Rugged Land’s End Lookout Deserves It’s Own Look
Sunday, April 29, 2012
Michael Macor / The Chronicle
The two stone lions that guard the main entrance off Point Lobos Avenue are replicas of relics from Sutro Heights across the way.
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It’s hard to imagine a more appropriate building for aptly named Lands End than the confident outpost of concrete and glass that officially opened Saturday.
Assertive and inviting at once, the compact structure commands one of San Francisco’s best sites – a cliff above the ruins of Sutro Baths, up from the Cliff House with a forested backdrop on three sides. The architectural response is tough rather than meek, and it enriches a location that already is one-of-a-kind.
Lands End has been a destination since the 1860s, when the first of several predecessors to today’s Cliff House restaurant could be reached by a toll road that is now Geary Boulevard, 50 cents a ride on a horse-drawn omnibus from Portsmouth Square. Tycoon Adolph Sutro opened his Sutro Baths in 1896 with seven indoor pools as well as an amphitheater and later an ice skating rink.
The crowds kept coming after fire destroyed the Baths in 1966. What greeted them for the next 30 years were stunning views of the Pacific Ocean – and threadbare trails, a dirt parking lot and the tangle of tour buses outside a Cliff House that included a cramped visitors center.
The new building designed by San Francisco’s EHDD is the latest in a series of upgrades that follow the 1993 master plan for the Sutro Historic District done by the National Park Service and implemented in partnership with the Golden Gate National Parks Conservancy.
Another key player has been the Richard and Rhoda Goldman Fund, which has donated $8.6 million to the Lands End efforts up to and including the Lookout.
As with other improvements, which include a rebuilt Cliff House and paved trails accessible to people in wheelchairs, the offering here is aimed at both one-time tourists and devoted regulars.
There are bathrooms for the public, and storage areas for conservation programs. A small food counter offers to-go items. The centerpiece of the 4,100-square-foot structure, though, is a central space with educational exhibits amid merchandising kiosks, learning and commerce both geared to the locale.
The flat-topped modern building hunkers down on an exposed perch where the salty fog and winds “will beat a building to death if you’re not prepared,” says Jennifer Devlin of EHDD. Four thick walls of concrete run east to west, separating the building’s functions and extending into an inland plaza. The long bars tie the buildings into the landscape of low freshly planted dunes; they should also help deflect the often-brutal gusts.
On the side that faces the Pacific, the emphasis is exactly where it ought to be – the shop and cafe are lined by 14-foot-high panels of floor-to-ceiling glass. The public rooms angle slightly northwest, making the Marin Headlands part of the show. Clerestory windows above the concrete walls reduce the glare within the handsome space with its exhibit and sales areas designed by the small local firm Macchiatto.
Other touches make the connection to place without making a fuss.
Some are obvious, such as the two stone lions that guard the entrance off Point Lobos Avenue and are replicas of relics from Sutro Heights across the way. Some are subtle: The reclaimed redwood siding on the building’s east side has the raw simplicity of what critic Lewis Mumford dubbed the “Bay Region Style” in 1947.
It all comes together
The final cultural overlay is a quest for sustainability that extends beyond the solar panels on the roof. The structure is naturally ventilated, restrooms included. Recycled materials are used throughout, including oyster shells for mulch along the dunes.
Inevitably, the Lookout’s presence has stirred a reaction. It’s snug against the paved esplanade along the cliff; it pops into the view of drivers as Geary Boulevard becomes Point Lobos Avenue. The architecture doesn’t try to echo the long-gone Victoriana of the Cliff House that existed from 1896 to 1907.
But that’s part of what makes the experience so special. The siting, the materials, the design philosophy – all are attuned to a remarkable urban encounter with the natural forces that still shape this region.
Lands End is not a timid location. How fitting that the final building likely to rise here isn’t timid, either.
King is the San Francisco Chronicle‘s urban design critic. firstname.lastname@example.org
This article appeared on page C – 1 of the San Francisco Chronicle
Kick Off Spring with These Three Art Shows
Katharina Wulff, Die Verbindung (The Connection), 2008; oil on canvas;
48 1/16 x 68 7/8 in. (122 x 175 cm); Olbricht Collection; © Katharina
The city’s museums now have their major exhibitions out and swinging (you’ve seen Foto Mexico and Gaultier; the ads plastered over town are maybe coaxing a return visit) and the gallery circuit is on the cusp of exploding into a big spring season. Our suggestion: take this weekend to explore some of the Bay’s slightly smaller, considerably less hyped, but no doubt equally fascinating museum shows. Here are three picks.
