We’ve finally made it coast to coast, from the Atlantic to the Pacific, from Philly to San Francisco.

This city has something to offer for everyone. Extreme sports fanatics, designers, techies, foodies…you name it. Our time here was spent with a friend from school, in beautiful sunny (and a little windy) weather.

Let’s talk about these sidewalks though…

Most of our trips so far have been hiking and camping, and we were excited to walk around the city to take a break. Nope. Because of the hills, the city has basically permanently grown on various steep slopes, so our calves were at it again.

Some cases it’s so steep, that it’s just straight up steps.

The famous Lombard Street is a windy switch back street to avoid one super steep slope, infilled with gardens, and mega-touristy.

But of course, these climbs lead to beautiful and unexpected views of the city and the surrounding bay. And for these glimpses, the city hiking was worth it.

Now for some nerdy architecture talk…

I was pretty excited to check out some of the most inspiring projects we’ve studied in school while out on the west coast. While some were impressive, others were less encouraging.

SFMOMA, Mario Botta with Snohetta Expansion

This museum is definitely worth visiting. For nerdy architects and regular art lovers alike, it was fun to watch people amused by the spaces provided within the original, symmetrical on-axis building and the triangulated forms in the new.

It was fun to see so many people impressed by the continuous views into the stairs.

And lastly, the detail in the facades was beautiful, old and new. The original Mario Botta facade has some beautiful brick work which isn’t noticeable from a picture in a text book.

And the new Snohetta facade is a great example of new digital practices in construction in their concrete panels.

De Young and the Science Academy

Renzo Piano’s Academy of the Sciences is a science museum in the Golden Gate Park right in downtown SF. The picture you always see is a rooftop image, with punctured skylights on a curved surface. In fact, the image makes you think that contextually, this building exists mostly underground and this roof structure blends in with a field. Not the case.

Admission was also pretty pricy ($39), and they had stopped letting people in when we got there. I’ll just say this: science should not be that expensive.

Herzog & de Meuron’s De Young Museum is an art museum across the way with an observation tower free to the public.

The skin is an embossed, perforated copper skin which was created by abstracting an image of a tree canopy.

I’ve heard that they did this so the building blended in with the trees, and while I do admire the result, I don’t know that the building blends in with anything.

Day 2: Across the Bay

With the interest of seeing the Golden Gate Bridge and the John Muir Woods, we headed north.

Might I add that the areas to see this Bridge were insanely packed, and we wound up spending more time getting there than actually admiring the view.

John Muir Woods

Technically a national park, these woods are a conserved area of redwood trees close to the city.

It was hard to capture the shear size of these trees, standing immensely high above you.

And finally, a beautiful view back to the city (taken while eating some amazing food):

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