HAYES VALLEY SKY RISE
A constructed intervention in a city is an opportunity for comment, delineation, instruction, confiscation, abrogation; and housing as a building type can sometimes have subtler and more sublime effects than larger, civic ones. The future challenges for living in San Francisco are an increasing population, increasing density, an economy dependent on novel industries, and undeterred homelessness; these are macroscopic. And what of Hayes Valley? Hayes Valley’s history was of a neighborhood sheared. We are never living in the city of the present, we inhabit the infinitely long edge that creases the future and the past. The idea of the freeway was once the symbol of utopia, and now it signifies dystopia. This is instructive in thinking about our present utopian freeway—the information one—and it’s impermanence. The intensity of the old Central Freeway cursed it’s neighbors with sights and sounds but it can also be said it gave physical form to the aspirations of the city, a manifestation of civic consciousness. This can also be said of architecture, though once “architecture” becomes “building” it typically becomes an artifact of the past. Infrastructure, on the other hand, outlines potentials. An architecture that can straddle the crease between the two will have a better chance at being flexible enough to change with the city, to stay up-to-date.
This “sky rise” brings living and social life up from the ground plane while attempting to address all of the issues San Francisco faces. The ribbed structure allows for interchangeable program/events at each floor, awaiting future undiscovered uses. But whether it can address the issues of the city or not, it’s formal break out from it’s surroundings could provoke a conversation about them. The “architecture ceases to be a backdrop for actions, it becomes the action itself”, as Tschumi wrote. It hopes to be an architecture that supports all use and expansion, that directs and unleashes the future, a future where even the sky is no longer the limit but the starting line.