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Trends that need to stay in 2016

San Francisco notables spill the proverbial tea

Mission District parklet Photo by torbakhopper

As the year draws to a close, Curbed SF asked bigwigs in San Francisco’s architectural, design, and x-factor/je ne sais quois industries to give us their thoughts on 2016, architecturally-speaking. Revealed here are trends that simply grew too tired.

Erin Feher (style and design editor, San Francisco Magazine)

Half-baked bike lanes (like those groundbreaking "raised" lanes that are all of one inch above the roadway and protected green lanes that end right before the traffic gets really gnarly); fiddle leaf figs, all white walls and sheepskin rugs—I know, I'm a bitter old design shrew.

Allison Arieff (editorial director, SPUR)

NIMBYism. Enough already.

Richie Nakano (chef and restaurateur)

I was bummed to see restaurant design go back in the direction of Edison light bulbs and faux old timey-ness. I thought we had ditched that a couple of years ago. Restaurant design in general seemed to be pretty weak this year. Too much sameness, fancy excess, and not enough personality and soul.

Jon McNeal and Sade Borghei (senior architect and project manager, Snøhetta)

It’s easy to spot the effects of budget-driven design on buildings of all scales from stucco covered housing developments to glass towers, all of which rely on shallow, inexpensive moves to try to break-down mass and provide some interest. When you look at the wealth, talent, and energy in San Francisco, it seems like we should be able to expect and do better. In comparison, the new architecture in New York generally far exceeds the average new work in SF.

There is no single cause in which we could point a finger at developers, architects, the City, or the public. But all of us need to hold the private and public sector to elevated standards that reflect the city’s current strength and ideals. It is high time for San Francisco to leverage its capital (financial and human) to build exceptional works of urbanism and architecture. We have all the tools at hand, we just need to use them.

John King (urban design critic, San Francisco Chronicle)

“Sick” is too strong a word, but at this point we are seeing the limits of tactical urbanism. Yes, it can create fun niches along the street or in plazas. But a parklet here and a food truck there is no match for the larger forces that undercut the potential of what our civic realm should be.

Rendering of the striped building proposed for 16th Street
San Francisco-based D-Scheme’s gorgeous original design was deemed too outlandish; this is the latest look for the 16th Street proposal.
Rendering by Dscheme

Brock Keeling (editor, Curbed SF)

The watering down of residential and commercial designs in order to appease denizen who proudly confuse “bold” with “unattractive” and “striking” with “garish.” This trend will have deeply disastrous effects for years to come. However, it’s a more complicated issue than that, one that I won’t go into here. Read McNeal and Borghei’s take above. Then read it again.

David Baker (architect/founder, David Baker Architects)

I'm tired of NIMBY “progressives” who oppose new housing in San Francisco, even if it's affordable.

A photo posted by ryan1085 (@ryan1085) on

Eve Batey (owner, Avenues Dry Goods; senior editor, SFist)

This seemed like the year that every business that uses a sidewalk sign got one of those tacky white ones with the sliding letters. I don't get it, is that type of sign's Midwestern church picnicness supposed to be ironically cool? Because it's not. Stick with the standard chalkboard, guys. Those white sliders are tacky as shit, and their ubiquity means that any normcore edge they might have once has is gone.

Kevin K. Ho and Jonathan B. McNarry (realtors, Vanguard Properties)

Developers, remodelers or contractors who still don’t know the critical importance of LED light temperature in remodeling properties for sale and for their clients.

By this point in time you should know the difference between in how LED light appears depending on what ‘temperature’ it is. Fixtures or bulbs emitting light with a color temperature of 2700K, for example, are putting out light that looks like incandescent bulb light; 3000K is as close you can get to a halogen bulb with spectrum ‘full’ daylight bulbs topping out at 5000-5500K.

While it may seem to be a distinction without a difference light temperature matters! Many contractors indiscriminately buy the bargain-priced 4000K fixture, install them and wonder why their blue-light bathed house flips are flops. And that poor choice will endure as these bulbs and fixtures can go a decade without burning out. And worse yet is that high temperature LED blue light has been shown to disrupt sleep patterns potentially too.