As a plugged-in reader recalls, while the developer of the proposed Hayes Valley building to rise on the corner of Fulton and Gough prefers a black glazed brick façade, the Planning Department wasn’t feeling it and the color scheme was redesigned in an attempt to facilitate its approval and appeal to Planning’s tastes:

A New Hayes Valley Home For The Boys & Girls And Adults [SocketSite]

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by OohAhh

    Still ugly, but better than the morbid-looking orignal.

  2. Posted by Drew

    I think it looked great as it was. Planning should butt out of the design process entirely.
    At any rate, it’s all personal opinion, really, so we should just let architects be architects and armchair critics be armchair critics.

  3. Posted by Brad

    I enjoyed the contrast of the original design.

  4. Posted by design matters

    While admittedly this is a small-scale building that’s only visible from the immediate vicinity, it is an explicit policy enshrined in the City’s General Plan since the early 1970s that large buildings, particularly those of prominence on the skyline, should be light in color. This was a direct backlash to the dark and foreboding 775′ tall corporate behemoth that is the B of A tower, built in 1969. It’s a good policy.

  5. Posted by futurist

    The SF Planning Dept. has no business to decide on the color of a building. They continue to overstep their position and authority all the time.
    An abuse of power by unskilled people.

  6. Posted by sf

    There are several new buildings that are not beige.
    Millennium Tower
    10th and Market
    Rincon Hill
    and many more planned.
    I prefer the original black look.

  7. Posted by James

    The black is better simply because of contrast with the white sunshades. This redesign would be fine, except that contrast is now lost. Why not dark or brightly colored shades? Now it’s just bland on bland.

  8. Posted by jerry of san francisco

    I like the new light color much better. I live in the neighborhood & this would be a welcome design.

  9. Posted by Adam

    When the sunlight is glinting off the white tiles and straight into the eyes of passers-by, drivers, and right in your front window, you may consider changing that opinion.

  10. Posted by Denis

    I prefer the black… Regardless, the side facing Gough is going to be black in a couple of years anyway from pollution. The white will be a little more maintenance heavy.

  11. Posted by EH

    I don’t know the architectural term for it, but the dark one is more “dimensional” than the light one.

  12. Posted by BobN

    This way the streaks of soot from the cars on Gough will make delightful patterns on the facade…

  13. Posted by North Beach Tony

    Odd that planning thinks they can can tell you what color a building should _start out as_ but cannot tell you what color you could later choose to paint it.
    Agree that they are overstepping their bounds. I like a bit of morbidness amongst all the prevaricating midtones.

  14. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    When the city hires architects to design buildings that the city pays for, then the city’s bureaucrats can decide what is good and bad design.
    But the idea that these paperpushing mooks should be the arbiters of taste when the project is privately funded is beyond absurd. Stop it, stop it now!

  15. Posted by Tom Jones

    The Baker design is somewhat of a cross between I got lost in Ikea this weekend with my fantasy vacation to Sweden…I think there are too many David Baker buildings in Hayes Valley as it is, give another deserving architect a chance. The Boys and Girls Club is an elegantly designed facility that will pass the the test of time unlike its companion.

  16. Posted by citicritter

    Black version is better. Planning should not decide color, end of story.

  17. Posted by Louis

    I will not address the qualifications of planning staff to manage design — but at some level it should be their responsibility, and they need to do it will skill and authority. If they do not have the skills then they need the mandate to get them.
    PS, in answer to one readers question, the architectural term for these buiding designs actually is “ugly”. This case is far beyond just subjective opinion; its not a “foot foul” its an elbow to the head.
    The idea that “private funding” brings the right to build pathetically bad design and place it in the public realm and diminish the quality of the public realm is absurd. It is no different from a factory belching out toxic waste unregulated.

  18. Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

    OK, Louis, by that rationale when is Big Brother going to tell me what style and color of car I’m permitted to drive in “the public realm”? Or what clothes to wear or when to get a haircut? And where is the Planning Dept. when homeowners in the Sunset paint their houses in those awful loud pastel colors?
    Enough with this BS. It’s not the architecture in this city that’s “Soviet-style” as Brahma likes to cry about, it’s the goddam government. Enforce the zoning, safety and environmental laws and then GTFO of the way.

  19. Posted by Hatem

    Actually, I believe that this building was originally proposed as all black, then was redesigned as this light colored patchwork. This post is now showing the newest design of a patchwork of greys, developed as a compromise with the planning department. Personally, I really like the dark.

  20. Posted by Brian

    Ugly. The black was at least different.

  21. Posted by BT

    If you ever forget why San Francisco’s built fabric is so boring and bland, this is why. Central Planning making all decisions and requiring everything to accommodate their dubious taste. I live close to that area and I’d prefer the black–but nobody cares because I don’t work for Planning (and I wouldn’t want my personal taste to be a deciding factor anyway). The builder should decide within parameters of a code with wide scope.

  22. Posted by Evan

    There are plenty of ugly buildings that are black, but very few that are ugly because they are black. This is a clear example, where the revised building color is safe and dull; the black version is much stronger. The original offered a completely appropriate amount of boldness for the street corner. It would have been a nice break from our hilly waves of beige, but for the forces of consensus.

  23. Posted by Willb4now

    Neither black or white is ideal because of the extreme contrasts. There are other options. Looking down the Fulton corridor to City Hall, this building, if black, would be a distraction. The SF Planning Department has every right to weigh in on the long term view of the city’s urban design. Developers and architects come and go. Planning is here for the long haul. They are qualified and are right in this case. I agree with Brad this is part of the General Plan vision and should be maintained primarily as a view corridor to City Hall. SocketSight should post photos from that aspect.

  24. Posted by Joel V

    Yeah…I’m not really feeling the Planning Department’s decision.

  25. Posted by JohnB

    Too tall. Neither Gough nor Fulton are wide streets so a 6-storey building will create a canyon. Buildings in proximity to City Hall should also be shorter to preserve the mangnificent vista down Fulton.

  26. Posted by anon

    ^Unless a building is built in the middle of the street you’ll still be able to look down Fulton and see City Hall just fine.
    And sorry, both are absolutely wide enough streets to support a squat 6 story building. I’d probably agree with you that the location isn’t correct for a 35 story building. 10-12 stories is probably the best use for the site.

  27. Posted by David Baker

    The San Francisco Planning Commission agreed with us on the darker corner and overruled the Planning Department. It should be clear that most of the building will be a light color: just this corner is darker, a variegated gloss glazed clay tile. The sunshades are anodized perforated aluminum. The gloss finish on the curve will produce a dynamic shifting highlight.
    The notion that San Francisco is a city of white buildings is nostalgic, and might have been true at some time in the past. The actual condition is quite diverse with great variation in tonal value. Personally I like things mixed up a bit.

  28. Posted by curmudgeon

    Congrats David, I like the dark corner. It’s a nice highlight.

  29. Posted by Turin

    Great news! the darker color gives it much more substance, which I think is appropriate on the corner.

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