written by:
July 15, 2013
Rounding up a few remarkable renovation and preservation architecture projects in the Bay Area, courtesy of SPUR and San Francisco Architectural Heritage.
Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco historic preservation and adaptive reuse
The Exploratorium museum, housed within the original bulkhead at Pier 15, accommodates four spacious galleries. The glass-and-steel Bay Observatory—the only new structure on the site—unites the Embarcadero with the bay. Photo by: Bruce Damonte. Original architects: G.A. Wood, H.B. Fisher, A.W. Nordwell (1930s) Contemporary architect: EHDD (2013) Preservation architect: Page & Turnbull 2013
Courtesy of 
Bruce Damonte
1 / 7
One Kearny juxtaposition historical preservation and civic architecture renovation in San Francisco by Charles Bloszies
SPUR describes One Kearny: "Composed of three fused-together buildings representing distinct eras, [it's] is a masterwork of sympathetic urban architecture. Through its classical composition and sensitive materials, the 2009 addition, designed by [architect Charles Bloszies], takes cues from both the original French Renaissance Revival building designed by William Curlett in 1902 and the mid-century annex by Charles Moore, yet its texture is carefully distinguished from those older buildings." Photo by: Matthew Millman.
Courtesy of 
Matthew Millman
2 / 7
Glass architecture renovation of historic San Francisco building at 178 Townsend
Located in the South End Historic District, the recently completed 178 Townsend project added four stories and 94 rental housing units behind the edifice of the former Arc Light Company Station B building. A sleek glass structure was inserted into the original masonry building, juxtaposing materials and volumes. Photo by: Jeremy Blakeslee. Original architects: Frederick F. Hamilton and George W. Percy (1888) Contemporary architect: HKS and Martin Building Co. (2012)
Courtesy of 
Jeremy Blakeslee
3 / 7
Daniel Liebeskind Contemporary Jewish Museum in San Francisco architecture preservation
The former Jessie Street Substation, with its elegant neoclassical design, took on a radically new dimension in 2008 with the completion of Daniel Liebeskind’s Contemporary Jewish Museum, a lustrous blue cubic structure which transects the historic brick facade. These geometries and materials—stainless steel against traditional masonry—amplify the contrast between old and new. Photo by: Jeremy Blakeslee. Original architect: Willis Polk (1905–1909) Contemporary architect: Daniel Liebeskind (2008)
Courtesy of 
Jeremy Blakeslee
4 / 7
San Francisco's US Mint Plaza is an example of urban renewal in historic preservation
Once a derelict urban alley, Mint Plaza is nestled between the Old Mint and several historic warehouses. A simple ground plane unifies the plaza, while a steel arbor balances the towering warehouses to the north and the lower neoclassical facade of the Mint building to the south. The climbing vines on the arbor bring extensive greenery to the heart of the plaza and provide a canopy for al fresco diners. Photo by: Jeremy Blakeslee. Contemporary Architect: CMG Landscape Architecture (2008)
Courtesy of 
Jeremy Blakeslee
5 / 7
Renovated US Army building turned trampoline gymnasium in San Francisco, an urban preservation project featured in SPUR
The U.S. Army’s former airplane hangars on Crissy Field posed a complex rehabilitation challenge for the Presidio Trust. Fortunately, the House of Air, a trampoline gymnasium, offered a new use that capitalized on this hangar’s large, open interior, steel trusses and slightly gritty character. New components were skillfully placed within the cavernous structure, with the architect riffing on its aviation history to produce a bright, playful interior where people can literally take flight. Photo by: Ethan Kaplan. Original builder: U.S. Army (1921) Contemporary architect: Mark Horton Architects (2011)
Courtesy of 
Ethan Kaplan
6 / 7
Modern meets historic architecture in San Francisco preservation project by STUDIOS Architecture Jim Jennings and Page & Turnbull, featured in SPUR
Foundry Square II represents the extreme juxtaposition of old and new with a lone 100-year-old brick-and-heavy-timber stalwart providing visual relief from the steel and glass rising up around it. Completed in 2003, the project incorporates a 30,000-square-foot historic building, faithfully restoring its brick exterior while renovating the interior to serve modern technology and functionality. Photo by: Jeremy Blakeslee. Architects: STUDIOS Architecture and Jim Jennings Architecture (2003) Preservation architects: Page & Turnbull (2003)
Courtesy of 
Jeremy Blakeslee
7 / 7
Exploratorium Museum in San Francisco historic preservation and adaptive reuse
The Exploratorium museum, housed within the original bulkhead at Pier 15, accommodates four spacious galleries. The glass-and-steel Bay Observatory—the only new structure on the site—unites the Embarcadero with the bay. Photo by: Bruce Damonte. Original architects: G.A. Wood, H.B. Fisher, A.W. Nordwell (1930s) Contemporary architect: EHDD (2013) Preservation architect: Page & Turnbull 2013

SPUR, aka the San Francisco Planning and Urban Research Association, has been the driving force behind awareness-raising archictural and urban initiatives in SF since 1910. It's still a resonant organization for Dwell's home city (see: 10 Diagrams That Changed City Planning, Yerba Buena Street Life Plan), and this month, SPUR's publication The Urbanist, with the help of San Francisco Architectural Heritage, delves into a topic we can't get enough of: new life for old buildings

Here we've selected seven examples of civic architectural preservation done right, from what SPUR's deputy director Sarah Karlinsky notes as the "dramatic juxtaposition of old and new in the Daniel Liebeskind-designed Contemporary Jewish Museum to the rehabilitated Ferry Building, which instantly became a magnet for tourists and locals alike" when it reopened in 2002.

