Deco the halls: SF skyscrapers jazz it up

Every December, when people are looking for ways to evoke that holiday spirit, many families pile up in cars and drive to their favorite Bay Area neighborhood, famous for over-the-top displays.  Or they traipse to Union Square together, to check out the huge windows at Macy's, Saks 5th Avenue, and Neiman Marcus, where some, like Carl Nolte of the San Francisco Chronicle, fondly remember… Continue reading Deco the halls: SF skyscrapers jazz it up

Is the Transbay Terminal worth saving?

Every time I walk past the dirty, exhaust-fume smudged Tranbay Terminal, amazingly I breathe a sigh of relief that its demolition has not yet occurred. This week, it was still there, as I glanced in the late winter light of the day, the belching buses pulling in front of its once-sleek entrance dominated by massive industrial style windows.… Continue reading Is the Transbay Terminal worth saving?

Next talk on Pflueger to be in a Pflueger

This is a tad early for a save-the-date notice, but a special lecture is coming up next year.  In January, I will be doing a talk on architect Timothy Pflueger for the Alameda Architectural Preservation Society. As a special treat, the lecture will take place inside the Pflueger-designed Alameda Theatre, resplendent since its $15.2 million restoration in the heart of downtown… Continue reading Next talk on Pflueger to be in a Pflueger

Charming book chronicles streetcar bohemia

Just before the turn of the century in San Francisco, a few years after architect Tim Pflueger was born in 1892, a quirky community sprouted up among the desolate sand dunes of Ocean Beach.  Some enterprising real estate men and hardy pioneering souls turned a host of obsolete horse-drawn street cars into coffee stands, homes and… Continue reading Charming book chronicles streetcar bohemia

King Tut-mania lives on in San Francisco

The King Tut exhibit at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park is not the only place in San Francisco you will find a penchant for all things Egyptian. The influence of that discovery in 1922 of the Egyptian boy pharaoh's tomb lives on today in many Art Deco buildings that have survived since the 1920s. Some fine examples can be found… Continue reading King Tut-mania lives on in San Francisco

At 80 years old, 450 Sutter looks fabulous

Last week, I went to the dentist at 450 Sutter, Miller & Pflueger's ode to the Maya.  While I was there, the pleasant security guards (among the nicest in San Francisco) were changing the notices in the elevator, where management updates tenants about the building's ongoing restoration project.  The guard let me keep last week's notice. In its place was a reminder that… Continue reading At 80 years old, 450 Sutter looks fabulous

The disappearing sky room

News of the impending closure of the Carnelian Room, the city's highest sky room atop the Bank of America building, has saddened many San Franciscans and visitors alike. From its perch in the middle of the Financial District, the restaurant is known as a place to celebrate special occasions and for schmoozing VIP business colleagues. The 52nd… Continue reading The disappearing sky room

Rooftop with a view

The new rooftop sculpture garden at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art has a treat in store for Timothy Pflueger fans. It offers a great view of the rear elevation of the Telephone Building, completed in 1925. That year was  important both in the design world and as a defining moment of the Jazz Age: … Continue reading Rooftop with a view

Shuttered Mission San Miguel reopens

Mission San Miguel at twilight A couple of weeks ago, I visited the Mission San Miguel Arcangel, known as the mission on the highway (it is right off Highway 101), in between San Francisco and Los Angeles. The church has now reopened after suffering serious damage in the 2003 San Simeon earthquake. It had been closed for nearly… Continue reading Shuttered Mission San Miguel reopens

Come on a Downtown Deco tour!

San Francisco City Guides Downtown Deco Tour on October 18 will explore many skyscrapers in San Francisco's Financial District, including four buildings by architect Tim Pflueger.  Meet at the Telephone Building, 140 New Montgomery, between Mission and Howard streets, at 11:00 am, Sunday, October 18. The tour is over mostly flat terrain and lasts about 90… Continue reading Come on a Downtown Deco tour!