Historic Preservation Commission - December 6, 2017 - Minutes

Meeting Date: 
December 6, 2017 - 11:30am



Meeting Minutes

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

Wednesday, December 6, 2017
11:30 a.m.
Architectural Review Committe




STAFF IN ATTENDANCE:  Natalia Kwiatkowska, Jonathan Vimr, 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. 2017-009220COA                                                               (N. KWIATKOWSKA: (415) 575-9185)
DPW TOILET AND KIOSK REPLACEMENT – located at Coit Tower (City Landmark No. 165), Washington Square Park (City Landmark No. 226), Civic Center Landmark District, Jackson Square Landmark District, Kearny-Market-Mason-Sutter Conservation District, New Montgomery-Mission-Second Street Conservation District, Kearny-Belden Conservation District, and Pine-Sansome Conservation District. Review and Comment before the Architectural Review Committee on the proposed replacement of the existing non-historic public toilets and kiosks located in the public right-of-way or on lots owned and operated by the Recreation and Park Department. The project proposes to remove and replace a total of 25 public toilets and 114 kiosks spread throughout the City of San Francisco. Of the total, 6 public toilets and 34 kiosks are located within the boundaries of Article 10 and Article 11 landmarks, landmark districts, and conservation districts. 
Preliminary Recommendation: Review and Comment

SPEAKERS: = Natalia Kwiatkowska – Staff report
+ Edgar Lopez, DPW Architect – Project presentation
+ Boris Stramor – Project Presentation
+ Francois Neon – Project presentation
+ Julia Dawson – Response to questions


Reviewed and Commented

Recommendations on Overall Relationship
The ARC concurs with the staff determination that the proposed contemporary design, although not faux historic, does not improve on the relationship with the adjacent landmarks and surroundings districts. The current proposal reads utilitarian and not unique to San Francisco. Commission Hyland suggested some ideas to explore as this design evolves further, he stated: “there’s an opportunity to really define the base, cap, and a body of the design, which I think this lacks, and the shape, footprint”.

  • The ARC stated they are open to a contemporary design; however, the Project Sponsor should further evolve this design and define the base, body, cap, shape, and footprint of the structures to better relate the structures to their context.
  • The ARC finds that the proposed design worsens the relationship with the Coit Tower and Civic Center specifically. The public toilets at Coit Tower and Civic Center should receive special treatment to better relate to the adjacent landmarks and surrounding districts.  

Recommendations on Form and Massing
The ARC concurs with the staff determination that the rounded shape is in greater conformance with the Standards than the proposed rectangular form and massing. Commission Pearlman expressed that the rounded shape reduces the perception of the volume, he stated: “I agree with the notion, that by making them rectilinear, it does completely change the way you see them, because any curved surface, of course there’s the sense of going around the corner, the sense that this is actually smaller than it actually is because of that shape”.

  • Further, the ARC finds that the round shape is more compatible with adjacent landmarks and surrounding districts due to the apparent smaller massing that allows the structures to fit better and compliment the surrounding resources.
  • The ARC finds that the public toilets at Coit Tower and Civic Center specifically should remain rounded in form and massing to relate to their context.

Recommendations on Materials and Color
The ARC disagrees with staff’s determination to recommend the proposed gray color for all of the locations. Commission Hyland expressed a desire to change the material and color of the proposed structures, he stated: “I think the stainless steel is probably not the direction, something a little more baked enamel, whether it’s the green or the brown, or some combination”.

  • The ARC finds that a medium to darker color be more appropriate for the proposed public toilets and kiosks.
  • Also, the ARC finds the proposed stainless steel material to be incompatible and the Project Sponsor will need to select alternate materials that better relate to the adjacent landmarks and surrounding districts.

Recommendations on Reversibility
The ARC concurs with staff’s determination that the proposed public toilets and kiosks are reversible and overall supports the project.

Site Specific Recommendations

Recommendations on Coit Tower
The ARC concurs with staff’s determination that relocating the public toilet farther away from the Coit Tower would bring the project in greater conformance with the Standards.

  • The ARC recommends moving the existing public toilet or applying a special treatment to the design in this specific location in addition to retaining a rounded shape.

