While working in Potrero a while back, I spent many a lunch break wandering around the neighboring Mission Bay and Dogpatch districts. While in the area, I couldn't help but notice the rate of the neighborhood's development. At that point, a year and some change back, it seemed like structures were rising from the rubble on the daily. Or, in a less provocative way, recently-forgotten and nondescript, historical buildings were being swept beneath the rug. So quickly, and with so much man power involved.
The ongoing development seemed that fast-moving, anyway, enough so that I was constantly reminding myself to bring my camera so I could document the land in flux. My grandfather took a series of photos of the Trans Am Pyramid during its phased build out in '72. The images are still something we marvel at, ephemera that will always be kept. They make me think how different this city will look in another 40 years.
On my lunch breaks, there was one building that, amidst the rubble and scaffolding and bulldozers, always got my attention. It stands both ominous and ridiculously bright. Bold. And seemingly lonely in one of the less densely populated pockets of San Francisco. And as it turned out, is "just" a parking garage.
The designers, a team from WRNS Studio located here in San Francisco, didn't dub it with a revolutionary name. It's called Mission Block 27 Parking Structure. Maybe the 2010 AIA SF Design Award Winner doesn't need one, though. The building speaks for itself. Teetering on what I can't wholly define as art deco, nor as entirely modern or fully minimal, it makes you guess as much as it does make you stare. Said to be built for onlookers to take an "urban pause," it offers exactly that: it's hard not to stop or slow down to watch afternoon light cascade incredible-looking shadows down its hard angles, or just note the bleach-white structure rebel in contrast against shades of blue sky and fog. And when it rains, water streams down from the insets and streaks the building, almost mocking streams of tears. Sounds dramatic, but it's a pretty dramatic-looking thing. Located where 16th and Third streets meet, it sits nudged between commercial ships and the (not so very) vast Western sprawl of the city. It's worth the trip and demands a visit, but waits quietly in the meantime.
Photo by Nikki Rad