by Hayley Wrubel

ENGAGING NEWCOMER GETS CONCRETE RESULTS: Dramatic cube adds needed tactile warmth to Inner Sunset block
by John King 

"Many people will look at 1266 Ninth Ave. in San Francisco’s Inner Sunset and hate what they see — a stark concrete form 100 feet wide and 23 feet tall, cut by four deep and resolutely right-angled bays. Here’s another way to view it: as an engaging newcomer with tactile warmth. And in an age where buildings are judged on the basis of whether or not they’re “contextual,” this one shows how subjective that word can be. The broad concrete cube holds a cafe. It extends out to the sidewalk from the four-story apartment building behind it, and neither the base nor the woodclad upper floors look like anything else on this commercial block that doubles as an entrance to Golden Gate Park. But in terms of what matters most about context to the ongoing life of a city —neighborhood scale and the social fabric — 1266 Ninth Avenue is an ideal fit. It’s a startling sight from any perspective, and not just because I remember when the site held a mortuary and parking lot. There aren’t many buildings in the Bay Area that announce themselves so emphatically, especially in well established neighborhoods with low height limits.

The reason this robust arrival doesn't feel like a gate-crasher is that the visual drama knows its place."

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