Pacific Heights Historic Renovation

San Francisco, California
Location
  • San Francisco, California
  • This project page was created by community member Benjamin Farrell

    Working on distinguished properties in San Francisco can be challenging. It takes experience and skill to navigate California's historic preservation laws, which often put demands in place that contrast with the current owner's hopes and dreams. This house was designed by Houghton Sawyer as a commission by Adolf Spreckles in 1912. Sawyer was tasked with building the house for the notable family of five and the exacting standards of Alma Spreckles. Upon completion she promptly rejected the house, but retained it for her extended family and moved up the hill to the more famous house on Washington at Octavia now owned by Danielle Steele (coincidently the site of my first project as an intern in San Francisco).

    The Vallejo house was left untouched for nearly a century till we remodeled the whole house, including the addition of twin 3-story bay windows looking out over the San Francisco Bay , a Roof Deck, Guest Suite, Art Studio, Gymnasium and outdoor terraces. Extensive landscaping of the entire property created a unique outdoor space for family use.

    Prior to this project, the rear elevation was a tangled mess of odd sized windows and balconies that were never completed. We gave it symmetry and scale to compliment the orderliness of the rest of the house.

    Photo Courtesy of Benjamin Farrell

    Twin palm trees flank the stairs from a large gathering terrace to the tennis court sized lawn.

    Photo Courtesy of Benjamin Farrell

    With three kids in the house, a slide makes a way more fun trip from the playing court to the terrace. Adults can descend those boring stairs.

    Photo Courtesy of Benjamin Farrell

    We salvaged the skylight and made a cupola on the playing court for the kids.

    Photo Courtesy of Benjamin Farrell

    Insanely meticulous landscaping by Christopher Reynolds. This is the view from the newly created Art Studio.

    Photo Courtesy of Benjamin Farrell

    A Dining Terrace made a much better use of the Garage roof. It looks down over the Gathering Terrace.

    Photo Courtesy of Benjamin Farrell

    Peek-a-boo views of Angel Island out in San Francisco Bay.

    Photo Courtesy of Benjamin Farrell

    Broad sweeping views of the San Francisco Bay that you only get on the coveted North slope of Pacific Heights. It's amazing up here.

    Photo Courtesy of Benjamin Farrell

    Back in the day we would to refer to something like this as a "million dollar view". Good luck finding the same thing that cheap these days.

    Photo Courtesy of Benjamin Farrell
    Posted By
    Benjamin Farrell
    @farrellarchitecture
    Ben Farrell, owner and principal architect, is a graduate of Syracuse University but attributes most of his formative experiences to time spent in Florence, Italy and Copenhagen, Denmark. His curiosity with architecture came at a young age in Copenhagen by spray painting graffiti on the drab and boring ends of buildings that seemed otherwise forgotten. He legitimized this passion for unauthorized aesthetic improvement with an architectural education, some of which was spent studying the classics in the architecturally fecund areas of Tuscany. These contrasting experiences spawned an equally contentious philosophy that continues to juxtapose the respect of classical order with a modernity that says "nothing is sacred", improvement happens everywhere and sometimes the rules are just wrong. He resides in Southern Marin with a studio in Sausalito.
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