Backstory to Repurposing San Francisco Churches


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My first impulse to put together a visual essay on repurposing came after I read an account of the history of San Francisco’s Ferry Building. The saga of that structure’s transformation from one of the city’s glories, its demotion to a neglected, underutilized has-been, and finally its rebirth as a completely repurposed and successful shopping center — the tale struck me as a process worth exploring in other places all over the world. However, so many buildings have been repurposed (think of the Orsay Railway Station, or the Hagia Sophia) that I decided to limit my inquiries to six religious buildings in San Francisco, with a brief side glances at some other religious buildings in Europe and America.

I can find no unifying theme, even in the few buildings I examined. Human ingenuity seems able to adapt any structure to any purpose — an ability to be commended, and strongly preferred to the simple destruction of a once-cherished place of worship.

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