Arkitektura Assembly:  Bringing together the world of Design

Anne Fougeron

As the 34 unit contemporary residential 400 Grove St. building takes its final shape on the corner of Grove and Gough, its architect Anne Fougeron, principle of Fougeron Architecture, sits calmly in her busy and light filled offices on the other side of town.

The project, which is part of a rejuvenation of the once forlorn Hayes Valley district of San Francisco, is not only a signal of the completion of that transition but also an example of how creativity and attention to detail offer a well needed antidote to some of the less considered residential tower developments that are reshaping the city.

Fougeron, whose name comes from France, was born in Amsterdam, raised in France and, later, here in the US. Fougeron Architecture was founded in 1985 and it has since grown into a design firm with 15 architects and over 60 design awards. The firm’s work ranges from substantial civic buildings to one-off residential homes. One of her most well known works is a home on the central coast of California in Big Sur. This magical project, the Fall House, is absolutely stunning, entirely unique in its execution and sinuous with its environment. Fougeron brings that same sensibility to projects as large as 400 Grove St., understanding an environment and adding to it, in spades.

Anne Fougeron took some time in her busy schedule to sit down with us and discuss the 400 Grove St. project, how her own history informs her work and the challenges and opportunities of the urban architect.

ARK_ASSEMBLY_FOUGERON_1
400 Grove by Fougeron Architects

What initially attracted you to this project and inspired you to do it?

We’ve worked on another project up the street which is a senior housing project and we’re really interested in the neighborhood and in the fact that all these sights have been coming available for housing due to the tearing down of the central highway. We try to work with people and areas where we feel we would be welcome, we knew of the developers DDG and DM Development and contacted them directly and the HVNA (Hayes Valley Neighborhood Association) were key in supporting modern design excellence.

We’re always interested in creating buildings that are contextual to a place but also presenting a new point of view about how they can be. So, we’re not historically tied to everything in the city but we can take the best that this city has to offer and transform it into the kind of living that people need. The project has been incredibly popular, selling out within a month.

ARK_ASSEMBLY_FOUGERON_3
View of the internal courtyard at 400 Grove by Fougeron Architects

Can you please share some of the more surprising outcomes that came about?

How difficult the process can be to build, I don’t know why that’s a surprise but it always is. It’s a very tight urban space and there are complexities to these types of spaces. What happens in these very complex times, when there are a lot of stakeholders opinions at play, is that you receive a lot of contradictory information and pulling that information together and trying to develop the best product under those conditions is a skill. It’s a skill that we develop as an architectural practice, the ability to navigate and hold contradictory conditions. One thing we were really pleased with is how well the actual design was received.

Architecture is a team effort, there’s a team of people involved in this type of work. You have to develop the team that cares.

ARK_ASSEMBLY_FOUGERON_4
Gough St view of 400 Grove by Fougeron Architects

How does living in Bay Area affect your design practice and your design thinking?

I went to college in the east coast and studied art history and had one professor that I loved and she taught photography, art history and architectural photography. I told her that I got into Columbia and I got into Berkeley and I’m not sure where to go, she said Oh, go to Berkeley, it’s more interesting, for you coming from France and growing up on the east coast Berkeley will be different. And she was right, it’s such an interesting place, at least now it’s really changed.

I think architecture has been conservative but is gaining something due to the change in where the money is located. It was once old money and now we have younger tech money which have very different frame of reference.

ARK_ASSEMBLY_FOUGERON_2
From the corner of Gough and Grove. 400 Grove by Fougeron Architects

At what point in any given project do you start thinking of furnishings? Is it more of a finishing touch or is it integral to the whole thinking process?

We always think of the interior and the exterior as being one. So the interior furnishings, finishes, colors and materials are an integral part of our vision for a building. We often select furnishings for our clients and we almost always do the interior casework.

ARK_ASSEMBLY_FOUGERON_5
400 Grove by Fougeron Architects

How does living in Bay Area affect your design practice and your design thinking?

I went to college in the East Coast and studied art history and had one professor that I loved and she taught photography, art history and architectural photography. I told her that I got into Columbia and I got into Berkeley and I’m not sure where to go and she said, “Oh, go to Berkeley, it’s more interesting, for you coming from France and growing up on the East Coast Berkeley will be different.” And she was right, it’s such an interesting place. Now, it’s really changed.

I think architecture has been conservative but is gaining something due to the change in where the money is located. It was once old money and now we have younger tech money which has a very different frame of reference.


If you were to give your younger self advice in regards to a career in design, what would it be?

I would say cultivate contacts and be true to your passion. You need contacts to get jobs and you need passion to do really good work. Both are needed to be a great architect.

ARK_ASSEMBLY_FOUGERON_INT_1

ARK_ASSEMBLY_FOUGERON_INT_2

ARK_ASSEMBLY_FOUGERON_INT_3

ARK_ASSEMBLY_FOUGERON_INT_4

More work by Fougeron Architecture can be found at:
www.fougeron.com