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Monday, September 10, 2012

Architecture and the City Festival: 10 Picks for Experts and Dilletantes

Posted By on Mon, Sep 10, 2012 at 7:30 AM

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The month-long Architecture and the City Festival is underway in the Bay Area, and everyone's invited. This year's theme, Design: It's About Time, asks attendees to reconcile the permanence of the city's built environment with the rapidity of urban change. Now in it's ninth year, the nation's largest architecture festival is offering a dizzying array of walking and home tours, films, exhibitions, lectures, and other special events. We've parsed through the packed calendar and chosen 10 events which promise to delight dilettantes and experts alike.

The Tenderloin contains a strange dichotomy: This dense neighborhood offers high-end hotels catering to rich visitors who desire proximity to the theaters on one street, and Single Room Occupancy hotels serving as halfway houses on another. In 2009, it was placed on the National Register of Historic places, but it still has one of the highest rates of poverty and crime in the city. Traverse these diverse offerings firsthand during the walking tour, Rethinking the Tenderloin, at 3 p.m. on September 11.

The third weekend of September marks the 10th Annual San Francisco Living: Home Tours. On September 15 and 16, tour participants will be invited into some of the latest residential projects in private homes. Meet the design teams and explore housing trends from the inside out, perhaps picking up some inspiration during this celebration of San Francisco living.

An image from the exhibition Spaces Through Gender, which closes on September 29, 2012.
  • An image from the exhibition Spaces Through Gender, which closes on September 29, 2012.

Head to the Mission Cultural Center for Latino Arts to see a provocative exhibition co-sponsored by the Consulate General of Mexico in San Francisco, Spaces Through Gender. Curator Nora Enriquez highlights an oft-ignored group of Latin American women who have made substantial contributions to the field of architecture, exhibiting a variety of media including drawings, 3-D models, photography, and temporary installations. Catch the show before it closes on September 29.

How does a temporary intervention in an urban environment become permanent? Panelists from the San Francisco Recreation and Parks Department, Hood Design, and Shift Design Studio address this concept head on as a solution to urban spaces. The lecture's name is borrowed from the festival's theme, Design: It's About Time, and promises to be a comprehensive discussion at the AIA San Francisco on September 18 at 6 p.m.

Why do we respond differently to light? There are connections between our physiological response to light and human evolution, which explains why we prefer variable colors of light. By understanding how our responses inform our surroundings, we can better evaluate the lit environment we spend our time in, whether they be filled with artificial or natural light. Local firm Arup will lead the lecture on the Evolution of Our Perception of Light at 6 p.m. on September 20.

Owners Catherine Bailey and Robin Petravic invite you on a tour of the newly designed Heath Ceramics tile factory and showroom at 11 a.m. on September 21. The former linen laundry facility in San Francisco's Northeast Mission neighborhood has been transformed into a creative space boasting a manufacturing facility, viewing court, showroom, and tile installations, but this is just the beginning of their vision: Bailey and Petravic will be showing off a large space for future workshops.

Sightglass in SOMA.
  • Sightglass in SOMA.

Join owners and brothers Justin and Jerard Morrison, along with their architects from Boor Bridges, for the Sightglass Coffee Tasting + Tour on September 23 at 10 a.m. It took two years to turn the 7,500 square foot former sign manufacturing warehouse into a "shrine to the production and consumption of fine coffees, placing visitors at the center of the coffee production experience." While the brothers certainly contributed their own labor to the SOMA café, they also relied on craftsman to recreate the Japanese art of Shou-sugi-ban for siding treatment and a custom light fixtures made of over 38 reclaimed steel joist hangers.

The Southern Pacific Brewing Tour promises a behind-the-scenes look at the full scale brewery and restaurant in the Mission, and the 21+ requirement suggests you won't go thirsty. Housed at the 8,500 square foot industrial structure which marked the termination of the old rail line, Boor Bridges Architect Seth Boor will discuss his inspiration. Learn how classic train car interiors, large old world stations, and Mexican covered markets translated into a sanctuary boasting skylights, indoor trees, and an original wall of glass on September 25 at 2 p.m.

The Discover the History of Your Home event should boast a more inclusive name, as the lecture promises to serve as a guide to researching any San Francisco residence or commercial building. Join representatives from the San Francisco Public Library and the Planning Department at 6 p.m. on September 25 and learn how to utilize print and online resources, from historical photographs to information on prior owners.

Who doesn't love urban gardens? All around the city, vacant lots, balconies, and rooftops are being transformed into delicious spaces which building stronger communities, encouraging San Francisco residents to think critically about where food comes from. Agriculture in Unlikely Places will offer a walking tour of the Tenderloin, visiting a rooftop garden at Glide Memorial Church and the Tenderloin People's Garden. Meet at Glide Memorial Church at 10:30 a.m. on September 29.

For events in San Francisco this week and beyond, check out our calendar section. Follow us on Twitter at @ExhibitionistSF and like us on Facebook. Follow Alexis Coe on twitter @alexis_coe.
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