saitowitz, Steely, and others doing modern work. It’s the inherent talent, not the planning dept. who designs. I admit they play a heavy hand in the process, however, perhaps way too much.
    @rubberchicken: sure, I’d like a project like that, but my office is really too small to take on that scale of work. However, I am busy with small projects, and guess what? I can keep SS running while I’ve been drawing in Auto cad and 3d all this afternoon. It’s pretty easy.
    Just to clarify that for you.

  62. Posted by sparky-b

    noearch, would Saitowitz or Steely be able to do a great modernist prokect in this location, with a lot tied to a historic resource? I guess that’s the questions, could either of those guy get a better project done here?
    Yes I am making assumptions with what can be done, but I have been told some of these exact things by planning so I know how pre-submittal meetings CAN go.

  63. Posted by EH

    i think it would be hilarious if this was a gambit to avoid DR hell by causing the neighborhood to demand MORE of the construction rather than less.

  64. Posted by justme

    @justme: I’m not sure who you are referring to.

    I try to blockquote anything I reply to. That shows up as indentation on this site. It’s a bit more obvious elsewhere.

  65. Posted by df

    One more hand up for “awful”.

  66. Posted by David

    GROSS!!! These homes would look better in Detroit ( perhaps!)

  67. Posted by noearch

    @sparky-b:
    I do think a firm like Saitowitz, or Steely, as just two examples could be successful at this location with this type of project. It would take a great deal of design process, 3d renderings, etc. to show the modernist work in that context, but entirely possible.
    Right now a new Craig Steely home is being built in Dolores Heights on Sanchez St. in a very “historic” district. The house is essentially all glass and steel, very nice, modern, simple and elegant. I think many of the neighbors support it.

  68. Posted by invented

    Saitowitz would be brilliant in this location; something which nods to the area’s form, but is not a tiring cuteys derivative Vic. This location needs something brilliant forward-looking, surprising. A no more perfect location to infuse edgy modern, glass, light. San Francisco — wake up!

  69. Posted by lol

    Please spare us from these great theoretical architects. Their buildings will wow us for five years then will be hated from years 5 to year 80, if their pieces of unmaintainable glass and metal make it to year 40.

  70. Posted by sparky-b

    Well look at the place next to 4001 20th. I don’t think the parameters are the same; it was an empty lot, a single family house, the libery hill design committee was already behind it, the HRC wasn’t involved making the planning department write up it wanted.
    On that place Steely dealt with Michael Smith, apparently made a few changes and off you go.
    Now on to a different topic and that is Steely gets his work panned on here too, so does Saitowitz. I know we are just picking 2 guys for this exercise but what if steely did some of his work on 16th street or Beaver street at this location. I think we would here something like this:
    “Atrocious.
    Cheap, dated feel throughout (sliding mirror closet doors? From the 80s?), with some nice cabinets and furniture. I thought multiple cans were done? This is from an architect?
    Bathtub in the bedroom, for that nice steamy sheet feel. And you’ll have to heat up the whole bedroom to feel decently warm in the tub.
    No fridge because the kitchen is tiny and there was no room to put a real fridge, and what little storage is eaten up by inefficient, hard to see fridge drawers that will cost an arm and a leg to cool.
    The heat registers are all UP high, so you’ll pay to heat the ceilings.
    This whole place is simply ridiculous. I know he’s famous and all, and I’m a nobody, but it looks like it was designed by a first year architecture student.”
    from tipster regarding Beaver street.

  71. Posted by rubber_chicken

    This site needs a great client, not merely a good architect.
    Without the vision, the will and the $$, there will be never be a good design team or the follow-through to make this sing.
    Cheap developers hire cheap architects…

  72. Posted by sparky-b

    …and when it was done the houses would be overpriced for the neighborhood.

  73. Posted by Adam

    The problem with those designs is that they only make the most superficial of nods to the historic homes around them. The flat fronts, the bays sticking out over the garage(not very structurally sound either), the apparent lack of greenery, and the one house without a peaked gable in front(what are they thinking with that choice?) all make these homes just look cheap. In addition the original house. the actual historic property, does not appear as though it will receive any sort of renovation. There are a bunch of additions tacked on which can and should be removed to bring the home back to its original appearance. I personally would not be offended by a row of modern homes instead of these cheap knockoffs, but that requires more investment. However if you consider not the style but instead the quality of homes that this street has always been known for, then perhaps quality over style is the way to go.

