"The exterior appearance was very important," she says. "That gorgeous structural element was stunning. It really caught people's eyes."
It still does—even if people don't know the Summit is an Eichler. "The building speaks for itself," Bob Long says. "You don't have to know it's so-and-so's building to want to live here."
The membership of the Summit recently voted down plans to fill in the open-air plaza that separates seven floors of parking from the residential floors. The plaza is almost at the same level as neighboring street, Russian Hill Place, and provides a view. The recent plan called for an exercise room as well as meeting space. Bob Long was one of the 'no' votes. "One of the pieces they were going to put in the exercise room was a stair climber," he says. "The people can't go outside?"
The vote, which required a majority to pass and was weighted according to size of unit, was approximately 44 percent aye, 27 percent nay, 28 percent abstain.
The plan, for a "a stylish, glass enclosure on the plaza level," with 5,500 square feet of space, evolved from a desire by residents for recreation and meeting space, the association president Don Reid says. "I thought it might have been nice to go down there for exercise, and I like the idea of having an additional room for entertaining and concerts," Buggato says. But other residents opposed the project, in part because of the cost.
Nelson-Rees, a retired scientist and former art dealer, also opposed the plan because it would have changed the buildings' appearance, and filled in an open view area used by neighbors in low-rise houses on Russian Hill Place and Vallejo Street. He even contacted Tibor Fecskes, the building's architect, and learned that Eichler had deliberately left the plaza open to appease neighbors, who strongly opposed construction of a high-rise tower in their neighborhood.
Officials told Eichler the city would approve the building only if neighbors approved, Fecskes said in a recent interview. "Without the plaza," he said, "we wouldn't have gotten approval."
Photos by David Toerge, Morley Baer (© 2006 by the Morley Baer Photography Trust, Santa Fe, New Mexico. All reproduction rights reserved), courtesy Tibor Fecskes.