Intrigued by the article in the Chronicle, I headed over to get a look for myself at 185 Post St., a building sheathed in a wrapper of glass.
The work of the firm Brand + Allen, designer Koonshing Wong notes in the article that “I’d go to museums and see these valuable artifacts protected in acrylic cases. This is a reinterpretation of that.”
The effect is very easy to miss. From the ground floor, passing by in a rush, you only see the very dull and uninspiring facade of De Beers’ storefront.
Better appreciated as the article’s author John King notes by taking it in from several angles, especially from across the street. In the drizzly evening rain with the streetlights reflecting off the surface, it appeared not at all as a block of featureless panes, no matter the angle. Did it steal the appearance of its neighbors? Well, yes, but no more so than the other glass fronted buildings on the street. The effect of it capturing a whole building in its reflection was easier to see from the photographs than the naked eye that day. Clearly a building that will reward repeat visits at different times of day and different seasons.
Postscript: Since I was downtown anyway, about a week after I wrote this (although I hadn’t posted it yet), I decided to return to BART via Post St. so I could take another look at the building. I had been skeptical about how dramatic the effect of reflection was as described by King. After all, the Union Square neighborhood has no shortage of glass and all of the storefronts on Post more or less reflect back the architecture of their opposites. There are of course also the skyscrapers, buildings like Crocker Galleria with solid sheets of glass for siding, and Neiman Marcus, the jutting corner of which mimics 185 Post, almost as if it was the translucent exposure of the orange where a section of the peel had been removed. Did the facade of 185 really offer a viewer something unique? It was the early afternoon, but the day was equally drizzly. This time I headed south along the cross street. Slowly, as if watching the pan of a camera on a movie screen, the entire building on the opposite corner slid into view. It was as dramatic a confirmation of King’s assessment as you could hope for.