Every September (save last year when our daughter was born) we attend the San Francisco home tour, hosted by the SF Chapter of AIA or The American Institute of Architects. For the past several years they have partnered with Dwell magazine to help bolster exposure for the design community. The tour is one aspect of the month-long “Architecture and the City” festival, promoting design & architecture through film, exhibitions, lectures and the aforementioned 2-day residential tour.
Here’s how it works.
You purchase tickets online – http://www.aiasf.org/hometours
Then on the tour weekend we choose our route and walk / bike / drive through our amazing city to tour a select few architectural gems (projects are submitted by architects, and chosen by a panel of AIA representatives). Of course, during the walk-through you must be respectful (shoes off, no photos or opening cabinets or closed doors), as these are lived-in properties and we do our best to respect the owners’ spaces. During the weekend a typical home gets over ..approximately 500 tour guests.
The intent is to inspire, to educate and to promote our clients to think about design in all of it’s terms.
From the 10 residences I was able to examine, only 3x left me with an impression. I’ll be brief.
1-Mission Residence: Interstice Architects. Rarely do you get to meet the client, contractor and architect- even more so, rarely are they ever the same person. Truth be told, that is the best combo. Who best would know your aesthetic taste, budgetary constraints, and to implement the rigid construction details, than you?
The living area of this industrial warehouse could be considered a tight space for a family. However, the layout & materials were cleverly planned and it was apparent that the clients lived and used the space with storage and children’s artwork placement taking priority on all levels. Not an sq. inch was wasted. The whole thing seemed fresh, effective & attainable. Andrew, the architect was open and genuine. We spent a bit talking to him and we found that he set a wonderful tone for our day’s expedition.
2-Portrero Hill Residence: Nick Noyes Architecture. This 4 story remodel was pure elegance. It was evident that budget was not an issue. The details & construction were immaculate and the finishes / materials were tasteful, and gracefully consistent throughout the house. Amongst the sweeping views, & the exquisite art installations, stood a well appointed kitchen that seemed intuitive and functional without being staunch.The use of glass in the space was very inspiring (you will have to see for yourself). The layout and finishes gave the property an even sense of light.
I ran into Nick as we were leaving, he was poised and clearly enjoying himself.
3-Oriental Warehouse: Edmonds + Lee Architects. Believe it or not- we were considering not attending this residence all together. It was the end of the day. Our disinterest in touring loft spaces is generally due to the cookie-cutter, spec-built SOMA warehouses that have been popping up everywhere, over the past 10 years — they seem to lack imagination and sense of place.
But alas, we pushed through, and I’m glad we did — this property may have been the best of the day.
For me, the bathrooms in this place were worth the price of admission- back-painted glass, and a master shower so big, one could perform cartwheels. After your acrobatics in the sexy bat-cave-esque shower, you could peer through the smoke colored glass into the master bedroom. Impressive. This space was refined & discerning – with only a slight hint of the industrial era that existed previously.
I find the tour a great way to spend the weekend gallivanting around the city and getting inspired from projects, who’s owners and architects are motivated to do great work for the sake of building well designed spaces. See you next year.
Photo Credit: Dwell / AIAsf Handbook