: views from the Hill

Saturday, July 01, 2006

A tiny house makeover on Telegraph Hill

Taking a break from sorting through papers and magazines.

Found a lively article in a year-old (June 2005) Dwell magazine that I hadn't got around to reading before.

(Yes, that is why the papers and magazines stack up ...)

The article by Deborah Bishop, Worth The Wait, focused on the makeover of a tiny little house on the south side of Telegraph Hill and all the travails the owners went through to work their plans through the planning process.

The house grew from 806 sq ft to 903 sq ft and in the process, the owners knocked down walls, excavated into the hill, poured a concrete retaining wall, and repurposed available square footage. The process was painful and took almost six years.

Some pulls from the article
  • ... Although the house had survived the great quake of 1906, its future was nearly undone by litigious neighbors who used their favorable easements to try to stymie construction: the local Telegraph Hill Dwellers association, whose members never met a bay window they didn't like (despite the original house's having none); and a backlogged planning commission.

    [Added note: As a member of THD, I can testify that THD is not the group-think "whose members" would imply. Honest! But I understand the perception. In fact that perception is probably the major problem THD faces as it tries to grow its membership from 600+ members (of which 50 or so live outside the boundaries the Dwellers claim) to something more representative of the number of people who live within the boundaries the Dwellers claim. But that's another story ...]

  • When architect Nilus de Matran's trilevel plan for a modern makeover came up against the obstructionist politics that defines construction in San Francisco, the house sat in limbo ...

  • After the original architect was ground down by the friction that met his plans for demolition and a radically modern makeover ...

Couldn't find the article at the Dwell Web site. Finally tracked down a PDF version at the architects' Web site, Holey Associates.

The article is worth a look, if only to get a feel for what people go through and how negative vibes can hang in the air, even after a project is finished.

Getting your pad profiled in Dwell complete with backhand swats at the people you think gave you such grief during the process must have some sort of nyaaah value.

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