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    Urbanism From Within Exhibition Opening at SPUR, San Francisco

    Jeff Maeshiro
    Feb 13, '15 3:09 AM EST

    CCA's Urban Works Agency and OpenScope Studio have partnered with the San Francisco Planning Department and SPUR to launch the exhibition Urbanism From Within, opening with what should be a lively party on Friday, February 20th at 6:30 pm (Eventbrite info here). It's free and open to the public, featuring research work generated by architecture students at CCA that looks into the potential of secondary units (more commonly known as in-law units) as a strategy for adding tens of thousands of units to the city's housing stock without disturbing it's pristine, NIMBY-approved facade. By examining and breaking down the most typical housing/building types in San Francisco and illustrating their historical, current, and possible future uses, the exhibition hopes to re-frame public views of the potential of new architectures within old envelopes. The exhibition will feature intricate and beautiful drawings, maps, and models of the research work done by the students in a seminar last fall taught by Neeraj Bhatia, of the Open Workshop, with Christopher Roach, of Studio Vara, as primary critic.

    As a research assistant with the Urban Works Agency I have had the pleasure of working on the graphic design of the exhibition, and we have been working months to get this show up and running, so please come by and check it out, and thanks! Below is a little bit about the show from the UWA:

    In recent years, San Francisco has become emblematic of the difficulties of managing rapid urban growth in a culture entrenched in NIMBYism. The influx of jobs, primarily in the tech sector, and associated wealth from these industries, has caused rents and housing prices to soar to the highest in the country, widespread gentrification, and socioeconomic homogenization as the lower and middle class continue to flee the city. One of the challenges in providing new density to the city is that the image of the city, which is associated with its civic identity and tourism industry, is closely linked to a romantic vision of Victorian housing. One of the inadvertent outcomes of the housing crisis is the widespread creation of secondary (in-law) units — smaller units embedded within or located upon one’s property. Currently, the city estimates that over 50,000 illegal secondary units exist within the interior; hidden in garages, attics, or the rear of homes. Because of their illegal status, these units are not regulated to comply with building, health, or fire codes. Recently, in March 2014, The Planning Commission of San Francisco gave unanimous support to legislation that would allow property owners in the Castro District to legally build secondary units. Viewed as a pilot program, the legalization of secondary units is a large part of the puzzle to address the current housing shortage in the city in a diffused manner. Operating in an anonymous and subversive manner, the secondary unit has the potential to create a new paradigm for density and affordability in cities. 



     
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