by E. Chloe´ Lauer
Director of Strategy
“San Francisco attracted 16 million visitors in 2007, according to Wikipedia (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/San_Francisco), and ranks consistently in the top 100 destination cities of the world (http://blog.euromonitor.com/2011/01/euromonitor-internationals-top-city-destinations-ranking.html).
In an ongoing series, we’ll be exploring the architectural, cultural, and environmental attributes that come together to make a place like San Francisco such a popular destination.
Aquatic Park in San Francisco is a case in point. The beauty is undeniable. Let’s look below the surface to identify how architecture, culture, and the environment are intersecting to create such a memorable and spectacular place.
On a warm and sunny fall day, San Francisco bustles with the energy of delighted locals out for their morning jogs and bike rides passing eager tourists seeking out the world famous sites. Health and fitness are in the air as the Nike marathoners head from Union Square through the city, along the Bay and through Golden Gate Park, celebrating a big accomplishment as they reach Ocean Beach. On Treasure Island, revelers feast on live music all weekend. That’s just a taste of the range of happenings that the city offers on an typical weekend.
The variety of building type and scale create interest and dimension for the viewer. In the foreground, the Balclutha Ship’s masts stand out, bringing texture to the clear blue sky. The middle ground neighborhood scale 2-3 story homes and apartment buildings allow taller apartment buildings on Russian and Nob Hills to the right and Coit Tower on Telegraph Hill to frame the Financial District’s skyline in the background. The TransAmerica Building’s distinctive shape gives the viewer an icon to focus on.
The incredible culture and majestic architecture wouldn’t be nearly as compelling if it weren’t for the physical setting: the crystalline sky reflecting in the glistening bay. Without the hills, the skyline would lack interest. Really, the environment is the basis for the development of San Francisco’s culture and architecture. People are attracted to the edges of land masses as they meet the world’s massive water bodies: over half of the world’s population lives within 120 miles of a coast (1998). http://www.oceanservice.noaa.gov/websites/retiredsites/natdia_pdf/3hinrichsen.pdf\
Stay tuned for the next installment on San Francisco: World Class City Equation.