New Work: Katharina Wulff at SFMOMA
Katharina Wulff is unmistakably contemporary in how freely she channels the modern. Befitting for an institution that hangs the likes of Matisse and Dalí, Wulff’s whimsical and captivating paintings are at turns Fauvist, Surrealist and Dada. The whole of art history is the Moroccan-based artist’s playground.
Consisting of twenty works, this showing marks the artist’s first ever solo exhibition in the U.S., and, more importantly, her west coast debut. What can you expect? Much in the way of fantastical landscapes, confused perspective, bizarre-looking animals and still more bizarre-looking people. They brim with color and intrigue, never staying too long in any one place.
Katharina Wulff runs through September 4, 2012, at SFMOMA, 151 3rd Street
Modern Cartoonist: The Art of Daniel Clowes at Oakland Museum of California
Don’t call them comic books. The twenty first century graphic novel has elevated the panel-illustrated narrative to unprecedented heights. It’s been a thrilling and lucrative progression, and Oakland’s own Daniel Clowes has been at the forefront from the beginning. Some accounts would place this remarkably gifted illustrator, who has over fifty publications under his belt as well as an academy award nomination for screenplay, as the genre’s reigning patriarch.
The OMCA’s sprawling, installation-based show marks the first major survey of Clowe’s work to date. Complete with original drawings, artifacts and an extensive full-color monograph, this form of recognition is long overdue.
Modern Cartoonist runs through August 24, 2012, at Oakland Museum of California, 1000 Oak Street
Femmescapes at Mills College Art Museum
A group of Mills College students were given a pretty amazing opportunity: to freely mine Lenore Pereira and Rich Niles’ marvelous collection of contemporary work by women artists. With names like Louise Bourgeois, Ann Hamilton and Francesca Woodman on the roster, this is a trove that many professional curators would probably kill for a chance to have at.
The resulting exhibition, Femmescapes, explores the various conceptual and metaphorical intertwinings of femininity and environment – nature as a woman, woman as land (lush, fertile, barren, etc.), body as landscape. Featuring about 40 works of painting, video, photography and sculpture, this is a unique glimpse not to be missed.
Femmescapes is on view Saturdays and Sundays only, through May 6, at 70 South Park
Dolores Park Playground Parents Now Want A Fence To Keep Out Gays & Dogs
We’ve discussed before our trepidation about the infringing upon gay space that happened when that new Dolores Park playground got renovated and drastically enlarged. Though most of the gay beach remains intact, there have been complaints that motorcycle cops have been making the scantily clad sunbathers feel uncomfortable lately — if there are too many reports like this, we don’t want to see how mad and in-your-face Anna Conda will get. Cops have also handcuffed and cited the cold-beer-cold-water dude, which is just sad, even if he is mean. And now Mission Local and Uptown Almanac report on some complaints from parents that with their ridiculously outsized new toddler terrarium they now think they need a fence to keep out the big scary dogs running around. COME ON. There has always been a playground, and there have always been dogs in the park. Basically you give San Francisco’s three dozen parents an inch and they want to take a mile!
Supervisor Scott Wiener says he’s gotten “several dozen” calls from concerned parents who want the playground fenced off, but he supports the original design which uses plants to form a natural barrier to discourage dogs from running in. Then again, Rec and Parks manager Eric Andersen is allegedly keeping the option open of adding a low fence at some point.
And yes, commenters, we know there are more than three dozen parents in this city, but not a lot more! As mentioned before, this is a city with an ever-dwindling number of children and families with children, and building a playground isn’t going to keep them here — improved schools and cheaper rents, however, might be a start. We prefer our parks full of adults, and unruly animals, and people selling booze and pot edibles.
