The Architecture and Design of Slow Food Nation | Civil Eats

The Architecture and Design of Slow Food Nation

Though the central focus of Slow Food Nation is food and the people and places that enable us to eat—farms and farmers, artisans and bakers, urban gardens and policymakers—this year’s event also boasts incredible architecture and design from some of the best firms in the Bay Area. Thanks to the talents and dedication of this esteemed group, visitors to Slow Food Nation will enjoy delicious food and hear stimulating conversations inside beautiful, sustainable structures designed specifically for this event.

As you wander between the sessions at Fort Mason and Civic Center, you’ll see 22 different stations and temporary buildings designed for SFN. In Civic Center, Craig Hartman of Skidmore, Owings & Merrill designed the Soap Box stage, which has already been erected near the Victory Garden, and will soon provide a platform for community members to voice their ideas in a public space. Nearby, the compost exhibit, designed by a team from IDEO, features an interactive learning station and bricks of compost for visitors to take home. Bright orange shipping containers have been salvaged and redesigned by Jensen Architects as the welcoming booths for both venues—you’ll be able to identify them from afar by the giant windmills that will stand atop the roof.

Over in Fort Mason, if the Taste Pavilions don’t attract you on scent alone, they will surely draw attention for their forms, materials, and the innovative use of design to address the events taking place in side. The bread pavilion, for example, by Stanley Saitowitz of Natoma Architects, had to accommodate two tandoori ovens, two pizza ovens, and a commercial deck oven, in addition to display areas and bakery counters. A series of tall scaffolding systems keeps the pavilion open to the outside and lets the breads take center stage.

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At the pickles and chutney pavilion, by Sagan Piechota Architecture, you will find a ceiling canopy made from over 3,000 suspended mason jar lids. The walls will be made from mason jars filled with a vast and colorful collection of pickle recipes and images. The cheese pavilion, by Macy Architecture, was fittingly designed using old milk crates to frame the space, with living roof and wall displays showing the grasses that make up a dairy cow’s diet.

The firms who participated in this feat of food-focused design were chosen by Slow Food Nation’s design advisory committee, which includes Hans Baldauf of BCV Architects; Allison Arieff, formerly of IDEO, now at Sunset Magazine; Michael Bernard of Virtual Practice; John Peterson of Public Architecture and Peterson Architecture; John Bela, of CMG Landscape Architecture (and manager of the SFN Victory Garden); Larry Bain of Let’s Be Frank; Michelle Meany of Wilson Meany Sullivan; Eleanor Bertino of Eleanor Bertino PR; and Margie O’Driscoll, Executive Director of the AIA San Francisco.

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Sarah Rich is an editor at Dwell magazine, where she specializes in sustainable design and architecture. She was the managing editor of the Slow Food Nation blog leading up to the inaugural 2008 event in San Francisco. She was also the managing editor and co-author of the book Worldchanging: A User's Guide for the 21st Century (Abrams, 2006). Sarah lives in the Mission district of San Francisco where fog is scarce and tacos are not. Read more >

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  1. Alex Lopez
    How exciting! I can't wait to see it ALL!!
  2. dennis roberts
    Please explain why an event which would take 3 weeks to properly appreciate is held for two days AND EVERYTHING IS SOLD OUT.
  3. i agree with dennis robert comment.
    doof-a-palooza was the same way last month.
    but, i realize it takes a lot of money + volunteers to put this on keep it going

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