Blog Archives - AM Musings
 
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Left Costco Right Bed Bath & Beyond
These two buildings were built over 10 years ago and at about the same time.  They also sit a block apart on Bryant Street between 10th and 9th Streets.  Both are about the same size filling the length of an entire block and both are built of alternating rows of smooth and split faced concrete block. 

Originally they were almost identical in appearance.  So similar was the concrete block detailing, I suspected they were designed by the same firm.   

The Costco building at the left maintains its original appearance.  The Bed Bath & Beyond building was changed rather drastically about 2 years after it was built.  In addition to painting the building and adding foam molding to the surface, large steel green cage like elements were added at the corner and entrance.  It hasn't aged well.  There's nothing convincing about the applied molding that is glued on the face of the building.  Now it's starting to deteriorate and is showing cracks.  Like bad plastic surgery, it begs for another face lift.


 
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Brera Museum Handrail - Milan, Italy
 

Continuing my exploration of handrails, here is one at the Brera Museum in Milan.  Filled with important renaissance masterpieces, it is probably the most important museum in Milan.  This handrail bracket is fanciful and ornate in a good way.  
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Lamentation Over the Dead Christ Andrea Mantegna 1480
My personal favorite painting in the Brera is the Lamentation over the Dead Christ by Andrea Mantegna c. 1480.  It show a complete mastery of foreshortening, perspective, and emotion.  A great masterpiece, it is only one of many in the museum.

 
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Happy Father's Day to our fathers who we hold dear in our hearts and to our children who say the word, "DAD!"
 
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I had dinner this week at Shanghai Dumpling King (great xiao long bao) in the outer Richmond this week with a college friend who lives in Paris.  After dinner it was still light and since we were close to the ocean, we decided to take a walk at Ocean Beach.  There were a large groups of people out enjoying the first warm weather we've had in a while.  Beach fires perfumed the air, laughter sang out, and people were having a good time.

My friend talked about the natural beauty of San Francisco and the beauty of the sunset here.  The ocean waves, Mount Tamalpais, and golden rays of light - I take it all for granted.   Nice to  see it through a visitor's eyes.  We watched the sun dip below the horizon and moved on to a cafe.
 
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Zoe Soo Ahn June 15, 2011
Welcome Zoe Soo Ahn 7 lbs. 12 oz.  Proud parents, Andrew and Lynn Ahn
 
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Folsom Street Shadows
Down, back, right, forty-five degrees was the mantra.  That was the angle of the sun we used to cast shadows in architecture school.  At that angle, the length of a object's shadow would be the same length as the object itself.  The shadow would be at a forty-five degree angle on the adjacent surface (if the surface is flat and perpendicular to the object).  If the surfaces receiving the shadow were on varying planes, then the shadow shifts and modulates defining its features.  Light and shadow define how we see form and therefore how we see architecture.  See an example below of how we cast shadows by hand did it by hand.


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Beaux Arts Shades and shadow
 

I was among the very last generation of students who received formal training in the Beaux Arts technique of casting and rendering shades and shadows.  Considered quaint and outdated, it was soon cast aside in favor of more relevant coursework.    This illustration is from a 1896 translation by Julian Millard from a Beaux Arts text, "Shades and Shadows".  See an on-line version here.    

Quaint yes, but at Mock/Wallace, when I use free software like Google Sketchup to cast shadows, I still use the classic down, back, right forty-five degrees. 
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San Francisco Civic Center Lantern
Postscript:  I'm glad I don't have to draw this shadow. 

 
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Pine Street Paella















I was re-connecting with an acquaintance and after all these years he still remembers having Paella at my home.  Paella is my dish when I want to make something special for guests.  In my first trip to Barcelona, Spain I eagerly tried paella only to be  disappointed.  The undercooked rice tasted raw and hard and the entire dish didn't have much flavor.  I decided to try making it myself.  I first learned to make paella from the New York Times Cookbook by Craig Claibornne with mixed results.  The rice was either undercooked or burnt and the chicken was either undercooked or overcooked and dry.  

Through trial and error, I've learned to refine the technique so that the different ingredients are cooked properly and added at separate times.  For many years I used a Chinese wok which actually works quite well.  A few years ago, I found the Spanish Table Store in Berkeley and bought a flat paella pan.  Now I was serious!  There are many different versions of paella and the combination seafood, chorizo, chicken with clams and mussels is pretty elaborate and is probably a restaurant version rather than an "authentic" country version. 

An "authentic"  paella is cooked outdoors over a wood fire and usually uses fewer local ingredients and the rice plays the major role.  Most people are familiar with a restaurant versions such as mine.   Click here for my recipe.
 
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Miller's Pastrami Sandwich - San Francisco
















I had my first "real" pastrami sandwich at the famous Carnegie Deli in Manhattan - piled high and impossibly delicious. Katie always ordered the Chicken Soup, Alex always wants a piece of cheesecake, and Chris wants the dill pickles. Too bad it's so far away.

Ted, at Mock/Wallace Architects is the "Pastrami King" and blogs about all things pastrami at this blog-site.  He'll tell you everything you want to know about Pastrami in the Bay Area and beyond.  He says Millers East Coast Deli  has the best Pastrami in San Francisco.  When Alex suggested going there last week, I said "YES!"   How does it compare to Carnegie? -- close. . . 
 
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Kaiser French Campus - Paffard Keatinge Clay
I take a class at the Kaiser French Campus on Geary Blvd every Wednesday evening.  Now painted in earth tones, these buildings at the French Campus were originally painted white to emphasize the structural purity as envisioned by the architect Paffard Keatinge Clay.  Paffard Keatinge Clay who now lives and works in Spain, lived in San Francisco during the 1960's and 1970's.  He was my design professor at UC Berkeley.  I hadn't thought about his class for a long time, but recently I remembered how influential he was during my student years. 
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Tamalpais Pavillion - Paffard Keatinge Clay
  He was passionate architect and had a lot of energy.  I know now he cared alot about teaching and his students.  A native of England, he talked about building  a flat platform to sleep near the giant stone pillars at Stonehenge  -- experiencing the power of the site and the making of a structure.  He had worked at the giant architectural firm of SOM designing and developing large projects using post-tensioned concrete, a relatively new technique at the time.

While living in the Bay Area, he built a post-tensioned concrete house for his family on Mount Tamalpais in Marin County.   He invited a small group of students to visit.  

It was my first real exposure to an architect using his own home as a laboratory for architecture.  Broad flat plans of raw concrete and glass perched on the side of a mountain accentuated the feeling of time and space.  The sharp contrast of concrete and nature was accentuated by 0ver-hanging terraced  balconies with no railing.  The danger of falling intensified the feeling of life.  Quite an experience for a young naive student.  He served filtered coffee from an hourglass shaped chemex carafe, a design featured in the Museum of Modern Art.  Oh this was the life of an architect?  I couldn't wait. 

 
 
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Peonies at Trader Joe's - San Francisco
Getting my lunch at Trader Joe's, I saw the first peonies this year. Their gracious colors and ruffled and multiple petal count are pleasing to the eye. It's nice when something is only available for a short period of time. You appreciate it more when you anticipate them and then remember them after they are gone.  Or, perhaps they're a pleasant surprise when they appear.

Chris has tried to grow peonies in our Pine Street garden, but the conditions aren't quite right and they don't bloom.  She said she will try again one day as someone told her the "secret" to making peonies grow in San Francisco is to "trick" them into thinking there is a freezing winter here.  You trick them by putting ice around the base of the plant during our "winter".   SFGate also had an article about growing peonies in the Bay Area.  Check this out here.    If I chill, perhaps I too will bloom.