You can read the full report on preservation in the city of 800,000 here, or visit the free exhibition Adapt/Transform/Reuse at SPUR Urban Center Gallery at 654 Mission Street.

Join the Discussion

Loading comments...

Latest Articles

W House living room
Our best reader reactions this week.
April 29, 2016
Vineyard house illuminated at night
Rammed-earth construction fuses this Portuguese house to the environment.
April 29, 2016
vintage Scandinavian furniture Kathryn Tyler
In southwest England, interior designer Kathryn Tyler built her home around her ever-expanding furniture collection.
April 29, 2016
steel facade home Seattle
On the sandy shores of Fauntleroy Cove in Seattle, renowned firm Olson Kundig Architects crafts a subtle home with striking steel accents.
April 29, 2016
seperate piece renovated guesthouse eames storage unit cork floor tiles living room
An architect and an interior designer put the tools to the test for this impressive renovation.
April 29, 2016
Ceramics by WrenLab
Manhattan doesn’t get to have all the fun during NYCxDesign. Brooklyn is set for the return of BKLYN DESIGNS at the Brooklyn Expo Center in Greenpoint from May 6-8, 2016. Here are just a few exhibitors we are excited to see this year.
April 29, 2016
n0a6974 dxo
Architect Diego Revollo refreshes an apartment with a standout kitchen.
April 29, 2016
img 8652 1
The city of San Francisco has been eagerly awaiting the reopening of SFMOMA for years—and as the May 14th opening approaches closer everyday, the anticipation continues to build for art enthusiasts both near and far. This morning, we were given the opportunity to explore the newly expanded space before the crowds roll in. After a series of speeches, remarks, and tours, we left the grounds feeling thoroughly inspired and excited to share what we discovered.
April 28, 2016
Renovation of 1967 Hamburg apartment with Vipp kitchen.
In our April issue, we showcased an apartment in Hamburg, Germany, with a striking, matte-black kitchen from Vipp. The 77-year-old company became famous for its iconic pedal trash can before venturing into kitchens and other tools for the home. This isn't the first time that the Danish company's products have graced our pages, and here we've gathered additional examples from our archive that show how the brand's minimalist black kitchens are always a win in modern interiors.
April 28, 2016
Zafra residence living room.
A man and his wife make an emotional return to an apartment building he loved as a kid.
April 28, 2016
the garden inside concrete dining pavilion indoor outdoor custom cabinets thermador dishwasher refrigerator
A skylit conservatory doubles as a verdant dining parlor in Sonoma County, California.
April 28, 2016
Details of the Calico collection.
Calico Wallpaper founders Nick and Rachel Cope showed us through their home in our March Issue, now step inside their studio.
April 28, 2016
william krisel pow 1
Each week, we tap into Dwell's Instagram community to bring you the most captivating design and architecture shots of the week.
April 27, 2016
Dwell on Design and designjunction at ArtBeam
It's all part of Dwell on Design + designjunction's three-day event, featuring a program of talks chock-full of leading figures in design, architecture, urbanism, and beyond—coming up May 13-15 at ArtBeam in New York.
April 27, 2016
seattles mariners floating house prefab facade exterior fiber cement panels
A prefabricated floating home drops anchor in the Pacific Northwest.
April 27, 2016
royan treatment living room stone fireplace vintage new furnishings
French designer Florence Deau effortlessly mixes the old with the new.
April 27, 2016
modern netherlands 13 noordeinde schoolhouse parquet herringbone floors stove
Take a lesson from this school-turned-home.
April 27, 2016
The sidewalks of Copacabana in Rio De Janero, Brazil, designed by Roberto Burle Marx
The Jewish Museum in New York City takes it outside with a celebration of the Brazilian landscape architect Roberto Burle Marx.
April 26, 2016
Waterfront home in Belvedere, California
A 1960s home infested with powderpost beetles had to be sacrificed before this this Zen-inspired house could happen.
April 26, 2016
dialogue house
At the base of Echo Mountain in Phoenix, a geometric home by Wendell Burnette opens up to the surrounding desert landscape.
April 26, 2016
street smarts kitchen full view
A creative couple transforms an old Toronto storefront in Dundas West into a home and studio.
April 26, 2016
hald strand
This architect thinks of everything for his summer escape, pizza oven included.
April 26, 2016
gans turin residence living room
Thanks to a contemporary interior that she’s been updating for a decade, modern architect Abigail Turin has learned to love her traditional 1925 San Francisco home.
April 25, 2016
131
Johannesburg-based design studio Counterspace was founded in 2014 by young architecture graduates Sumayya Vally, Sarah de Villiers, and Amina Kaskar. Their projects are collaborative, research-led investigations into possible futures and ideas of otherness in Johannesburg.
April 25, 2016
through living room
A second-story addition and a new indoor-outdoor focus revive a nondescript house in L.A.
April 25, 2016
Modern living room with Flexform sofa and Jens Fager candelabra
An Antwerp home blurs the boundaries between art and design.
April 25, 2016
hillside haven  1
This backyard is its own modern retreat in the Berkeley Hills.
April 25, 2016
Two studios flanks a central volume at this home in Mexico
Art and life meet in the middle at a family retreat in Central Mexico.
April 24, 2016
natural instinct swedish family home kitchen table unfold pendants muuto lilla aland chairs stolab
With Alvar Aalto in mind, a renowned Swedish architect crafts a serene home on a long-held family plot.
April 24, 2016
clearing the table coffee tables boxinbox philippe starck glas italia storage
A half-century later, furniture designers are catching up to painter Yves Klein’s visionary Table Bleue.
April 23, 2016