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.

1 minute read

June 23, 2011, 11:00 AM PDT

By Tim Halbur


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

Wednesday, June 22, 2011 in Metropolis Magazine

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