Now Playing

Bigger Buildings? Smaller Buildings? San Franciscans Have No Clue What Buildings They Want

All we know is this: size matters. 

san francisco city skyline


Love it or hate it, San Francisco architecture has always been all over the place in terms of design. And when polled, it turns out San Franciscans are all over the place too.

A recent survey conducted by Boston-based design firm Sasaki Associates revealed that while 25 percent of San Francisco residents want new buildings to be small in scale, another 20 percent want them to be bigger. That sharp divergence goes a long way towards explaining our polazired political climate.

“The State of the City Experience” polled residents in six cities across the country: Boston, Chicago, New York, Washington D.C., Austin, and San Francisco (take that LA!). While our city aligned with national reactions to things like enjoyment of parks and desires for more bike and pedestrian friendly streets, we appear to be severely divided on the state of new buildings.

Despite some of our tall gems (Transamerica Pyramid, Coit Tower, the Bank of America building), only 1 in 10 of those polled said they stop on the street to admire tall buildings. In contrast to such a low number, we were the top city surveyed to respond with affection for buildings that “feature public art or very unique design elements.” Make up your mind San Francisco!

The most dispiriting survey result? San Francisco fell below the national average (64 percent) in satisfaction with “the people” around us. What happened to peace and love? Apparently it all went south, to Austin to be exact, which has a 76 percent satisfaction-with-other-humans rate (ours was only 60 percent).



Have feedback? Email us at
Email Andrea Powell at
Follow us on Twitter @sanfranmag
Follow Andrea Powell on Twitter @AndreaPowellSF