The single building that all architecture critics unanimously love is, as it turns out, a 1971 five-story commercial office building in San Francisco's SOMA district. You've probably never heard of 145 Natoma Street, and neither had some of the architecture critics, but they keep encountering it due to its proximity to the newly opened San Francisco Museum of Modern Art and being struck by its balcony-heavy red brick facade. Here's San Francisco Chronicle critic John King in an article on the neighborhood surrounding SFMOMA:
Tucked inside the block are four amiable structures of the sort that don’t find their way into design textbooks. Three date from before 1920. The other, 145 Natoma St., is a 1970 example of Third Bay Region — an architectural style that I didn’t know existed until researching this six-story building I had never noticed until checking out SFMOMA’s progress in 2014.
The idiosyncratic gem remains with its smooth skin of slightly oversize bricks and a stack of curved balconies that have a pop-art feel. The architect was Thomas Lile and his creation has gained cult status among such architecture critics as Alexandra Lange of Curbed and Christopher Hawthorne of the Los Angeles Times, both of whom tweeted out their puzzled admiration while here to look at you-know-what.
King, Lange, and Hawthorne aren't the building's only admirers. When King tweeted about the story, Michael Kimmelman of the New York Times and Alex Bozikovic of Globe & Mail jumped it to proclaim their approval as well:
In which I namedrop @HawthorneLAT + @LangeAlexandra while exploring SFMOMA's outskirts https://t.co/kKhfgb1i1k pic.twitter.com/p2dnpMs69W— John King (@JohnKingSFChron) June 2, 2016
@JohnKingSFChron @HawthorneLAT @LangeAlexandra I also was really struck by that 1970 building--agree the street is a plus of new museum.— Michael Kimmelman (@kimmelman) June 2, 2016
@kimmelman @JohnKingSFChron @HawthorneLAT @LangeAlexandra Me four! My urbanist friend @terplan couldn’t ID it. Locally obscure.— Alex Bozikovic (@alexbozikovic) June 2, 2016
@alexbozikovic @kimmelman @HawthorneLAT @LangeAlexandra @terplan @kelseykeith I dimly recall gd-floor cafe in '90s. Coulda bn critics' salon— John King (@JohnKingSFChron) June 2, 2016
So, here it is: the Radiohead of buildings.
• How SFMOMA reshapes our view of what’s around it [San Francisco Chronicle]