  74. Posted by jlasf

    Actually, the right architect for this would be Hugh Newell Jacobsen. He takes an existing idiom and gives it a modern twist. It’s both classic and contemporary. For instance, here is his take on the Nantucket shingle style:
    http://2.bp.blogspot.com/_YcfTC5RmMGU/SkJfxDd9nvI/AAAAAAAAAH0/xMi97Zz4CjI/s400/2_jacobsen.jpg

  75. Posted by noearch

    Nope, I disagree about Jacobsen, for this project. Yes, his firm does beautiful and carefully crafted homes and other buildings, but they still tend to “mimic” an historic style.
    For this location that would be just as bad as “fake” Victorians.
    Most of us agree that a modernist solution would be more appropriate and actually reflect architecture of this time.

  76. Posted by Jim

    Am I the only one who thinks the existing addition on 940 Grove is handsome and appropriate to its 1960 or 1970 timeframe? Flat roofed, modern, yet with bays harkening back to Victorian times. In proportion, but making no effort to fool anyone. (The huge blank retaining wall on both 940 and the addition, not so much). I remember as a tourist here in the 1970s seeing it and thinking, wow, what a fine addition to an historic house.
    That being said, a good architect and a good client could do infill here that improves the streetscape, and what is proposed is not it.
    As to 3664 22nd Street, that wouldn’t fool anyone who has any design sense…its proportions are all wrong for a Victorian. 2935 Pacific? Looks like a bad remodel to me. Obviously is neither historic any style, is a new facade, and just looks pretentious. It looks like Clearheart are good craftspeople. Many of those are remodels; the news ones have atrocious proportions that again would not fool anyone. And they are all over designed and over bric a braced – much more than all but a very few Victorians, and thus don’t fool anyone either.
    The lesson…build something of the time, but in proper scale, materials, proportion. Its not that hard. It just takes talent, a more than the bare minimum budget.

  77. Posted by noearch

    @JIm: good point about the 940 Grove facade; yes, it’s clean, modern and works well at that location, without pretending to be Victorian.
    I agree with you about the Clearheart projects. Great craftsmanship, mostly remodels.
    The one on 19th St. near Noe is an overblown, Victorian remodel on steroids; the bracketing and trim and ornamentation go on and on; actually looking very comical and Disneyesque.
    Yes, talent, an appropriate budget, and a great client will often bring a great project to the street.

  78. Posted by lol

    Most of us agree that a modernist solution would be more appropriate and actually reflect architecture of this time.
    As well as provide you with exciting projects. I understand that architects who want to express their creativity have very few occasions to do it in the City…

  79. Posted by invented

    “The one on 19th St. near Noe is an overblown, Victorian remodel on steroids; the bracketing and trim and ornamentation go on and on; actually looking very comical and Disneyesque.”
    Agreed NoeArch.
    There is another facade restoration firm in town who does careful researched historical facades without the Vic ersatz exuberance. The name escapes.

  80. Posted by citicritter

    Wow, never heard so many armchair architecture experts spout on to this extent.
    You don’t need Hugh Newell Jacobsen (is he still alive), or even Saitowitz or Steely necessarily (though they’d be better), just a good client and a solid architect who have a little vision and some serious design chops…I can think of several local (or less local) architects who’d do a great job (the client is another matter).

  81. Posted by noearch

    @citicritter:
    You just re-phrased what we have ALL been saying for the past 80 comments.

  82. Posted by AA

    Jacobsen is actually quite modern, that example happened to be one of his less modern designs material-wise- but still is a modern take on traditional forms, no period home would ever have the formal organizations that his buildings are known for. I think that a crisp take on a traditional style is the right approach. Starkly modern is still just a short term trend if you take the long view of history. Architectural styles changed very slowly over many hundreds of years. It’s just the past hundred years where the pace of change has become rapid and possibly chaotic. Building styles have jumped around during this time of great change as well. Architects don’t have to be afraid of the past, and they don’t need to mimic it either, but there is something else out there besides concrete and channel glass.

