Unbuilt San Francisco Opening Reception

September 12, 2013 2 min read

Did you make it to the opening reception for Unbuilt San Francisco? I stopped by The California Historical Society with some friends last Friday and learned a lot about our city.

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If you haven't heard about this exhibition, you can read all about it here, as I interviewed Margie O'Driscoll, who organized it, not long ago. 

The main thing I took away from visiting just this one venue is how little I know about the history of San Francisco, from the plan to build apartments and a mall in the Headlands (bad idea!) to a proposal for an underpass in front of the Ferry building (nice!).

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The Ferry Building was the subject of a few proposals, all quite interesting and thought provoking. Ferry Building Peristyle by Willis Polk, from 1897, reminded me of Italy.

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This show is also a powerful reminder of how far we have come as far as technology is concerned. At Novedge I read, talk and learn everyday about the latest 3D technology, rendering tools and all sorts of other technology that was unthinkable just a few decades ago. Seeing these models and sketches is a powerful reminder that creativity knows no bounds and has always been expressed with a variety of tools.

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One very timely piece was this poster for the opening of the Oakland Bay Bridge in 1936, by Paul Forster.

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Compare it to the time lapse video that went viral on YouTube to announce the opening of the a new span of the same bridge, now rebuilt to be earthquake safe.


I think my favorite piece was a map of the city of San Francisco drawn by Mario J. Ciampi with hand-written notes of what could be built for the World's Fair in 1965. Some of the suggestions are great and some are clearly from a different time! If you get a chance, make sure to visit the California Historical Society and take a good look at it in all its details.

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There is still time to join this month's Architecture and the City: take a look at my choice of 11 events not to be missed and dive right in. And remember that Unbuilt San Francisco will be on view past September, so you have plenty of time to visit all four locations and learn about our city's past and almost future.


Related articles

The Edge: Margie O'Driscoll Unbuilds San Francisco

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