This project explores an emerging domestic typology: a 'gallery house'. It combines a semi-public art gallery
and a residence for two prominent collectors who have redefined what it means to live with and look after
art. The clients, a virologist and a mathematician, exclusively collect work by female contemporary artists and
feel compelled to share and promote their collection, not only with friends but also with the larger art world.
They requested a home within which both their extensive collection and visitors could circulate from a semipublic
gallery through to the domestic space, each zone offering a different environment for experiencing the
work. The street-level gallery hosts exhibitions curated from their private collection as well as the collections
of friends. A site for artist and curator talks, the gallery increases public engagement in the arts within the
art world as well as at the scale of their own neighborhood. Extending and redefining the exhibition space as
it continues up the stairs to the next two floors and the penthouse sculpture garden, the domestic zone
includes even the most private spaces in the exhibition circuit by virtue of its open plan.
The site is an infill lot bordering South Park, one of the few figural public spaces in San Francisco. This
distinctive urban condition informed the search for an abstract architectural language that explores the
interlocking clarity of figure-ground relationships and the liminality of their edge conditions. The design
process began by seeing the base condition of the lot as solid poche, already full. The solid mass of the
buildable envelope was then incised and subdivided into interlocking elements. The space of the lot was
comprehensively partitioned and the interlocking figures identified as solid or void, and assigned various
programs. In this manner, the original fullness of the space was articulated and accounted-for, resulting in a
perceptible heaviness in the built project.
The solids and voids slide past each other, indifferent to the abstract 4 x 5 x 4 Cartesian framework that
informs the structural system. Within the house, the matrix reinforces the divisions of space implicit in the
allocation of solids and voids. But at the facade that meets South Park, the orthogonal framework dissolves
and reassembles to emulate the organic morphology of the tree-filled park. The tessellations flex to create a
volumetric inhabitable space for balconies on the upper two floors. This swollen threshold resulted from an
exhaustive taxonomy of parametric interpretations of the Planning Code constraints for allowable projections
that trigger the typical San Francisco bay window. The soft geometries of the facade screen reappear in the
'mathematical-organic' pavers and succulents at the rooftop sculpture garden.
Sustainability / daylighting
The envelope of the house responds to the temperate but varied climate and weather of San Francisco with a
nuanced ability to shelter and protect from the cold fog, then open for full connection to sun and breeze.
Radiant floors warm the interior while large operable walls connect the large rooms to the park and trees on
the southeast and the city as view to the northwest. In contrast to the horizontal expansion offered by the
operable walls on both residential floors front and back, a green roof with drought-resistant plants is pierced
with skylights to bring surprising and intense daylight to the deeper interior rooms. Over the 55' high vertical
space of the stairs, a sawtooth roof washes the space and art with even north light. In the gallery, the south
storefront diffusing glass is coupled with a northern skylight over the back display wall, providing daylight for
the art throughout the cycles of the day and the year. The house and gallery track the climatic and sky
cycles, from east to west and blue sky to fog, locating the occupants in a building that engages in the city
with little reliance on bought fuels and off-site energy.
70 South Park: The Owners and the Collection
The project owners are prominent art collectors with a focus on work by female contemporary artists. Both
are active in the art world, having served on museum and art school advisory boards, and lending works from
their collection to major institutions. The wife is a professor of molecular virology at UCSF and author of over
100 published scholarly papers. The husband is a software developer with a background in mathematics. He
was inspired to develop the bibliographic software program EndNote after typing many ofof his wife’s papers
and finding the typing of a bibliography at the end of each one to be a tiresome and tedious process that
could and should be automated.
After living in a Victorian house in Pacific Heights for ten years, they made the unconventional choice to
move to the more active South of Market area, to enact their goal of having a loft-like gallery and residence
in the city. Blocks away from the SFMOMA, this urban location felt more in keeping with their contemporary
collection and way of life. They had found the Victorian home far from optimal in showing contemporary art,
and had a strong desire to live in a more contemporary structure with high ceilings and simple lines.
The 70 South Park building consists of a residence on the top two floors, and a gallery on the first floor. The
gallery hosts exhibitions curated from their private collection as well as the collections of friends. It is also a
site for artist and curator talks, with the future potential to increase public engagement in the arts within the
art world, and also at the scale of their own neighborhood.
The collection consists only of works by women artists from all over the world. This focus began about ten
years ago as a curatorial statement reflecting the feminist culture in the Pereira/Niles family (they were raising
two daughters at the time). Early on, the couple were especially interested in works about “body”, and
collected paintings and sculptures by both male and female artists such as Kiki Smith, Louise Bourgeois, Sue
Williams and Marc Quinn. With the preponderance of the artists creating “body” work being women, it
occurred to them that they could make a powerful feminist statement if they limited their collection to works
by women. Over time, the female artist focus took on a life of its own, leaving the “body” focus behind.
Today the collection includes all types of work, such as minimalist and abstract, and the focus on women
artists is perpetuated by the fact that women artists are still underappreciated.
The collection includes work by the following artists:
Sophie von Hellerman
Charline von Heyl
Niki S. Lee
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