Regional Modern: San Francisco's Homes Are Built for the Views

Editor's Note: The Regional Modern series focuses on the regional differences in modern and contemporary architecture, countering the impression that "modern" means universal and placeless. In photo tours from Manhattan to Malibu, see how today's innovative homes are influenced by climate, environment, and culture, becoming both private oases and part of a larger landscape we all share.

San Francisco is easily one of the most beautiful cities in the world, due to the combination of a hilly landscape, water on three sides, and an impressive building stock. The "Painted Ladies," the old Victorian buildings that draw tourists to neighborhoods like Haight-Ashbury, are probably the best-known examples of the city's architecture. Unfortunately for architects pushing the envelope with contemporary buildings, this historical fabric and its supporters make the city a notoriously difficult place to get things done.

But get done they do, from projects like the Federal Building by Morphosis and Stanley Saitowitz's Yerba Buena Lofts to the following houses scattered throughout the Bay Area. In general, we see architects dealing with this historical context as well as other urban considerations -- noise, privacy, building codes -- and the ever-present desire to get the best view possible. The following photos show how they've succeeded.


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John Hill is a New York City-based architecture writer for Houzz.com.

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