Emily Peckenham

Manifest Destiny! Tiny Cabin Finds a Home Between San Francisco's Downtown Skyscrapers

by , 04/18/12


San Francisco, Manifest Destiny, Jenny Chapman, Mark Reigelman, Public Art, Cabin, Urban Design

©Cesar Rubio

On display until October, 2012, Manifest Destiny! is the product of a collaboration between two designers; San Francisco-based Jenny Chapman and New York-based Mark Reigelman. Their first project together, the idea to build the tiny cabin in a space between downtown San Francisco’s tall buildings came together in only a few short weeks. After meeting at a conference in April 2010, Mark and Jenny applied for a grant to create a new work of public art in the Bay Area. Focused on the “spaces between buildings”, the newly minted partners pulled together a grant application in only ten days.

The team contacted over fifty building owners in downtown San Francisco seeking a site for their proposed project. Originally, they had hoped to install three different cabins, but eager to begin construction, decided to focus on the Hotel des Arts site.

One of the biggest challenges the designers faced was proper permitting regarding property lines – because the Manifest Destiny!cabin juts out past the property line of the hotel it is attached to, technicalities related to boundaries posed a problem.

The Manifest Destiny! cabin is built from naturally aged wood, which was sourced from an Ohio barn built in 1890 by E&K Vintage Lumber in Los Angeles. The barn wood was used as-is and reclaimed to create the cabin’s authentic look. Inside the barn wood cladding, a modern aluminum frame provides the structural support neccessary to suspend the cabin to the side of the hotel several stories up.

Although the cabin looks like a simple construction, attaching it to the side of a building presented architectural and engineering challenges such as compensating for the weight and adding electricity.

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