The Role of Background Buildings

San Francisco architecture critic John King talks about his new book Cityscapes and the role that so-called "background buildings" play in creating the city's mosaic.

Martin C. Pedersen at Metropolis Magazine talks with King about how people will use his book (which is somewhere between a commentary and a guide) and King's focus on buildings that aren't the obvious choices:

"I wanted to look at the good buildings we tend to ignore, and explore what they add to our subliminal sense of our surroundings. Take a building like 77 New Montgomery St. It's your basic early 20th Century brick commercial structure, nothing unusual at all, until you look closely in a certain light and realize that it seems to shimmer, because the line of white bricks around the windows are arranged in a zipper pattern called dentilation. The city is a mosaic with infinite variations on a theme, and the inevitable differences from one building to the next are what bring the composition alive."


77 New Montgomery St., photo courtesy of John King

Full Story: Q&A: John King

Comments

building block set

NEW! Build the world you want to see

Irresistible block set for adults when placed on a coffee table or desk, and great fun for kids.
$25

Prepare for the AICP* Exam

Join the thousands of students who have utilized the Planetizen AICP* Exam Preparation Class to prepare for the American Planning Association's AICP* exam.
Starting at $245
Wood necklace with city map

City Necklaces

These sweet pendants are engraved on a cedar charm with a mini map of selected cities. The perfect gift for friends and family or yourself!
$28.00

City Coasters

Hand-drawn engraved maps of your favorite neighborhoods are divided up across 4 coasters making each one unique.
$36.00