Generalized Architectural Observations

On a typical day it is quite easy to see a wide variety of contrasting architectural styles in San Francisco. Whether it be the iconic Transamerica Pyramid, AT&T Park, the assorted row houses in various neighborhood, or the dismal abattoir of the Bay View / Hunter’s Point housing projects, there are examples of almost everything imaginable. The question is whether or not these diverse styles make for an artistically appealing city?
Perhaps the easy answer would be “yes”, because there are sections of the city which have all the necessary elements to be considered appealing. Nonetheless, there are also areas which too closely resemble the urban blight of mass impoverishment. At present, I live in a demilitarized zone between two of the projects, Sunnydale and Hunter’s Point. There is an odd blend of styles from both before World War II, and the 1950’s & 1960’s. Most of the styles are complementary, but some look like they were placed there simply to annoy other residents. I’m not talking about the eccentric who populates his front yard with an assortment of pelican figurines, or the local fix-it guy who has a bunch of derelict automobiles in the front yard. What confuses me most are how there will be five blocks of the same complementary houses, but in the middle will be an obscenely incongruous building. Perhaps the owner built it themselves, or gleaned through Better Homes & Gardens, only to make a mockery of what they discovered.
While everyone should have the right to live in whatever type of dwelling suits them best, when its plopped down in the midst of a vastly different collection of buildings, it could drive down the property value of the neighborhood. Granted, it may not be as destructive as having warring gangs, crack houses, or collapsed drunks and junkies everywhere, but it does not do any beneficial thing for the neighborhood. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling for some Fascist lunatics calling the shots about your property, and creating some kind of “Peyton Place”, just a universal acceptance that within a community, the actions of one may impact the lives of others. If my neighbors all want to live in modern Victorian dwellings, and I choose to build a Louisiana-style “shotgun shack”, should I be allowed to build it in the middle of their neighborhood? Probably not, but the key element would be for me to relocate to a place more suiting the dwelling I am erecting.

2 thoughts on “Generalized Architectural Observations

  1. The noted comments were made for an introduction to architecture class two years ago. I will contact you soon, but right now I am buried in homework for two schools and am trying to enter a third one.
    Thanks for the commentary,
    Gary Hallford

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