"San Francisco prides itself on being the most liberal city on the
planet," says Ross Levy, founder of Levy Art and Architecture. "But
until recently we've had a relatively homogeneous building stock. Other
cities -- like Barcelona, London, Madrid, which are more secure in their
history, have embraced modern architecture. But it is getting easier and
more acceptable. It's also more in demand. People are realizing that
these are fantastic places to live. Even here, when people buy Victorian
homes, we gut them -- because no one wants to live in those rooms."

"It's still a struggle," says Sparks. "But it probably will always be a
struggle to some extent. Because in doing contemporary architecture,
you're trying to do something new, you're exploring new materials and
exploring space, you're trying to respond to people's contemporary

Other architects suggest that things are finally changing as the
populace realizes modernism doesn't mean cheapo boxes on the hill. "You
have to make a good case for change with the planning department," says
Kennerly. "But they understand that with good use of materials, good
design actually contributes to the neighborhood."