San Francisco/The Mission

David Baker house, the Mission, San Francisco — © Brian Rose

My wife Renee and son Brendan stand in front of David Baker’s house on Shotwell Street in the Mission. On the street side, the house retains much of its original facade, but Baker’s intervention is clearly visible on the ground floor. An office entrance is to the left, the house above is accessible through the center door, and our rear apartment is reached through the wood slatted gate to the right, originally a carriage passage way. Solar panels can just be seen on the roof.

According to Baker in Dwell magazine:

“There were about 20 people living in this warren of windowless rooms,” recalls Baker, “along with assorted pit bulls, cats, and chickens. Whenever someone wanted to expand, they just nailed on some Sheetrock and a new roof.”

David Baker house, rear yard — © Brian Rose

David Baker house, rear yard — © Brian Rose

The back courtyard is covered in a thick carpet of loose pebbles. There is a workshop behind sliding wood and plastic doors, a spiral staircase provides access to the main living space, and very tall bamboos shield one side of the yard. Hovering over it all is the word “why” apparently taken from an old sign. Reminds me of “Hell Yes” on the New Museum in New York. But I much prefer “why.”