Hidden Spaces: Re-envisioning Density (1 LU)

San Francisco is undergoing a new period of rapid growth. While most community members are aligned on the need for more housing, there is considerable disagreement on the how and the where. Our goal in this panel session is to both understand the cultural and political paradigms that have informed our conception of home and how those paradigms manifest physically in San Francisco and then transcend these paradigms by exploring new design solutions to housing and density.

Panelists will each give a 5-minute presentation on topics followed by a discussion moderated by Allison Arieff / SPUR:

  • Karen Curtiss will present a short history of shelter and how cultural “stories” of home change.
  • Jim Zack will discuss the 25’ life looking at lot sizes in San Francisco.
  • Stanley Saitowitz will explore housing typologies present, possible and next.
  • Owen Kennerly will present on radical mixed use: density over time.


Learning Objectives

  1. Identify the bureaucratic, economic and cultural sources that create a housing deficit.
  2. Identify top-down ways that can help the development of more affordable and market rate housing units and incentives for land owners of single family lots.
  3. Identify granular / architectural ways that can add units to a single lot or several lots to increase desirability and density for land owners and future home owners to do so.
  4. Use a Q&A to discussion and brainstorm additional ways to help add desirability to a denser urban way of living.


About the Moderator

Allison Arieff

Editorial Director, SPUR

Allison Arieff is Editorial Director of the Bay Area-based urban planning and policy think tank, SPUR. In 2018, she was the recipient of the AIGA Steven Heller Award for Cultural Commentary. She has been a contributing opinion writer for the New York Times since 2006. From 2006-2008, she was Senior Content Lead for the global design and innovation firm, IDEO, where her focus was on the built environment. Allison was lucky enough to start Dwell. She was Editor-in-Chief (and founding senior editor) of the modern design and architecture magazine, which won the National Magazine Award for General Excellence in 2005 under her tenure.
She began her editorial career in book publishing with stints at Random House, Oxford University Press, and Chronicle Books. She is also the author of several books including Prefab and Trailer Travel: A Visual History of Mobile America and has contributed to numerous others including Cars: Accelerating the Modern World (V&A, 2019) and The Future of Public Space (SOM, 2018). She is speaks frequently on architecture, design, and cities; she is also on the faculty of MRED, the master’s of real estate development and design program at U.C. Berkeley. She lives in San Francisco.


About the Panelists

Karen Curtiss, AIA
Principal, Red Dot Studio

Born and raised on the East Coast of the United States, Karen Curtiss studied in Scotland, and then lived in Hungary, before settling in San Francisco. Her cultural explorations, intellectual pursuits and participation in competitive fencing eventually led her to architecture and inform her unconventional approach to the practice. Since founding Red Dot Studio in 2005, Karen has championed a design thinking and engagement based on a belief in the profoundness of the prosaic in elevating the human experience and creating spaces imbued with the feeling of good design. Karen holds an MA in Philosophy from the University of St Andrews in Scotland, an MA in Interior Architecture and a California Architect’s License.

Owen Kennerly, AIA
Principal, Kennerly Architecture & Planning

Growing up in New York City, Owen gained an acute awareness of the spaces that humans occupy: The startling capacity of small volumes, the overlapping demands of urban living, and the delights of grand spaces fine-tuned by their inhabitants. The son of an architect who tried to convince him to do otherwise, Owen finally found his way to architecture through construction and furniture design. With a Masters in Architecture from UC, Berkeley, Owen then worked for San Francisco architect Daniel Solomon. As co-principal of Kennerly Architecture & Planning with Sarina Bowen Kennerly since 2004, those early lessons found bearing in projects ranging from delicate rural structures to nationally recognized urban infill and mixed-use buildings.

Stanley Saitowitz
Principal, Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects Inc.

Stanley Saitowitz was born in Johannesburg, South Africa and received his Bachelor of Architecture at the University of Witwatersrand in 1974 and his Masters in Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley in 1977. He is Emeritus Professor of Architecture at the University of California, Berkeley and has taught at numerous schools, including the Elliot Noyes Professor, Harvard University GSD , the Bruce Goff Professor, University of Norman, Oklahoma, UCLA, Rice, SCIARC, Cornell, Syracuse, and University of Texas at Austin. He has lectured extensively in the United States and abroad. His first house was built in 1975, and together with Stanley Saitowitz/Natoma Architects Inc., has completed numerous buildings and projects. He has designed houses, housing, master plans, offices, museums, libraries, wineries, synagogues, churches, commercial and residential interiors, memorials, urban landscapes and promenades. These projects have received national and international recognition. Amongst many awards, the Transvaal House was declared a National Monument by the Monuments Council in South Africa in 1997, the New England Holocaust Memorial received the Henry Bacon Medal in 1998, and in 2006 he was a finalist for the Smithsonian Cooper Hewitt National Design Award given by Laura Bush at the White House. Three books have been published on the work, and articles have appeared in many magazines and newspapers.

James Zack, AIA
Principal, Zack | de Vito Architecture + Construction

Jim has a genuine, irrepressible interest in how buildings are made and detailed. Zack | de Vito Architecture + Construction was established as an architecture practice, and in 1995 started incorporating design/build/development. Jim’s experience covers a diverse range—with an emphasis on modern residences and restaurants, and experience in commercial, hospitality, multi-family and affordable housing. In his youth Jim was a journeyman carpenter and contractor with his father in Carmel, California. He has custom furniture pieces in the SFMOMA permanent collection, received a Bachelors and Masters degree in architecture from UC Berkeley, and is a California licensed architect and contractor.


Pricing + Registration

  • AIA Member: $10
  • General Admission: $15
  • AIASF Student Member: $5

First-time registrants: everyone is welcome to attend AIASF programs. AIASF members must log in to their member account on the AIASF website prior to registering in order to receive the member discount. Complete your event registration by clicking the “Register” button at the top of this page.

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