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 we must see in 2017.
John King (urban design critic, San Francisco Chronicle)
Suburban NIMBYs realize that 4-6-8-story building aren’t exactly the equivalent of Salesforce Tower in terms of height and massive presence. Nor will a few subsidized housing neighborhoods ruin your property values. To quote the immortal Mel on The Great British Bake Off: “Get a grip. Get a ruddy grip.”
Eve Batey (owner, Avenues Dry Goods; senior editor, SFist)
I believe that a neighborhood can only be vital when it has people living there—which, I know, isn't a problem in San Francisco, and yet we regularly hear about full apartments kept vacant so they can instead be used as short-terms rentals (Airbnbs, VRBOs, etc.). I am hopeful that in 2017, regulations from the city and from the short-term rental companies themselves will lead to these residences' release back into the full-time housing market, either by the property owners or the people on the lease who are shadily subletting to tourists. While building new housing is important, ensuring that our existing housing is occupied should also be a priority.
Allison Arieff (editorial director, SPUR)
A little more density, please? We'll never ease the housing shortage by building multi-unit at 4 stories when we could have built at 6. Or 8. Or 10.
Kevin K. Ho and Jonathan B. McNarry (realtors, Vanguard Properties)
On a more practical level: more voice-activated smart home technologies.
Jon McNeal and Sade Borghei (senior architect and project manager, Snøhetta)
It would be great if more people who move to the area could look at the region with longer timelines so they will invest in their surroundings through the built environment, improved infrastructure, and an appreciation for the arts. People have moved here since the Gold Rush to make their fortune, but those early days were also paired with a sense of civic responsibility and cultural development that helped to establish a regional and national identity. We need that long horizon today too.
Don’t move here because it’s a hot market; move because you like it here and want to make it better by engaging your surroundings and investing your energy and ideas. Affordable housing is an important part of this. It’s hard for people to imagine staying if they can’t afford to raise a family here.
Brock Keeling (editor, Curbed SF)
Splatterware by Heath Ceramics; Stanley Saitowitz’s take on maximalism.
Richie Nakano (chef and restaurateur)
I'm not even sure its possible given the current real estate market, but I would love to see smaller, more personal places open in some of the outlying neighborhoods. In 2016 everything was so big and expensive, and on the restaurant side of that it meant that a lot of places failed. Small places. With heart and soul. And not some fast-casual garbage. I sound like a very specific borderline crazy NIMBY.
David Baker (architect/founder, David Baker Architects)
The Byzantine San Francisco approval process will be further simplified by the ongoing State of California policies to increase the supply of all kinds of housing—both affordable and market rate.
Erin Feher (style and design editor, San Francisco Magazine)
Real, comprehensive biking infrastructure; urban design that emphasizes quality of street-level life over shiny new structures; less condo blocks, more creatively planned high-density communities. Oh, and boldly patterned sofas and statement-making ’70s style sectionals. Our living rooms deserve better than beige and gray.