Concept Drawings and Details

Fifth in a series reimagining a new Beat Museum in the old Buon Gusto building

This new Beat Museum concept by Architect Eugene Tssui is designed for structural stability, and maximizes the space provided by the site. Four stairwells, one at each corner of the building, act as anchoring elements of the design, while a series of tree-like structural, four-story high wooden trusses connect the four stairwell structures together to brace and unify the building. 

The building features an earthquake and natural disaster resistant design that allows for flexibility rather than rigidity, so it will flex and dissipate stress and strain under seismic duress. Finishing walls will be made of non-combustible materials that are waterproof as well as mold and mildew resistant which can mimic any texture and color.

There are many fine points to the actual design. All drawings and descriptions by Eugene Tssui. Read more about the details here:

Jerry Cimino, Eugene Tssui, and Scott Donahue
Jerry Cimino, Eugene Tssui, and Scott Donahue in front of 535 Green Street

Structural Wood with a “Forest of Trees” Quality

The building will be largely made of structural wood to minimize the embedded energy used in the making and manufacturing of the structural components. Wood is a living organism and requires no energy expenditures in its formation, unlike fabricated construction materials such as steel and concrete. This creates a very small ecological footprint. Metal fasteners and braces would be used to tie the wood components together and these comprise a small percentage of the main structural elements.

Four stairwells, at each corner of the building, act as the anchoring elements of the design and a series of tree-like structural, four-story high wooden trusses, connects the four stairwell structures together to brace and unify the building. These large trusses resemble a forest of trees with their limbs interlocking and their trunks and branches soaring beyond surfaces of glass and light.

Earthquake and Natural Disaster Resistant Design

West Elevation view, showing stuctural wood

The building is structurally designed to rest on its four corners in a very stable geometry. This four-sided box structure is dictated by maximizing the space provided by the site. All of the weight of the building is taken to the exterior. The interior is a series of floors that are suspended from this outer frame. In an earthquake, causing both lateral and vertical shaking/jumping, the internal suspended floor structure acts as a dampening shock-absorber, because the floors have flexibility that allow movement, and there is nothing to break apart because the inner floors are not directly connected to the walls and ceiling. Shock forces are dampened by this inner suspended core, which helps to nullify the shaking and bouncing that causes structural fatigue and possible loss of life so characteristic of earthquakes.

In between the vertical stair cores the four sides of the building contain floor-to-ceiling windows that can move inside the large diagonal wood members. The wood members create a triangulated bracing, from corner stair well to corner stairwell, giving the walls structural flexibility with lots of natural light from all four directions. Overall, the building has flexibility rather than rigidity, allowing it to flex and dissipate stress and strain during extreme structural duress.

Heating, Ventilation, and Air-Conditioning That Can Be Turned Off for True Zero Interior Functioning

The greatest destructive factor of architecture is its embedded energy in manufacturing and fabrication and the day-to-day pollution created by its operational heating, ventilation, and cooling systems. These factors combined account for 45% of the world’s toxic pollution.

The building is situated in a temperate climate where the winters are not extremely cold and the summers not extremely hot. There is no humidity and few insects. This is the ideal climate for the functioning of a building that requires no mechanical/electrical heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems. Windows and doors can open and shut for natural breeze and ventilation control. The walls and ceilings can be fitted with high insulation materials so that human body heat is enough to maintain a comfortable indoor environment. There is no need for the highly polluting HVAC (Heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning) systems that are so destructively omnipresent in buildings everywhere.

With a disengaged HVAC system this could be the first instance of a public building having a true zero energy environmental system in the world.

Ventilation is so simple; opening and closing windows in every direction and on every level. No need for mechanical/electrical machinery. Common-place insulation values are presently R=21 in most buildings and this building would be R=60 and above, nearly three-times higher than normal. This level of insulation precludes the need for mechanical heating and cooling.

Building Cross-Section

Use of a Double Wall Structural System for Sound

The entire building is really two buildings in one; the outer building is the structural building, the inner, lightweight building, is the sound absorption building envelop. The distance between the two is 5 to 6 inches. This design creates an air-pocket between the structures which creates excellent sound attenuation. It is really two building shells—the outer building is structural and inner is a separate non-structural envelop shell. Thus, when concerts, poetry readings, and lectures are taking place in the building, the neighbors cannot hear anything and, from our interior perspective, any sounds from the neighbors cannot be heard inside our building. The two-story Clausen Engineers building, at 1727 64th Street, Emeryville, CA, 94608, is an excellent acoustic example of this design method.

Finishing Walls that are Non-Combustible, Waterproof, Cannot Mold and Mildew, and Can Mimic any Texture and Color

A product called Gigacrete is applied to any metal lath surface by hand-troweling and when the material dries it is indestructible, even bulletproof. It is less expensive than stucco, color can be added into the material, and lasts forever. Our building uses this material to create a climate adaptive outer surface that is not disturbed by water, fire, mold and mildew, vermin, and natural disaster forces.

Waterfalls Above the Street

The north facade of the building, along Green Street and facing north, features a dramatic 70 foot wide by 30 foot high cascading waterfall that falls to a 12 foot high narrow catch pond. The waterfall is framed and composed as a background relief for a large, bas-relief, sculpture representing the major figures of the Beat Generation.

The Jack Kerouac figure is the main central feature of the bas-relief mural which sets-off the three-dimensional mural of the building. A phrase by Jack Kerouac, written in 1957, sets the tone and countenance for the spirit of the museum. The architectural composition expresses the life-giving quality of the Beat poets and writers and the timeless message of tolerance, compassion, and authenticity, at the crown of the frontal facade, is more internationally relevant today than it ever was.

The falling water symbolizes the constant onslaught of challenge, regeneration, and rebirth so indicative of life. The falling water is passively cleaned (no electrical/mechanical systems) by the Lifestraw system of filtering any contaminated water through their passive tank design.

Aerotecture: Extraordinary Urban Windmill Design

The wind current in the building’s San Francisco North Beach district, is between 7 mph to 12 mph throughout the year. A windmill system called, Aerotecture, is an elongated windmill blade spinning inside of an open triangulated frame, 7 feet wide and 12 feet long, and can be stacked.

The blade rotation is silent, slow-moving, and doesn’t rust. It cannot injure birds. Depending upon the final calculations for electrical needs, the roof of the building would house a number of these silent windmill structures which are hidden from view from the street.

South Elevation

Special Art Window Glass Used to Create an Emotional Experience of Wonder and Amazement

The museum is sheathed in specially composed, hand-made art glass creating a colorful and moving sense of light and shadow throughout the entire museum including the eight residential apartment units. This compliments the extraordinary visual and sensual experience of the building.

Ground Level Car Parking

The 5000 square foot parking areas accommodates 12 cars plus a special needs parking van. A 130 square foot area accommodates bicycle parking and there are eight, 32 square foot storage closets for each of the eight apartments above. Two, 24 square foot elevators, take car parking persons to the front and rear areas of the building from this three-foot deep sub-sidewalk level. A 36 foot car ramp allows cars to descend into the parking area. A 36 foot long, 14 foot wide temporary metal ramp, allows select cars to enter the museum exhibition area at the ground level automobile display stage, from the parking area.

Sub-Level Basement with Classrooms and Offices

The 3000 square foot basement level of the café/gift shop/museum, has a stairway to the parking area for safe exiting and for entering the museum without walking through the cafe portion of the building. This entrance might be used for the museum administration, staff, and guest performers. Four elevator/stair cores take everyone to specific areas of the housing and museum areas of the building. This sub-level accommodates classrooms, offices, storage, and bathrooms. Two additional stair and elevator cores lead to all floors of the building.