  83. Posted by noearch

    What?????
    “starkly modern is just a short term trend..”
    Seriously?
    Tell that to Mies and Philip Johnson, among others.
    Jacobsen’s work is very east coast, and very “fussy”. Would not work at all here in SF.

  84. Posted by rubber_chicken

    Here’s a good architect developer team:
    Jim Jennings & Steven Oliver
    Enduring modern work and amazing craft that transcends the cheesy Dwell/McModern stylings of Steely et al. This stuff don’t come cheap though…
    For those that think this site should be quality and affordable: Keep dreaming. The redevelopment agency is the only entity who could deliver that. Or was…

  85. Posted by sparky-b

    You’re right the planning department would have loved a perforated corten box at this location.

  86. Posted by sfrenegade

    “Jim Jennings & Steven Oliver
    Enduring modern work and amazing craft that transcends the cheesy Dwell/McModern stylings of Steely et al.”
    Are you joking on Jim Jennings? I’m with sparky-b here on the corten box That’s Dwell to the max and belongs on that unhappyhipsters site that someone linked to.
    For Steven Oliver, you’re talking about Oliver & Co.? A lot of their stuff looks like a lot of the buildings people criticize on SocketSite. It’s okay, but the stuff on their website is nothing memorable.

  87. Posted by noearch

    What is this constant hate on Dwell; the magazine and perhaps the particular residential style they focus on?
    Essentially, it is very clean, modern, and built for humans, not for egos. Quite often they showcase outstanding, beautifully simple homes with good budgets that work for young families, singles, couples, gay and straight.
    I think most of the Dwell projects are good; they show architecture that solves problems in often simple ways, often clever ways, often playful ways.
    What is the problem with you people? Help me out on this one.

  88. Posted by dwell builder sparky-b

    noearch,
    I wasn’t hating on dwell, I agree with you.

  89. Posted by noearch

    Oh that’s cool. I wasn’t referring to you specifically, but others in general.
    BTW, why do you keep changing your name here? I dont get that.

  90. Posted by sparky-b

    I just changed it that one time, otherwise I haven’t changed between “b” and “c” for a long time.

  91. Posted by sfrenegade

    As I pointed out earlier, noearch, you used to hate Dwell until you didn’t. As a result, I think you already know the answer to this question, but one person’s “clean and modern” is another person’s “cold, lonely, ugly,” among other things. 47yo hipster (nee 45yo hipster), who theoretically would be the right category for a Dwell “shelter,” had the most brilliant thing to say about it on SocketSite:
    https://socketsite.com/archives/2010/09/half_of_xiaoyens_house_3794_16th_street_for_sale.html
    Forced comfort is a good way of putting it. The irony is that people think they’re being unique when Dwell-ing their house, just like everyone else.

  92. Posted by noearch

    Whatever sfrenegade. you spend more time here “correcting” people and “making a point” than actually offering constructive, intelligent comments about real estate, construction and design.
    I’ll stick with my thoughts about Dwell, both pro and con. Deal with it.
    Have a fabulous day!

  93. Posted by kathleen

    Talk about ugly stepchild. I can hear the tour bus drivers now…If you stand here you wont get the ugly buildings in your shot. Someone needs to stop the madness.

  94. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “…the buildings people criticize on SocketSite”
    Is there such a thing as a building that does not receive criticism here ? I don’t recall hardly anything that got universal love.
    But that’s OK. Taste is subjective. There’s not a single style of music that will satisfy everyone either.
    These homes as proposed are top-40 banal dreck targeting the masses. But if you replace them with cutting edge electro-industrial or neofolk you’ll upset those who would prefer jazz or classical.
    I’m really surprised by those who are turned off by Victorian. San Francisco must be living hell.

