Ok, so it has been years since I have attended an architecture exhibition. After starting Presenting Architecture and realizing that I needed to be up on the state of everything to do with presenting architecture, attending architecture exhibits went on my to do list. My timing was good with the San Francisco AIA chapter’s Architecture And The City Festival coming up. The first two exhibits I visited within a week of each other were, Architecture of Consequence at the San Francisco AIA gallery, and Reclaim Market Street at the SPUR gallery. Credit should go to the San Francisco AIA and it’s Architecture and the City Festival, well thought out, publicized and full of great content, exhibits and events. Both exhibits were list only entrance for those with the foresight to reserve their spot. What is also worth a mention is that both venues are fairly new and state of the art gallery spaces, refreshing to see such top rate gallery space for architectural related exhibits with full capacity openings.
Interestingly enough each exhibit focused on urban planning solutions, Architecture of Consequence on futuristic conceptual ideas and Reclaim Market Street on ideas for Market street in San Francisco before an upcoming repaving project. The persona of each hosting organization was apparent with the more bookishness of SPUR showing visibly with books accompanying the video screens and a DIY post-it note contribute your ideas space. Architecture of Consequence naturally showcased more architectural design based urban solutions meaning urban design sometimes took a back seat.
Architectural exhibits have always been an experiment in designing presentation boards. A change of pace for an in-house marketing department to show their own design sense away from the day to day client or generic marketing layouts that need to be straightforward. I have to be honest here, that while many an image of mine has been used on presentation boards, knowing my own weakness and boring preferences in this area, I have always left this realm to the more specific professional graphic design types.
Architecture of Consequence based it’s presentation boards on a Mondrian painting geometry (B.131 Composition with Red, Yellow, Black, Blue and Grey), which although interesting in concept and working toward the goal of an integrated exhibit started the firms with a design restraint which is never a good idea and was also disregarded for the most part. This exhibit consisted of boards from the original exhibition Architecture of Consequence – Dutch Designs on the Future with four Bay area architecture firms adding to the exhibit for a local twist. Text on all boards was unreadable at the size printed with tons of text, a bit of editing and readability would have gone far here. Using the term boards is a bit misleading as each presentation was a vinyl type print adhered directly onto the walls of the gallery resulting in a textured effect that took away from every presentation. Images were fuzzy on many boards resulting from the wall showing through and most likely low resolution images being enlarged to much.
Reclaim Market Street was designed in a straight forward way with cardboard laser cut stencils for labeling with extremely plain but effective text accompanying a photo tinted to resemble yellow trace. While I am one to always advocate for more images, I felt that the message of the exhibit came forward beautifully and clearly with text overriding imagery. Contrast that to the AIA exhibits fuzzy printed displays and type faces that at largest were unreadable,
Both exhibits are conceptually extremely different with The Architecture of Consequence being highly conceptual and Reclaiming Market street being a community based intervention project. Given this one would think that Architecture of Consequence would have a major edge on the wow factor but with the content of each board being visually impaired and the Reclaiming Market Street exhibit so clear in design and content that it was clearly a better presentation. Visuals aside, both exhibits are totally worth visiting and well worth your time!