Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Visiting Crissy Field Center with AIA

On Friday, I joined with other members of the architectural community through AIA SF for a tour at the new Crissy Field Center (CFC) at its new location, a stone’s throw from the beach at the beginning of Crissy Field. The CFC teaches San Franciscans about the intersection between the urban and the natural environment. This temporary location is anything but temporary. It hosts a wide range of healthy aspects for humans and our habitat. I was happier inside the building than out. The glazing and roof lines all emphasize its orientation towards the Golden Gate Bridge, which in some wild combination of science, nature, and man is also the most desirable orientation for sunlight and passive heating during winter.

The building has already achieved LEED Gold, but it is expected to reach LEED Platinum. I can verify that the luminescence of the work spaces does not require any additional lighting, just as it was planned to do. While on the tour we got a unique look at the rainwater cistern, which has not yet been fully buried and got to talk to the installer. He made some valuable points about the scarcity of water and amazed us all with the fascinating statistic that 1 inch of rain water on the CFC roofs equals to 10,000 gallons of water. The roof space is a feature of every building which needs to be further utilized – it has so many beneficial qualities, a possible gathering space for people, greenery, water, and sun-power.

This project was designed and fabricated by the wonder child of pre-fab modern design, Project FROG. You can read more about them at their website here.

Well readers, you might be asking yourselves - How does this pricey building (I make this conjecture on the fact that the Architect wasn’t allowed to reveal the budget to us) relate to the Free Design Clinic? How is it a model for the freeing of design and information? Let me tell you.

There is an opposite side to our efforts, whereas we try to give people free information and design, it is also important to let people experience good, healthy design at no cost. This is the void that the Crissy Field Center fills. Just by being in this space, a person’s expectations change for what is appropriate and normal and achievable. This is a huge benefit of civic architecture – it belongs to the people.

When I first sat down to write this blog posting I spent most of the time ranting about my terrible memories of the sweltering portable I had to spend third grade encased by. It’s my hope that this building technology of prefab, cost-effective healthy structures can benefit other students and not just in their after-school programs.

Photo is from Green Building: Project FROG

Illustration: Transparency House, Inc.


  1. Wow, sounds amazing! Wish I could have come too

  2. When are interesting prefab building projects going to become as cheap as on-site built?