A new San Francisco apartment building recently opened with a considerably more muted facade than it was initially intended to have, six years after a city official decided its original window-filled design screamed “class and privilege” and forced the architects to change it.
The building at 1900 Mission Street in the heart of San Francisco was initially intended to have seven floors of apartments with floor-to-ceiling glass windows.
However, when the building was proposed in 2017, the San Francisco Planning Commission led by then-commissioner Myrna Melgar rejected the project with protests that its appearance would be a force for gentrification in the neighborhood.
But Melgar, who called the project’s windows “a statement of class privilege” during a committee meeting at the time, lived full time in a nearly $2 million mansion with huge picture windows in an upscale San Francisco.
Some San Franciscans have expressed anger at the hypocrisy of Melgar’s statements about the initial design of the buildings compared to the house he lived in, while others have said that buildings should not be designed by committees so that they don’t look boring.
The initial plan for the building at 1900 Mission Street in the heart of San Francisco
The new look of the building at 1900 Mission Street after planners forced it to change
The building at 1900 Mission Street was first proposed around 2013, with developers proposing to demolish an auto body shop and replace it with ground-floor retail and apartments above the street.
In 2017, community activists rejected the project fearing it would clash with the neighborhood’s established community and protested against the destruction of the auto body shop that was still in operation at the time.
The matter was referred to the San Francisco Planning Commission, then headed by Melgar.
“This imposing 75-foot-tall building would house just 12 large, luxurious units in the heart of a working-class neighborhood,” an appeal for the project read. “I would demolish a neighborhood retail business, one more auto shop in a long line of those recently torn down for luxury housing.”
Instead of focusing on how the project would get the body shop out of the community, Melgar focused on what the building looked like, according to MissionLocal.org.
“I have to say that I hate the design, nothing against the architect,” said Melgar, “big windows, for me, are a statement of class and privilege.”
After reiterating his statement, Melgar continued saying “You know, the poor don’t do that, they don’t have everything on the street.”
“It really irritates me in the wrong way,” he added. “So I just have to say it’s a design issue.”
When the building was proposed in 2017, the San Francisco Planning Commission led by then-commissioner Myrna Melgar rejected the project.
Myrna Melgar’s nearly $2 million mansion in a ritzy San Francisco neighborhood
The large panoramic windows of Myrna Melgar’s house in San Francisco
Inside Myrna Melgar’s house in San Francisco. it has big windows
Other committee members agreed with Melgar.
“The first thing that came to mind is Starship Enterprise,” Commissioner Kathryn Moore said at the hearing. “It really speaks to the new demographics of housing, due to its unusual highly glassy appearance. It does not fit easily into the context in which it is found.’
Commissioner Dennis Richards said: “He’s a bit aggressive.”
“I think we have to do something with the design and I agree. It looks almost like a stage,” she said.
Ultimately, the architects were forced to redesign the building and provide a much more understated façade that was intended to better fit into the neighborhood landscape.
The building is nearing completion, but some have raised eyebrows at the decidedly less interesting appearance that remained.
“This is what design review does in San Francisco,” wrote one Twitter user alongside a picture of the newly opened building. ‘If you don’t like new buildings to look like this, maybe we should reform the government committee that does design by committee.’
Melgar is now on the board of supervisors and still appears to be living in his three-bedroom, 1,815-square-foot home worth about $1.8 million, according to Zillow.
She could not be reached for comment when contacted by DailyMail.com.