Corporate Conservation Sorta

Thankfully there are many groups out there that work to preserve the old buildings we have. There are also a lot of groups, like the Walnut Creek City Council who see no reason to keep anything around that is older than a decade. Thus, due to that, Walnut Creek looks like a big steaming heap of turd with little turdlings that live there driving their annoying SUV’s. In San Francisco, Oakland, and Berkeley, things are a bit different and groups haved managed to get a city government body in there that respects old buildings to a degree.
Where they don’t save buildings, it seems that the companies that come in to fill them up downtown give a damn about keeping these older structures around. I think a good deal of it has to do with the fact that they’re trying to have some form of European charm to their places of business and you just can’t do that with some brand-new mulch/poop colored, two-story structure. Good examples of this (even if I don’t like the businesses in them) are the Armani Exchange location and Gap Kid buildings in the Union Square area of San Francisco. These buildings are great. They invite you in and they have a great sense of class at the same time. It’s much different than the Apple Store that Apple built which has the vibe of a dentist’s office that wants to sell you an extended warranty on your iPod.
Now, in a big switch from all of this is the H&M strategy wherein they preserved the outside “look” of the spot they’re building their new store on Powell & O’Farrell but they demolished the entire innards of the building. I’m guessing they probably would have smashed it all down if the city let them and I suppose that it’s good at least part of the old building (which I really liked) still lives on, but man, it just seems like such a waste to knock over something that was so great.
So, I guess this type of conservation doesn’t always work, but it’s good that it’s happening in some places, because if it didn’t San Francisco and other places would lose all the charm that really makes them their own. I mean, it was bad enough what they did to Union Square a few years back…