PREVIOUSLY: Dolores Park To Be Half-Closed, Generally Unpleasant, For A Really Long Time
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S.F. Bay Guardian Announcement: Brugmann Stepping Down, Headquarters Sold For $6.5 Million
Guardian HQ, via Street View
In an official announcement today, San Francisco Bay Guardian Executive Editor Tim Redmond cleared up some of the the rumors swirling around the will-they/won’t-they hookup situation between the Guardian and the San Francisco Examiner. The biggest take aways: longtime publishers Bruce Brugmann and Jean Dibble will be stepping down from their day-to-day operations as they cash in on the sale of the paper’s Potrero Hill headquarters.
Helping out Boss Brugmann and his wife as they sunset their way to retirement, San Francisco real estate investment firm Union Property Capital has agreed to pay $6.5 million for the paper’s HQ on Mississippi Street. That price tag is just under $2 million more than Brugmann paid for the 27,000 square-foot building back in 2002 using Small Business loans to make the down payment. The deal was reportedly made off the market.
Although Examiner Publisher Todd Vogt was originally being coy about the sale, he explained to Redmond, “Bruce and Jean have created a legendary publication, and we are happy to be able to give it a new home and the chance to continue its mission.” The Ex and the SFBG will remain separate and distinct papers, but Vogt did point out that, “the potential synergies will be beneficial to readers and advertisers.”
Redmond also explained the paper’s plan for the future and his own expanded role:
This transition is connected to ongoing exclusive negotiations with a subsidiary of The SF Newspaper Company LLC to purchase all assets related to the the Guardian publishing operations. SFNalso owns and publishes the San Francisco Examiner. Both parties are optimistic that a final contract will be signed shortly, most likely in May.
There are no plans to change the editorial content or positions of the Guardian, which will remain the voice of progressive politics and alternative culture in San Francisco. Executive Editor Tim Redmond will stay on in the expanded role of executive editor and publisher.
Brugmann, meanwhile, will continue keeping up the Bruce Blog for the foreseeable future.
Previously: SF Examiner Just Bought SF Bay Guardian?
Partiers Leave Behind Massive Fort Mason Mess
: Andrew Dalton/SFist
Happy Earth Day, everybody! Just when we thought our faith in the drunkards had been restored, we spotted this disaster area left behind after throngs of Marina District revelers took their overconsumption outdoors yesterday afternoon. After a brief stop at the Marina Dateway, where the neighborhood grocery store was experiencing a run on domestic beer and ladies were overheard discussing the caloric content of various vodkas, we found this scene on the grass at Fort Mason around 7 p.m. Saturday evening.
What looked something like this during the afternoon, by sunset looked like a good place to catch Hepatitis. That’s also when the seagulls started swooping in, probably looking for beer can rings to choke themselves to death with. (Because of how disappointed in humanity they were.)
Not to get all hippie-preachy or anything, but this is kind of an offensive amount of trash, right? Do normal and reasonable human beings not look at that mess and say, “…maybe we ought to like, I don’t know? Take some of this trash with us? To a trash can?” or “Maybe we should bring that coffee table back home?” We’ve seen our share of litter-y days in Dolores Park and some embarrassing trash pileups in Golden Gate Park, but leaving actual pieces of living room furniture is a whole new level of prickish park use.
“Those trash picker guys are going to be stoked about this!” was one justification we heard for the mess. We tried to get someone from the neighborhood recycling center on the phone to settle that bet, but they are unfortunately not open on Sundays, so we’ll have to follow up on that later.
Anyhow, much of the mess was still around this morning, even after the recyclers had picked it over. Which is disheartening in that “this is why we can’t have nice things” sort of way. Enjoying scenic vistas around every corner is one of the nicest parts about living in San Francisco. And Fort Mason has one hell of a Bridge view, so why would you just throw a piece of garbage in front of that, you know?
Anyhow, in the interest of fairness, if anyone took any similar photos in Dolores Park or any other public park this weekend, please do share. We’d love to find out which park has San Francisco’s messiest crowd.
Note: Misson Local has a look at the state of Dolores Park this morning. The Mission looks like it had its own share of litterbugs this weekend, but considering the huge crowds we saw at Dolores Park yesterday afternoon, we’re still calling this one for the Marina.
FAUX (FOX) NEWS UPDATE (April 24): Fox Nation picked up the trashy item, using it to fabricate an entire story to blame green activists.
