San Francisco Modern Architecture

A guide to interesting homes and commercial buildings

Gallery 1

Gallery 2

Gallery 3

Gallery 4

Gallery 5

Since most of the flatlands of San Francisco were already developed, housing construction in the 1930s onward spread to the hilly regions of the City and to neighboring towns such as Daly City, South San Francisco, Pacifica etc. Three hilly regions, Diamond Heights, Twin Peaks, and Forest Hill, contain the largest percentage of post-Victorian homes. The Sunset area also contains mostly post-Victorian homes, but they are not worth mentioning here. And it is in these hilly regions that the majority of modern homes were built. This is a boon for the homeowners who have the luxury of views and privacy, but for the modern architecture enthusiast it poses a logistical problem since finding these buildings is difficult. Since moving to San Francisco in 1991, I have done a lot of exploring on foot and have cataloged in my mind all the cool modern buildings. This site is my attempt to share my efforts and present a visual guide to a side of San Francisco most people do not know exists. Yes, good modern architecture is rare in San Francisco compared to Los Angeles, but the homes and commercial buildings that do exist are treats.

I originally set out to research any published material (print or Internet) on local modern architecture and came up with only two books: "Bay Area Houses" and "'San Francisco Modern: Interiors, Architecture & Design." The first book only features a few noteworthy homes and the second focuses only on interiors from homes built in the past decade. I figured I should fill the gap. I selected about 20 homes to feature on this site. I wrote a letter introducing myself and my intentions to the owners and requested only the name of the architect, the year the house was built and any interesting information they might want to share. I put it in a bright orange envelope and dropped it in their mail slots. I heard from only a few people. This explains why for most of these buildings I have no information. Undaunted by this lack of cooperation, I decided to go ahead and build this site. I decided I would also feature commercial buildings - though I will develop this area later on. My decision on what buildings I wanted to highlight was purely subjective - a gut reaction. This was the initial process. I then went back and photographed the buildings and then as I built the site I analyzed what it was about these structures that I responded to.

Some of the buildings have been featured in publications and some no one has given a second thought to. Many are considered ugly by the uneducated and then some are considered ugly by architects who probably are the ones who have the nerve to design faux Colonial or Spanish homes, mini malls and cookie cutter corporate headquarters which in my book is a criminal affront to the senses. But I am not out to offend or make any enemies. I am merely trying to present the hidden modern architecture of San Francisco. I hope you enjoy my efforts and maybe develop an appreciation of a little seen side of this city. I also welcome feedback - both positive and negative. And if you know of an interesting buildings I may have missed - feel free to drop me a line.

S.F. Eichlers