San Francisco Modern Architecture

A guide to interesting homes and commercial buildings

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S.F. Eichlers

I originally created this site in 2002 as a side project to document some of the modern buildings in San Francisco. I took all the photos and wrote all the text and slapped it together in a few weeks which explains the super basic look. I never really developed it to the extent I had planned and thus what you see is a snapshop from a decade ago. Some of the houses have been torn down and some have been radically altered. Someday I will resume working on the site, but for now step back into time!

San Francisco is known worldwide as a hotbed of Victorian era architecture. There are countless books, calendars and tours devoted to these buildings that were constructed over a relatively short time during the turn of the century. The taste of the day was eclectic since Victorian art and architecture reflected an era that loved a wide variety of cultures and styles, and combined them in every which way to suit personal expression. A love of the Far East, Egypt, the Italian Renaissance, Ancient Greece and Rome was prevalent, and writers, artists, crafts people and architects drew from these cultures and incorporated motifs into their own globalized vision of the world. Decoration and clutter were in vogue. Homes were filled with furniture, walls covered with paintings and every item was embellished with intricate detailing.

However, tastes change with the times. In the 1920s and 1930s a new movement was afoot that shunned any form of decoration in architecture and industrial design. Architects such as Walter Gropius (who founded the Bauhaus), Le Corbusier and Aldolf Loos were the men who rallied for the lack of ornamentation. Anything fake, anything not registering visually as an essential component in the structure was discarded. A love of the future, and not a love with the past, was the theme of the day. This was partly due to the industrial revolution and the fascination with machines. Everything became modern. Metal, not wood, was the popular material. Everything from cars to houses were made to represent the power of the machine and appear futuristic. Art Deco is the name given to the aesthetic that combined elements of the machine and decorative flourishes left over from the Victorian era. From the 1920s up to the present day, modern architecture has reflected two major styles: severe utilitarian and no-nonsense modernity and a more digestible, decorative modernity that appeals to the masses. Continue....