Design: Outlawing the Modern Skyscraper

San Francisco adopts restrictive new urban-development rules

San Francisco is a self-consciously civilized place, pleased by its reasonable scale and unreasonable hills, proud of the slightly loopy beaux arts buildings and the great swaths of pastel houses, altogether seduced by its own fey charms. It follows that San Francisco has a powerful sense of how San Francisco ought to look, and the new ungainly downtown skyline offends that civic vision.

Townspeople elsewhere merely carp about glass boxes and pine for the architectural past. San Franciscans have taken action. Earlier this month the board of supervisors passed an elaborate set of rules governing development in the 470-acre urban heart....

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