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Year in review: Trends we hope to see in 2018

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From Market Street to modular housing

Photo by Sean Pavone

As the year draws to a close, Curbed SF asked informed locals in architectural, design, and x-factor industries to give us their thoughts on the year ahead, revealing what they would like to see in 2018.


Anne Fougeron (architect/founder, Fougeron Architecture):

As-of-right zoning. Meet code and get approved by planning in two months! Why does it takes 18 months to get planning approval for a single family home remodel? That is not making SF more affordable or more fun. Better building always! Substantial, timeless and innovative.

Victoria Fierce (organizer with East Bay for Everyone):

More apartment buildings in single family home exclusive neighborhoods. Seattle's taken lead on this, I think. They're rad. Just thinking off the top of my head of where I'd like to see this happen in the Bay Area—Rockridge maybe? Yeah, Rockridge. It couples well with the big social justice movements of recent years targeted at dismantling systems of oppression through land use.

Richie Nakano (chef, restaurateur, consultant at ChefsFeed):

WeWork buildings seized and made into housing for the homeless.

John King (urban design critic, San Francisco Chronicle):

Construction prices dropping, affordable housing rising.

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David Baker (architect/founder, David Baker Architects):

I'd like to see the SF Fire Department modernize their thinking and align more with the SFMTA and the Planning Department's move toward a beautiful, walkable, safe city. Emergency Services should absolutely be prepared to respond in case of disaster, but they shouldn't have to respond to so many car collisions that could have been avoided by a more flexible, safe street design. They're coming from a traditional viewpoint that severely negatively impacts the urban fabric. It's time to adapt to a more holistic, data-driven approach to health and safety, getting us to Vision Zero.

Adam Brinklow (associate editor, Curbed SF):

I'm hoping more cities give modular building a shot. I'm not completely convinced it will work wonders as promised, but trying something new sure beats sitting around and wishing on a star that things work out.

Marcel Wilson (founder/design director, Bionic; 2017 Curbed Groundbreaker):

I want to see Market Street change. I’d love to see it become a great street again and not have to wait a decade. I want all those people out there suffering not to suffer. I want a place to sit. These prototyping festivals happen and then they go away—let’s make the festival’s ideas more permanent.

Sally Kuchar (cities director, Curbed):

I would like to see a trend of people under 40 being able to purchase homes without significant outside help from wealthy parents or things of that nature. I am a San Francisco native with a household income of over $125,000, and I can barely afford to rent an apartment (which is why we moved into a more spacious unit in Berkeley recently).

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

More creative and smarter use of LED lighting. Our clients know that we will mention LED take lights and channels within 5 minutes of us looking at how a house can be spruced up and modernized. Smarter use of LED lights is part of the larger trend we’re starting to see from sellers, flippers and developers who are trying to distinguish their properties to an increasingly demanding and discerning buyer pool. The hope is that this will mean smarter design and more thoughtful homes that are increasingly clever with more automation and tech.

Allison Arieff (editorial director, SPUR):

I'd love to see architects push the envelope a bit more on multi-family housing. Let David Baker Architects be your guide. Also cheering on the YIMBYs.

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

Residential parklets. Our houses are rarely designed with front yards, and I think some more social activation of residential areas could be cool. Plus, I will continue to say this every year until it actually happens: Fully separated, continuous bike infrastructure! Some good additions have been made, but we have a long way to go.

Jon de la Cruz (interior architecture and design, DLC-ID):

I long for color, and softness! I would love for people to get back into dressing their windows with beautiful curtains. Not old stuffy heavy drapes from the 80s, but clean, diaphanous, and breezy sheers and textures that soften a room and filter light. Everyone continues to rip out window treatments and opt for boring shades and it just makes me think the room is undressed.

Malo Huston (professor of urban planning, UC Berkeley):

Construction of more housing that is affordable for families, those just starting their careers, and the homeless. 2) See the proliferation of small independent businesses that serve inexpensive locally sourced healthy food in neighborhoods with high levels of food insecurity. 3) More investment in the built environment that supports walking, biking, and taking public transit.

Mark Jensen (principal architect, Jensen Architects):

No more walking down the street with your head in your phone. Not a good look! Cities are meant to be lived in. Put your phone away and engage with your fellow citizens!