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The Lexington Club
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Mint Karaoke Lounge
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- Photos: 7×7 Spring 2012 Nightlife Guide Launch at The Brixton (7×7.com)
- Armory Tours (exploresanfrancisco.biz)
Parents Want Dolores Park Playground Fenced – Mission Loc@l : News From San Franciscos Mission District
Now Parents Want Dolores Park Playground Fenced!
Photo by Dolores Park WorksBy: Francisco Perez | April 21, 2012 – 7:00 am
Some parents have said they are concerned that the recently opened Helen Diller playground in Dolores Park lacks a fence to keep out dogs, which can scare, chase or hurt their children.
Andre Kellerman, a neighbor who lives opposite the park, said she recently saw a pit bull or some other type of dog wandering in the playground.“It was just running aimlessly through the playground without a care in the world and it knocked down a toddler as it went though. The toddlers mother was innocently sending a text and missed seeing what happened. She asked me if I was able to get it on my phone but I hadn’t” she said. “The child’s mother had to instantly call her nanny and instructed her to prepare an unscheduled bath for the soiled child.” Andre was clearly upset and was breathing rapidly as she spoke. She appeared quite indignant and perplexed how such a thing could have occurred in her own neighborhood. Though the encounter resulted in no injury, Kellerman said the absence of a fence allows any of the off-leash dogs in the area to enter. “An incident that does not end so well is bound to happen,” she said, “None of us want that, now do we?” Jana Thompson, another neighbor living close to Dolores Park but more on the Noe Valley side of 24th, also saw the incident. To her, it feels as though “dogs have taken precedence over kids” in Dolores Park.” It’s as if the other park users would rather have dogs running around than our kids, who are so precious to us.” She nodded at her housekeeper who rocked a stroller back and forth nervously.
Several neighbors have written to both the San Francisco Recreation and Park Department and district Supervisor Scott Wiener. One has White House ties as she put it, another outraged mother has contacted Nancy Pelosi. Wissper Cunningham-Lee, also of Noe Valley, said she speaks for the group, and they are beginning to think more and more about Mitt Romney because of his position on dogs.
Connie Chan, deputy director of public affairs at Rec Park, said the playground has never had a fence and the current design was the result of a extremely lengthy debate between residents, designers and authorities.In the end, she said, participants decided it was best to use plants as a form of buffer instead of fencing the playground. “The design of the planting buffer would create a natural barrier to prevent dogs from running in,” she said.Chan said the decision also stemmed from the practical concern of accommodating park users for sitting and viewing, especially during special events.Robert Brust, co-founder of Dolores Park Works, agreed with Chan, stressing the importance of keeping large, open spaces for the park to remain fully accessible to the public.“The big lawns are necessary for the use of the park as a civic venue,” he said.Wiener said he has received “several dozen” messages from concerned residents. However, he supports the decision to not fence the area. The playground, he said, is “an asset to the park,” and “radically changing its design” would be inappropriate.Wiener said that another factor in the decision not to fence was the desire to accommodate a larger population of children in the playground. “Helen Diller is not just for younger kids,” he said. “It is also for older kids, and we thought a fence could put them off.”Nancy Gonzalez Madynski, a lifelong Mission resident who took part in the planning discussions, said it “is no oversight” that the fence was left out of the final design. To her, it seemed unfair to isolate the children behind a fence.“Dolores Park is a mixing area where everyone is welcome,” she said. “It made no sense to segregate in any way.”
However, city officials are not insensitive to parents’ concerns.Brust said that Rec Park manager Eric Andersen, who did not return Mission Loc@l’s phone calls, wants to “keep the option to put up a fence.”“A small, low, ornamental fence around the north side of the playground may be a good idea,” Brust added. Something about a foot to a foot and a half tall, perhaps a living fence. Bonsai Redwood trees had been discussed, he shared thoughtfully.
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Co-Producer/Co-Director. Geordie is a filmmaker who comes primarily from a post-production background. He has been motion graphics designer, production assistant, and assistant editor with various production and post-production companies, including for the award-winning television series ‘More Than Entertainment’ for Frame By Frame Productions. He most recently created, directed, co-produced, and co-wrote a half-hour sketch comedy for cable television.
With a passion for history and the film arts, he is now answering the call to blend the two spheres together.
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