  95. Posted by noearch

    Gosh MOD:
    Well, it is about “taste”, sort of.
    And it is somewhat “subjective”, sort of. But there really is such a thing as truly bad architecture, truly bad design, and the proposed buildings really do fall under this category.
    I don’t really know what “electro-industrial” is, or what “neo-folk” is..(pretty cool descriptions however”.
    I for one, am not turned off by Victorians: that were truly built in the Victorian era. They have a place and respect in our history here.
    I am turned off by fake Victorians built in 2011.

  96. Posted by sfrenegade

    We can agree to disagree noearch, but I at least made a genuine effort to ascertain why you changed your mind on Dwell. It would have been nice if you met us halfway.

  97. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    Sorry about those esoteric references though I am with you on the existing proposal being bad banal design. I can’t stand most top 40 music either.
    neofolk, electro-industrial : OMA/AMO, Gehry, Libeskind, etc.
    top 40 : banal stuff like this proposal
    jazz : mid century modern
    classical : victorian
    As for fauxtorian, if done well then no-one is the wiser. Well no-one except for specialists who study the result closely and can see the differences. The remaining 99.9% of society won’t notice or realize that it is a new construction.

  98. Posted by noearch

    @sfrenegade: meet you half way? why? I have diverse opinions and that’s my right.
    Consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.
    @MOD: i don’t care about 99.9% of society who do not understand honesty.
    Trying to fool others will ultimately only lead you to dislike yourself.

  99. Posted by jeff schlarb

    I agree with whoever agrees that: Either make these perfect victorians, or go toward the future with interesting, bold, modern designs. Which could be quite cool. I think that the reason nobody builds Victorians, is that carpentry is expensive peoples….

  100. Posted by Ted Bartlett

    100th Comment: Thank you everybody for all of the excellent suggestions, opinions & constructive criticism. The SF Historic Preservation Commission, SF Planning Department, Alamo Square Neighborhood Association & I are working closely together to make sure that we design & build 3 new buildings that many, hopefully most, people will appreciate & admire long after all of us are gone.
    These plastic looking renderings are simply a “progress set” intended to show setback & massing. The front exterior elevations are a work in progress. Please continue to review our exciting development at http://www.ThePaintedGentlemen.com. If you would like to discuss anything call or email. This public forum on SocketSite is good too. Thank you SocketSite creators.
    I will ask the Alamo Square Neighborhood Association if I can have a few minutes at the next monthly meeting Monday 3/28, 7:30pm at Savoy Tivoli. The SF HRC & SF Planning direction & guidance has been excellent. The SF DPW Department of Urban Forestry & SF Board of Permit Appeals were a pleasure to work with in our outstanding successful new 800 Block of Steiner & 930-940 street-scape tree project. Phase 1 is complete. Go by our block & see the 3 new beautiful Evergreen Pear trees in 4 new expanded landscaped planter boxes & see what can be done when neighbors work together & work with our City.
    The 3 new buildings on Steiner will be contemporary. If any of you have links or photos of contemporary/modern exterior details that you think will still look great on my 100th birthday in 2069, please send them over. Once we get SF HRC & Planning approval we will start the formal SF City Planning neighborhood 311 notification process & will host a meeting at 940 Grove. Jeff Schlarb & John Schrader let’s talk. Thank you, Ted Bartlett, 21st Century Alamo Square, LLC. 415.254.0711, Ted@BartlettRE.com

  101. Posted by The Milkshake of Despair

    “These plastic looking renderings are simply a “progress set” intended to show setback & massing.”
    Whew ! Thanks Ted, we got to thinking that those were the actual facades rather than a massing diagram. Best wishes with your development. You won’t be able to please everyone of course though it sounds like your intentions are in the right place. If you’re going contemporary then my vote is for something radically envelope pushing though recognizable as a set.

  102. Posted by local resident

    I live on the 800 block of Steiner and so am rather interested in what happens here. It really irks me that the HPC can say that the new houses have to look “Victorian.” They could be completely contemporary with, say, a corrugated steel tower or quoins of brushed steel and thereby reference the Victoriana in the midst of which they will be sited. Why must they be insipid imitations? Not that I think Ted wants insipid, but “those who know best,” cousins of the Repubs who don’t want the electorate to vote on an extension of existing state taxes, seem to be pushing the project that way.

  103. Posted by StockBoySF

    **YUCK**

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