'Unbuilt SF' offers remembrances of futures past
UC Berkeley NewsCenter
04 October 2013
Imagine the possibilities for what the Bay Area might have looked like, if not for the changes of funding, politics, taste, mortality or chance. “Unbuilt San Francisco,” a collaborative exhibit showing at UC Berkeley and four San Francisco locations, presents a unique look at visions that never materialized as part of the Bay Area’s urban landscape.
The 46 designs currently on view at Wurster Hall are all for buildings and sites accessible to the public, notes exhibition co-curator Waverly Lowell, head of the campus’s Environmental Design Archives. That way, she says, it’s easy to compare the built and unbuilt versions. “People can go ‘Oh my god, it could have looked like that!’”
Unrealized proposals for Yerba Buena Center, Crissy Field, the Ferry Building, a dual football-baseball stadium at China Basin, San Francisco City Hall, the Transbay Terminal and the San Francisco Mint, among others, are on view at the Wurster Hall gallery. Visitors can also see for themselves the shift in representation styles between the early 20th and 21st centuries, from Beaux Arts-style washes to 21st-century digital images.
Sometimes, notes Lowell, “it’s because the drawings are beautiful” that one design prevails over competing plans. “The rendering part is really important, because the client doesn’t read the plans; the client looks at the drawing.”
“Unbuilt San Francisco: Ambition and Imagination” is open from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. Wednesday through Saturday, through Nov. 8, in 110 Wurster. Collaborating organizations, in addition to the Environmental Design Archives, are the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, AIA San Francisco Center for Architecture and Design, the California Historical Society and the San Francisco Public Library.
Image: UC Berkeley Environmental Design Archives