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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Chief Netherlands Architect Is Sorely Mistaken About Mission Bay

Posted By on Wed, Jul 1, 2009 at 4:04 PM

In yesterday's Chronicle, reporter John King relayed the musings of Liesbeth van der Pohl, the chief government architect of the Netherlands, on certain sites in San Francisco. She liked the Painted Ladies. She liked the De Young. And she liked...Mission Bay!?!

"It's a very nice atmosphere, so neat and well-maintained," she told King after a walk in Mission Bay. "Some of the parts are absolutely beautiful."

Um, what? I might not be an expert on architecture, but I happen to live in Mission Bay -- and unfortunately I see its "parts" every single day. The parts are intermittently boxy, devoid of culture, run-down, flat, sterile, loud, concrete, and generally soul-crushing. The park along the creek is nice, at best. The houseboats in the creek, I'll admit, are pretty cool. But the entirety of Mission Creek is not at all a "nice atmosphere."

I moved to Mission Bay because I found a cheap one-bedroom close to work, but most of what I'm surrounded by are luxury condos, along with UCSF buildings, the highway, the train tracks, and construction. There are a dearth of "neighborhoody" businesses or restaurants within easy walking distance of vast swaths of the neighborhood, which means even the construction workers have to get their meals from snack trucks. Roads are blocked for various reasons, leaving just one conjested street leading out of the neighborhood. Wait, did I just call Mission Bay a neighborhood? It's not. It's an uninspired, concrete monstrosity.


Other than the houseboats, the only character in the whole area, which is bounded by Townsend, Third, Seventh, and Mariposa streets, as well as the San Francisco Bay, is a run-down former restaurant on a crumbling pier near Berry and Fourth streets.

In reading the rest of the story about van der Pohl, it becomes clear that something is up. Her expert architect's opinion includes descriptions like "really beautiful" and "romantic" and "outrageous" and she even says she believes the controvesial exterior of the De Young will "stay in the hearts of people."

Surely, there must be some explanation for all the fluffiness? My best guess: In the spirit of cultural exchange, King and van der Pohl made a preliminary stop at a medical Marijuana dispensary.

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Ashley Harrell


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