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Architectural Renderings Depict Only the 'Wired and Young'

John King shares his thoughts on modern renderings. In too many drawings a hipster cult of youth is normalized, and it threatens to paint regular folks and true nonconformists out of the picture.
March 24, 2015, 7am PDT | Philip Rojc | @PhilipRojc
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Eric Fischer

Heightened diversity is one of the hallmarks of any urban center. But according to John King, "[the] city imagined by designers and developers is a monoculture of the wired and young."

From a set of architectural renderings, mostly native to San Francisco, King picks out the roots of gentrification. "The difference now is the narrowness of the vision conveyed. For all the debate over gentrification and saving the 'soul' of San Francisco (whatever that means), the future will arrive with a backpack slung over its shoulder."

These renderings might indicate a deeper cultural disruption. Not only do they fail to include homeless people and other "problem" signs: they also write out office workers, tourists, and most of those who will actually use the spaces depicted. For King, this celebration of carefree digital age faddishness—and the death of seriousness—is new. "Not only are the figures in the renderings from past decades obviously not real — wonderful figures brought to life by a seemingly casual line or two — they convey a sense that societal norms were here to stay. The establishment will continue to set the tone, thank you, whatever that era’s fashions or hairstyles might be."

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Published on Friday, February 27, 2015 in San Francisco Chronicle
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