Bland vs. Ugly

Posted On: May 6, 2013
By: ffdadmin

Quartz is my latest obsession for news.

They’ve got an article today that highlights the ugly buildings coming out of the building boom in China. Which reminded me of all the complaints I’ve heard over the past few months that architecture in San Francisco is incredibly bland.

2299 Market St. – Icon SF (we aren’t the listing agents, it is a Gregg/Gorski – Paragon RE listing) is one example that comes to mind, with plenty of individuals panning a pretty bland building in the heart of one of San Francisco’s most treasured neighborhoods. Last week, there was a look at whether or not Mission Bay is ugly?

So here’s the question, which is preferable: Bland and Boring (San Francisco) or Over the Top (China)?

Take, for example the proposed rendering of 2299 Market St. If I’ve heard one recurring theme about the building, it is bland or uninspired. Which isn’t to knock the building – it is what it is, and if the aesthetic is modest, well then, that’s just the way it is:


If we take a look at some of the construction in China, by contract, we get buildings like:


Under construction in China. Credit: HugChina/Weibo via Quartz.

So the question is: Which is worse – bland architecture that might not look like much of anything, or bold architecture that might look like something, um, else?

San Francisco is a progressive town in many ways, but it has never been (in my experience) particularly progressive when it comes to architecture. I don’t know if it is the cost of development, our lengthy approval process, or some other factor (feel free to chime in down below), but buildings in San Francisco, even though they might be filled with some of the most interesting people in the world, are rarely that interesting to look at.

The one recent exception, IMHO, would be The Millennium Tower. What are your thoughts?