Here is a view east toward City Hospital from just south of Picker Street in Bohemian Hill, taken by me in 2002. Here we see visual density and variety giving way to the relatively monotonous architectural mass of the City Hospital. The distinct individual buildings mitigate the impact of the hospital complex, which otherwise might be overbearing. The relationship also makes full use of that human-scaled unit with which we build towers and flounder houses alike: the brick.
While each building is the sum of its parts — here those parts are largely brick — each urban vista also is the sum of a multitude of elements. Limiting the complexity by reducing the number of and small disparities between each element diminishes the view as well as the pedestrian experience.
Five years later, this view does not exist — but we have the chance to remake it. However, we should keep in mind that the view seen here was over 100 years in the making, and just as the brick or the building becomes an element that composes a larger view, so is each year during which the view emerges. While it is easy for a person to manipulate space and material, it is impossible to manipulate time.