The Allan Temko memorial was held yesterday in the Forum at Yerba Buena Center for the Arts. For an architecture critic to be honored this way is unusual to say the least, but Temko was a rare man. The audience was seated facing the array of glass doors that give a view of the East Garden (designed by Omi Lang). This view became a quiet commentary on the proceedings. There was a life-goes-on episode in which a young boy tried to play hide-and-seek with his father. Not finding enough places to hide, he took another tack. He covered his eyes with both hands, then unveiled them with a flourish as if jumping into view. The architectural moment came when I noticed how many people wandered into the garden and then left without taking a seat or showing much interest. It’s that kind of public space.
I was surprised, given Temko’s reputation as a talker, that no recording of his voice was played. But maybe that would have been too much for his family and friends. People told funny stories, and it was comforting to hear him described as a slow writer. One speaker recalled a famous Temko witticism, his description of San Francisco's Villaincourt Fountain as an object “deposited by a concrete dog with square intestines.” (See photo below by Eric/SF.)