Tourism for Locals: The Westfield Dome Offers Cultural Viewing in IMAX

Juan De Anda/ SF Weekly
Thunder Dome: SF Ballet edition.

'Tis the season for crowded stores, pushy shoppers, and bell ringers. As much as we love the holidays, they can be overwhelming and drive us away from the festive centers of the city, like Union Square.

But don't scoff and roll your eyes if you are surrounded by this Christmas chaos. if you happen to find yourself waiting in long lines at the Westfield in downtown, then we suggest going to the fourth level of the seven-story mall and enjoy some free ballet under the dome.

The dome at the Westfield's San Francisco Centre is an iconic glass and steel vaulted ceiling, first unveiled in 1896, and sits at the center of the building that was once home to the former Emporium department store.

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Tourism for Locals: Frank Lloyd Wright Building Tucked Away in Union Square

Juan De Anda/ SF Weekly
Frank Lloyd Wright's only San Francisco building.
Next time you happen to find yourself in the Union Square area, don't be turned off by the flashy window displays sporting the latest designer trends or the incessant hustle and bustle from the ongoing construction and perpetual wandering of tourists.

Instead, head toward Maiden Lane, a tiny alley on the east side of Union Square, along Stockton and between Post and Geary. For those who don't do so well with street names and directions and need visual markers, the lane's entrance is graced by the Gucci and Dior storefronts. Located in this pedestrian shopping mall is a historic building that garners admiration from both architecture and history aficionados. Alongside the high end-boutiques, there is a building with a square facade composed of camel-colored bricks -- it's famed American architect Frank Lloyd Wright's only building in San Francisco.

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Tourism for Locals: Saint Mary's Cathedral Puts Spin on Church Architecture

Juan De Anda/ SF Weekly
Our Lady of Maytag Cathedral.
San Francisco is the home for every type of individual -- from the quirky to the stoic, and the sexually deviant to the taciturn prude, all extremes and differing grades of personalities find places to congregate. Sometimes it seems the City's architecture reflects where distinct groups gather -- from the families in Noe Valley's single unti homes to the young tech employees in sleek skyscrapers.

However, the focus of this week's "Tourism for Locals" deviates from this stereotype and proves that exteriors don't classify those that inhabit them and vice versa. A building that features scenic views of the classic San Francisco skyline, but whose architecture contradicts the classic image of opulent and somber images associated with the Roman Catholic Church: The Cathedral of St. Mary of the Assumption.

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Tourism for Locals: Mondrian House Rivals Painted Ladies in Visual Creativity

Juan De Anda/ SF Weekly
Move over Painted Ladies! There's a new damsel in town.
The Painted Ladies at Alamo Square might be a hot tourist attraction, but there's another house on the San Francisco market that is a better bargain with gorgeous beachfront views and nestled in a quiet neighborhood.

Along Ocean Beach's Great Highway, between Quintara and Rivera streets, there is a little house that -- instead of blending in with all the other box-shaped houses decorated with opaque shades of taupe, olive green, and periwinkle blue -- is a burst of color in a neighborhood surrounded by dull grey fog.

The Piet Mondrian-inspired house's exterior is painted in the signature style of the Dutch artist: solid horizontal and vertical black lines against a white canvas creating asymmetrical square regions accented with three regions filled with the primary colors of red, yellow, and blue.

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Tourism for Locals: Forget Lombard Street, Try These Steps Instead

Juan De Anda/ SF Weekly
The Artsy Step Climber

It is an absolute truth that we, people who live in San Francisco, detest tourists attractions with a passion. We avoid Fisherman's Wharf and Golden Gate Bridge unless we are obligated to go because of pestering friends and relatives who want to see the "real" San Francisco.

We groan at the thought of seeing and participating in an activity that is so plastic and commercial and always mutter in hushed whispers, "that's not my San Francisco" or something along those lines.

So in an effort to curtail those dreaded visits to Pier 39, Alcatraz, and everything else we don't already hate, SF Weekly will present weekly posts for the next couple months of local attractions that are easy on our patience and wallets with the added benefit of displaying the City by the Bay in a more colorful and diverse manner.

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Masterplan: A Work of Watery Destruction by Local Designer Chad Wright

Photos by Lynn Kloythanomsup of Architectural Black

Chad Wright, an independent designer based in San Francisco, uses art to explore the industrial and nostalgic flavors of his childhood in Orange County. On the shores of China Beach he displayed this through a grid of sand-made tract houses -- emulating structures he says originated in post-World War II Levittown, Pennsylvania and sprawled across the suburbs of the U.S. to where he was raised.

Lynn Kloythanomsup of Architectural Black

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Knowlita Releases Limited Edition "Streets of San Francisco" Prints

Categories: Art, Design

By Katie Tandy

Fledgling print design studio, Knowlita, has expanded its stark and stylish posters from New York to the streets of San Francisco.


Helmed by New Yorker Quincy Moore, Knowlita takes its tongue-in-cheek name from Nolita -- a downtown neighborhood in Manhattan. Moore is running everything, "from design and production to sales and fulfillment," beginning with street-name posters, but poised to whip up t-shirts and eventually a menswear clothing line.

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Get an Inside Look at the Armory's Porn Studio Sets

The word "porn" can make you think a lot of things, most of which you might not be interested in discussing with your boss/professor/mom/grandma. California and New Hampshire are the only two states that legally allow adult films to be produced, and currently an estimated 90 percent of U.S. porn films are made in the suburban San Fernando Valley of Los Angeles, the nation's porn capital. But believe it or not, many films are made right here in SF, at the historic San Francisco Armory.

Recently, California Home + Design posted a slideshow of an inside look into some of the intimate settings where the magic happens inside the Armory, currently owned and operated by (DISCLAIMER: NSFW), who specialize in films of the hardcore to extremely hardcore variety. We thought this was pretty entertaining, so here's a couple of our personal favorite studio scenes. Just use your imagination...

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armory, porn, sf, tour

Read Local: When It Comes to Cooking, Judge a Book by Its Cover

supernatural everyday.jpg

New York City might be home to the big houses, but this scrappy city just happens to be the epicenter of publishing on the Best Coast. Join Alexis Coe every Wednesday for Read Local, a new series which exclusively focuses on books produced in the Bay Area.

We're told "don't judge a book by its cover" before we can even read, but that aphorism has no place in the world of cookbooks. Sure, we care if the the interior is well-written and organized, full of perfected recipes and helpful hints, the kind of great work a cook can revisit time and again. Perhaps we even entertain loftier goals, imagining that the meals the cookbook inspires will eventually hold a sentimental value, reminding the owner of intimate family gatherings.

See also: 

New York vs. San Francisco: Who Tops the Bestseller Lists 

Carnivorous Seahorses and the Truth about Honey Badgers

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Hive-Minded: Modern Designs for the Urban Bee

Categories: Design, Technology
Philip de los Reyes

Philip de los Reyes didn't have to read about the Bay Area's obsession with urban beekeeping in the New York Times: it was impossible not to notice that nearly every backyard, roof deck, and patio he visited had a newly acquired hive. The freelance industrial designer, who has also worked with furniture, goods, and even technology, took no issue with the act of beekeeping itself, but rather with the design. 

See also:

Bee Sustainable

The Museum of Craft and Design's New Curator Has California Cred

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