“Bunker Hill’s Department of Water and Power building may be the only office building in Los Angeles even more beloved for its nighttime appearance than for its look in the light of day. Both manifestations are extraordinary, as they illustrate with proud literalness the water and power on which the city depends . . . . [T]he seventeen-story Corporate International-style building rises from the center of an enormous reflecting pool punctuated by fountains. In the daylight, it appears as a Modern temple dedicated to the worship of water, separated from the rest of downtown by a careless abundance of the precious liquid. Its vertical steel columns support horizontal concrete floor slabs cantilevered twelve feet beyond the building, shading the office windows within and highlighting the structural system. At night, the horizontal elements are the only building components visible as the rest of it melts into a blaze of light, a shining lantern on the hill. Electric bills be damned, it says, there’s more than enough power to go around.”—Los Angeles Conservancy
Frank Gehry’s renovation and addition of a Dutch Colonial cottage for his own family quickly became an icon of “deconstructivism,” though Gehry himself characterized it otherwise: “We were told there were ghosts in the house. I decided they were ghosts of Cubism.”
Zach Mortice, writing in AIArchitect, observes, “The Gehry Residence’s confrontational use of materials is meant as a sly comment on how homes are made and what is appropriate to make them out of. Its superficial crudeness points out the still relatively primitive way houses are built, and the upfront use of chain-link makes it harder to ignore that this ungainly material covers vast tracts of cities. The use of these types of materials has been hugely influential. The Gehry Residence has probably done as much as any other contemporary building to de-stigmatize the use of simple, raw, industrial materials for the bourgeois urban class.”
The Cathedral of Saint Mary of the Assumption, also known locally as Saint Mary’s Cathedral, is the principal church of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of San Francisco. It stands prominently above the city on Cathedral Hill. Its roof is surmounted by a soaring cupola, composed of eight hyperbolic-paraboloid concrete shells rising 190 feet from massive pylons to meet overhead in the form of a cross. An early interpretation of the liturgical changes brought about by the Second Vatican Council, its great corner windows open out onto dramatic views of San Francisco, meant to remind the faithful of their commitment to the work of the Kingdom of God on earth. In contrast to the prevailing concrete of the structure, the floor, in sweeping patterns of red brick, recalls the historic mission churches of California, as well as the Cathedral’s immediate predecessor, Old St. Mary’s Church of 1854.
“In 1969, and throughout its construction, the boarding surrounding the emerging site boldly boasted: A San Francisco landmark since 1972.”—from the Emporis website
“The proposal’s 1,000-foot height exceeded any hill in this city revered for its topography. The tapering shaft of concrete with a steep metal peak defied every architectural norm of the era. The location was on the north end of the Financial District at Montgomery and Washington streets, at the foot of Columbus Avenue on a site across from Jackson Square – then and now an atmospheric nook defined by brick survivors of the 1906 earthquake . . . . Throughout the debate of 1969, architect William Pereira of Los Angeles defended his vision as a logical, elegant response to the challenge of inserting large structures into an older city, telling a reporter it ‘allows more light and more air into the streets and conserves the view.’ He also made the case that an abrupt shift in scale from Jackson Square would help maintain that district’s distinctive character, rather than overwhelm it. Time has proved Pereira right in both cases.”—John King, San Francisco Chronicle
“It is a magic place, really, a lively collection of small structures set among thickets of trees—many of them conifer ‘volunteers’ that grew into the spaces between buildings through natural proliferation. It is a place that is made special by this combination of intense vegetation, small buildings, and a spatial arrangement that is unusually varied and intricate. The village is also one of the few places at The Sea Ranch where children are always present, often confidently playing in the short, sparsely trafficked streets, which terminate at the edge of thick woods . . . . As the jury stated in giving this project an AIA Honor Award for Design in 1990, [it] has ‘a sense of inevitability—these houses and no others belong here. Humble, yet so assured, this project lends a quiet dignity to the spectrum of social housing.’”—Donlyn Lyndon, FAIA, The Sea Ranch