The still magnificent 1971 Cathedral of St. Mary by noted architects Nervi and Belluschi was the venue for last night’s AIA San Francisco Design Awards. The evening’s big winner was EHDD, who garnered four awards.
Behind the architectural glam and glitter, lurked the back story of San Francisco’s Archbishop Cordelione, who has recently kicked the proverbial hornet’s nest with his anti-gay proclamations. The Cathedral, of course, is his turf and several architects reportedly boycotted the event in protest. To keep things even more interesting, the AIA tapped San Francisco Supervisor Scott Wiener as the evening’s emcee. As an openly gay politician, Wiener found himself in possession of the Archbishop’s pulpit for an hour or so. Could it have been the perfect opportunity to drop a verbal zinger on polarizing archbishop? I asked Supervisor Wiener if he had been tempted to do so; he said it did cross his mind but in the end the diplomatic pol took the high road and stuck to the awards ceremony script.
The Lands End Visitor Center by EHDD was a standout; this thoughtful, small structure sits gently on a picturesque promontory and frames the view compellingly. A case could be made that the building actually improves the view! EHDD additionally received awards for the UC Santa Cruz Biomedical Science building, the David and Lucile Packard Foundation, and (no surprise here) the Exploratorium at Pier 15.
WRNS Studio’s Boeddeker Park delightfully fills one acre in the Tenderloin neighborhood, where parks are desperately needed. The clubhouse WRNS placed in the corner of the park is small but packs a nice visual surprise.
The Shed by Jensen Architects instantly created a food and wine hub in the charming town of Healdsburg, CA. Taking cues from the barn archetype, Jensen has delivered a universally beloved spot in this Sonoma destination.
On the spiritual side, Aidlin Darling’s Windhover Contemplative Center on the Stanford campus has clearly redefined the old campus chapel. The Center incorporates Nathan Oliveira’s “Windover” series of paintings into the architecture, evoking the same integration of art and architecture as one finds in the great Gothic cathedrals yet within a firmly modernist aesthetic.
Timothy Pflueger’s masterpiece, 140 New Montgomery (fka Pacific Telephone & Telegraph), was exquisitely renovated by Perkins & Will. Yesterday’s high tech, the telephone company, has been replaced by Yelp in the beloved South of Market highrise.
Other winning firms included Cavagnero Associates, HOK, Ogyrdziak Prillinger, Skidmore Owings & Merrill, and Jones Haydu, to name a few.
Take a look at all the winners here.