Historic Preservation Commission - May 3, 2017 - Minutes

Meeting Date: 
May 3, 2017 - 1:00pm



Meeting Minutes

Commission Chambers Room 400,
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place
San Francisco, CA 94102-4689

Wednesday, May 3, 2017
1:00 p.m.
Architectural Review Committe


COMMISSIONERS PRESENT:   Hyland, Hasz, Pearlman


STAFF IN ATTENDANCE:  Eiliesh Tuffy, Tim Frye – Historic Preservation Officer, Jonas P. Ionin – Commission Secretary

+ indicates a speaker in support of an item;

  • indicates a speaker in opposition to an item; and

= indicates a neutral speaker or a speaker who did not indicate support or opposition.

1. 2016-007523COA                                                               (E. TUFFY: (415) 575-9191)
200 LARKIN STREET – located on the east side of Larkin Street between McAllister and Fulton Streets, Assessor's Block 0353, Lot 001 (District 6) - Request for Review and Comment by the Architectural Review Committee regarding the proposal to make interior alterations within areas designated as significant, and to construct a new one-story vertical addition (approximately 13,000 sq ft) with a programmed roof terrace and a new freight elevator at the eastern boundary of the lot, fronting onto Hyde Street, as an addition at the rear of the Asian Art Museum. Currently, the project is undergoing environmental review pursuant to the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). Historically known as the Main Public Library, the Asian Art Museum is a contributing resource to the Civic Center Landmark District, which is designated in Appendix J of Article 10 of the San Francisco Planning Code. The site is located in a P (Public) Zoning District and 80-X Height and Bulk District.
Preliminary Recommendation: Review and Comment

SPEAKERS: = Eiliesh Tuffy – Staff report
+ Speaker – Project presentation
+ Speaker
+ Jay Xu – Support
ACTION: Reviewed and Commented

1. Design approach.  The Committee members felt the design had come a long way from their last review and supported the team’s new direction towards greater compatibility with the Beaux Arts style of the landmark district. Overall, the Committee supported staff’s recommendations in the areas requested for additional study and consideration.

The project design, as currently proposed, appears to conform to Secretary of the Interior’s Standard #9. The new design direction bears a much stronger relationship to the character-defining Beaux Arts architecture of the district, specifically being a base plinth aligned with the bases of other buildings in the district.

2. Scale and Proportion.   The Committee members acknowledged that the current project was limited in scope and budget to a one-story exhibition hall. The 1987 façade analysis of buildings in the district provides data for the various components of the Beaux Arts style exteriors, including the uniform tri-partite treatment of facades in the district. The Commissioners commented that those data points should be studied in the redesign of the addition’s exterior cladding.

In relation to the overall building form, a reduction of the asymmetrical massing at the rooftop (See Sponsor Packet, pages 18, 26-27 & 36) was encouraged in order to reinforce the strong, unbroken horizontal massing that is characteristic of buildings in the district. The overall height and placement of the mechanical screen should be kept to a minimum to avoid creating a large asymmetrical mass on the roof. Reduction in height and an increased setback for the north-facing mechanical screen could be explored to aid in reducing its visual prominence.  

If rooftop storage is needed, the sponsor could explore more discreet locations at less publicly visible portions of the roof. Alternate storage locations on the roof could include the west end of the mechanical screen and the sheltered south edge of the roof terrace (under the Gae Aulenti walkway), possibly adjacent to or even behind an outdoor bar that is built-out to accommodate such a space.

3. Fenestration.  The introduction of glazed fenestration along the Hyde Street elevation was well received by the Committee, who commented that the windows added an element of surprise that would activate an otherwise dead area between McAllister and the Fulton Mall. The Committee supported staff’s recommendation to further explore the constructability of the angled glazing system to determine how the framing components required for execution would affect the overall design intent upon installation. This information should be provided as part of the packet for the full Historic Preservation Commission’s review.

The continuous, faceted glazing would introduce a new fenestration type at a building base within the district that is a departure from the prevailing pattern of regularized punched window openings. The compatibility of a bay window in a non-residential area was raised with no unanimous consensus on behalf of the Committee. However, the Committee appreciated the current design for its architectural interest and commented that even if the windows specifically do not comply, the overall approach fits within the surrounding context of other building plinths and could be considered in compliance with the guidelines for review.

The progression of change over time within the district through contemporary additions was touched upon, citing that the ca.1999 glass walkway reads differently nearly 20 years later, and that the current design could as well 20 years into the future. While there was consensus on the introduction of glazing along Hyde Street, it was acknowledged there were various possible approaches for its implementation. While an alternate study was presented to show a more traditional punched opening fenestration treatment, it was disregarded for its asymmetric placement of the windows.

The project team was encouraged to study existing window mullions in the district and how they are framed within the exterior cladding – noting the detailing of other windows on historic building bases. While not a unanimous sentiment from the reviewers, it was suggested that the project team could study some alternative material or finish such as frosting or a fritted patterning for the flat exterior wall surfaces located between each of the angled window “bays” that could read as solid at least during daylight hours. 

The proposed ground floor vitrines were viewed favorably as a potential tool for enhancing the pedestrian experience at the ground floor. However, it was unclear to some of the committee members that there were distinct vitrines in this location rather than simply a material added to the surface of the wall. The materiality of those vitrines was briefly touched upon, with a desire to see a durable material that does not simply read as a billboard was stressed.

The addition of fenestration to the elevator tower was suggested as a treatment at the July 2016 meeting as a tie-in with the McAllister Street fenestration. This design element was incorporated into the new design, but was not part of the detailed discussion at the May 3 meeting.

4. Materials. The proposed faceted gray terra cotta tile was found to be an appropriate material to create compatibility between the new contemporary addition and the existing granite and terra cotta-clad historic buildings in the district.

The materiality of the proposed elevator tower was a topic raised at the July 2016 meeting, but was not a focus of the May 3 meeting discussions. The desire of the Committee members in 2016 was to have the team explore how the cladding of the elevator tower could be better incorporated into the overall exterior design.

5. Color. The proposed palette of a few different, but closely related gray tones was found to be in keeping with the tonality of façade materials and finishes in the landmark district. The green framing on the non-historic elevated glass walkway was raised, with Committee members inquiring as to whether repainting it a gray could be beneficial within the overall project scope.

6. Details. The rooftop railing was discussed. It was noted that the proposed horizontal fritting did not align with the large compositional bands of the historic cornice profile. Suggested design options included: 1. Reversing the existing pattern to have the wider sections between the joint lines fritted 2. Using simple clear glass to match the café railing was viewed favorably, and 3. Allowing the cladding material to terminate on its own. The committee agreed that the clear glass was a complimentary solution that could strengthen its relationship to the café.

The Committee supported removal of the NE planter at the intersection of Hyde & McAllister to avoid having trash collect in that area. To alleviate the pedestrian experience of a tall granite wall at the sidewalk, the Committee suggested considering adding an etched design component or utilizing the corner for designed wayfinding for the Museum to indicate the location of the main building entrance.

7. Interior Alterations. These should be fully outlined in the Historic Preservation Commission packet submittal, in terms of their relation to historic fabric in the designated interior spaces.

LETTER: 0077