Architect, Landscape Architect, Urban Designer, Land Use Planner, Environmental Observer

Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Tale of Two Cities ...

...and two buildings

...and two plazas

...and two architects

Federal Building
San Francisco

Thom Mayne, Architect


City Hall
San Jose

Richard Meier, Architect

Two public buidlings - full of beauracrats. Both architects are of world class stature and absolutely brilliant. The Federal Building in San Francisco, however, is unwelcoming. The San Jose City Hall is lively, fascinating and the plaza is a welcome city-wide attraction. The plaza in front of the Federal Building (when I visited it) was depressing, cold, windy and strewn with litter.

While I love both buildings for their intellectual rigor, the San Jose City Hall brings a quality and life that the Federal Building doesn't. I fault both buildings for the lack of a grand entry lobby that is clearly visible from the street - isn't that a prerequisite for a public building of any size in any location?

. . .

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Recommended Books

  • - Precedents in Architecture
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  • - A Pattern Language
  • - The Architecture of Happiness
  • - Architectural Composition
  • - Design Language
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  • - Chambers for a Memory Palace