Recommendations on Washington Square Park
The ARC concurs with staff’s determination and supports a single-stall public toilet at Washington Square Park. Commission Hyland asked whether the public toilet was necessary in this location. The Project Sponsor explained that the public toilet is necessary since the recently expanded public toilet at the northwest corner of the park is closed during the night.

  • The ARC recommends the public toilet at Washington Square Park remain a single-stall toilet.

Recommendations on Civic Center
The ARC concurs with staff’s determination that the size of the public toilet at Civic Center Plaza should not increase, since any larger structure would overwhelm the open space and compete with the recently approved Civic Center Kiosk to be located adjacent to the existing public toilet. Commission Pearlman pointed out the Civic Center Kiosk project includes large mechanical vent tubes, which feature a rounded shape and design that respects and compliments the surrounding district. Commission Pearlman recommended that the public toilets at Civic Center and Coit Tower receive special treatment to seem as updated designs instead of new replacement structures when they’re changed so “#1: it won’t be so impactful, and #2: it will be compatible with the elements that are there in the plaza”.

  • The Project Sponsor should apply a special treatment to the design in this specific location in addition to retaining a rounded shape to bring the project further into conformance with the Standards.

The Project Sponsor expressed a desire to propose two single-stall toilets in two separate structures instead of the proposed larger, double-stall public toilet. Although the ARC finds that the replacement public toilet should not increase in size, the ARC is open to two, single-stall toilets instead of one larger, double-stall toilet.
The Project Sponsor should explore other locations along the perimeter of the plaza if adding a second, single-stall public toilet that will not overwhelm the open space or compete with pedestrian axis corridors.

2. 2014.0914E                                                                                            (J. VIMR: (415) 575-9109)
1033 POLK STREET – located on the west side of Polk Street between Post and Cedar Streets, Assessor’s Block 0694, Lots 003 (District 3).  Review and Comment before the Architectural Review Committee on the proposed preservation alternatives in advance of publication of the Draft Environmental Impact Report for the proposed project. The project proposes to: demolish the existing building and construct a new mixed-use development. The project includes an 8-story residential tower with ground level commercial space at the intersection of Polk and Cedar Streets (Height: 98-ft). The Polk Street frontage will have retail on the ground floor, bicycle parking access, and an entrance to residential lobby and elevator. The project would provide a total of 19 dwelling units, 445 square feet of ground floor retail space, and 19 bicycle parking spaces. The building at 1033 Polk Street is considered to be an historic resource for the purposes of the California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA). The project site is located within a RC-4 (Residential-Commercial, High Density) Zoning District, 130-V Height and Bulk District, the Van Ness Special Use District, and the Lower Polk Alcohol Restricted Use Special Use District. 
Preliminary Recommendation: Review and Comment

SPEAKERS: = Jonathan Vimr – Staff report
+ Speaker – Project presentation
+ Speaker – Project presentation
= David Silverman – Point of clarification


Reviewed and Commented
At the ARC meeting, the Department and Sponsor requested ARC’s feedback on the adequacy of the proposed preservation alternatives and district compatible project design being developed to address the anticipated significant impact to 1033 Polk Street. Department Preservation staff has prepared a summary of the ARC comments.

Although the Commissioners had some concerns regarding the full preservation and partial preservation alternatives, they felt that each was largely satisfactory. In their discussion of the district compatible alternative, however, the Commissioners called for a variety of changes that would result in an improved analysis and a better preservation alternative. Specifically, Commissioner Hyland noted that the subject building could withstand being incorporated into a taller, vertical addition without any substantial setbacks; although the resulting significant impact would nonetheless remain. Commissioner Pearlman commented that while the proposed district compatible design has appropriate massing, scale, and proportions, its compatibility is diminished by the architectural base. The ARC recommended that to improve the district compatible design, the project sponsor should consider retaining the east and south facades of the existing building, designing a horizontal break, and completing the vertical project behind and above out to the property lines. This would allow the project to better respond to and reflect the surrounding context as was done with the mixed-use development at 1601-1637 Market Street. The Commissioners noted that such a design would constitute a demolition but result in an improved solution that retains the character-defining features of the historic building’s facades and better relates to the surrounding context.