He can see the writing on the wall

If you attended the 2002 IDSA conference, you may have seen architect Bruce Tomb talk about his experience with his others in his community graffiti-ing or removing graffiti from his building, and how he essentially turned it into an ongoing art project. I wrote about it here (six boxes down, in blue) and today the SF Chron has an in-depth piece about Tomb and his building.

The posters are bright, papered over each other and peeling. A public gallery of outrage and passion on a former police station that once housed drug dealers, gang members and drunks in its holding cells, the dozens of radical statements plastered on this wall at 23rd and Valencia streets make up what may be the most outspoken site in the country.

Unbeknownst to most passers-by who stop to stare, behind the poster wall lives a quiet man who furiously defends its aesthetic. With his hair slicked neatly back and black Dickies pants that match the sturdy frames of his glasses, Bruce Tomb does not look like a fighter. But for the past seven years, he has fiercely protected the 25-foot square front wall of his home, the former Mission Police Station.

Tomb, an architect, views the 1950s-style industrial building, in which he lives with his family and operates his business, as a beautiful piece of modern architecture and a valuable part of city history. Some of his neighbors disagree, seeing the boxy structure vacated by police in 1994 for a larger precinct house at 17th, six blocks down Valencia Street, as an eyesore.


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