Posts tagged with "Millennium Tower":

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Report: San Francisco needs stricter seismic codes to avoid calamity

A report issued by the Applied Technology Council, a group of independent engineers organized at the behest of the city of San Francisco, has concluded that building codes in the city are woefully inadequate with regard to seismic safety. According to the report, while structural codes in the city are written in order to ensure that buildings will not collapse in an earthquake, they pay little attention to whether the impacted structures will continue to be suitable for occupancy following a disaster. Specifically, the panel has called for inspecting and retrofitting existing tall buildings while also suggesting that stronger structural regulations are needed for new towers, The New York Times reports. In addition, the panel has recommended that structures be designed with a greater degree of rigidity and that infrastructural elements like plumbing, elevators, and electrical and information technology systems be built to a higher quality. The expert panel was organized during the tenure of late San Francisco mayor Ed Lee in response to the slow-moving catastrophe occurring at the Millennium Tower site in the city's central business district. There, the Handel Architects–designed tower has been listing to one side. Overall, the tower 58-story tower has sunk over 18 inches with no sign of stopping. The uneven distribution of the tower's settling has created potential fire hazards as the cladding on one side has begun to pull apart. The city even threatened to "yellow tag" the structure after a window on the 36th floor cracked over Labor Day weekend. The report's urgency has been underscored by recent structural failures at the Salesforce Transit Center, where a pair of structural steel beams supporting the terminal's rooftop park have cracked. The transit center has remained closed for the two weeks since and no projected opening date has been announced. Authorities are currently inspecting the structure and beginning to repair the fractured beams. The officials behind the new report have created a database of tall buildings that lists which structural systems were used for every tower. The list is part of an effort to spread awareness of the structurally-deficient welded steel moment-frame structural technique deployed in high-rises between 1960 and 1994. Structures built using this system are thought to be at risk of failure during the strongest possible earthquakes. The database lists 39 towers, including William Pereira's TransAmerica Pyramid and John Portman's Embarcadero Center, among others. The full report, titled Tall Buildings Safety Strategy, can be found here.
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San Francisco threatens to block access to Millennium Tower over sinking problems

The saga of San Francisco’s slipping Millennium Tower continues, as a window on the 36th floor of the Handel Architects–designed residential tower cracked over Labor Day weekend. Engineers were dispatched by building management to examine the crack from the exterior but in a streak of continuing bad luck, the drone lost its GPS connection, careened into the neighboring Salesforce Tower, and crashed to the ground. If building managers are unable to determine why the glass cracked by the end of this week, San Francisco's Department of Building Inspection has threatened to "yellow tag" the tower, restricting access until the area is proven safe. The 58-story, 645-foot-tall tower has already tilted 18 inches west towards Mission Street since its completion in 2009, which has unleashed a string of problems for residents and the building’s owners. Condo owners have written off their units as having zero value, cracks have appeared in the basement, tenants have reported awful smells in their units, and the building’s movement may have created a fire safety hazard by causing a void to form between the building’s structure and curtain wall. The problem is that the 60-to-90-foot-long friction piles underpinning the building were driven into sandy soils rather than bedrock at 200 feet down. While no concrete explanation has been given for continued sinkage, developer Millennium Partners has blamed construction of the neighboring Salesforce Tower for pumping out too much groundwater and causing the soil to settle. While the engineering firm Allana Buick & Bers collects more information on whether the crack was an isolated incident or a symptom of the tower’s 18-inch tilt, a new, cheaper alternative has been proposed to halt up the building’s continued slippage. It’s expected that the tower will sink another inch per year if nothing is done, but engineer Ron Hamburger, hired by Millennium Partners, recently proposed an expedited fix. As NBC Bay Area reports, the $400-to-500 million cost to drill 150 new piles through the building’s foundation has caused a massive legal fight between the tower’s homeowners’ association and developers. Hamburger’s solution to install 52 piles–26 on either side of the corner of the block at Mission Street and Fremont–would stop the building from tilting further and would only cost $80 million. However, as NBC notes, the tower’s seismic performance may have already been compromised by its movement and propping up the worst-affected area might not stop the building from sinking or leaning elsewhere. No solution has been accepted by all of the parties involved in the legal battle as of yet, but AN will follow up if plans to stabilize the building move forward. More information on why the window broke should be forthcoming; the Department Of Building Inspection has ordered Millennium management to fix the window-washing rig on the roof to allow in-person inspection of the window by 3:00 p.m. this Friday. Engineers must also conduct a survey of all of the tower's windows, other units, and potential damage to the facade by Friday afternoon, and install an overhead safety barrier to prevent debris from falling on the sidewalk by later today if they wish to avoid having the building yellow tagged. A full forensic report is expected to be submitted to the city as well.
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New report says sinking Millennium Tower is a fire hazard

San Francisco’s sinking Millennium Tower may be less safe than previously thought, according to a new report by NBC Bay Area. The Handel Architects–designed tower, already the center of several lawsuits, could be exposing residents to a widespread fire risk owing to newly-formed gaps between the building’s curtain wall and structure. As previously reported, the 58-story, 645-foot-tall residential tower has already unevenly sunk 17 inches since opening in 2009, due to a foundation of concrete friction piles that extend 60 to 90 feet into the sandy soils below. After condo owner Paula Pretlow hired Palo Alto, California–based consultants Allana Buick & Bers to locate the source of mysterious odors in her unit in December of 2016, they discovered that the smells were likely coming from gaps that had opened up due to the building’s settlement. More important than the odors, however, the newly enlarged voids under the curtain wall would allow fire and smoke to climb upwards via a “wind tunnel” effect, similar to what happened at London’s Grenfell Tower earlier this year. However, in the final version of the report given to Pretlow, Allana Buick & Bers had blacked out their fire-related findings. Although the building consultants’ analysis was confined only to Pretlow’s 31st-floor unit, they indicated that the issue could be present throughout Millennium Tower, according to the un-redacted version of documents obtained by NBC Bay Area. “This condition may be more widespread than these two test areas and may be present in the entire stack. We recommend further investigation of this issue. These openings represent a breach in the fire and smoke barrier … which is a life and fire safety hazard to the occupants.” Pretlow fought for a year with Allana Buick & Bers for the unedited version of the report, which was only recently obtained. Now, after Pretlow had filed a new complaint to the San Francisco Fire Department, the fire marshal is scheduled to make a fresh round of inspections at the tower this week. In light of the new findings, an attorney for the homeowner’s association has released a statement saying that several facade panels have been removed recently so that engineers could inspect the underlying structure. Larry Karp, a geotechnical expert, told NBC Bay Area that as the building tilts and continues to sink, curtain wall sections would continue to bear an increasing amount of stress and bend further out of place. “The fact that they are coming apart is inevitable, it’s just a matter of time. It’s going to get worse.”
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San Francisco’s Millennium Tower is sinking and tilting

According to recent findings, San Francisco’s sinking condo tower just got a little bit more down to earth.

The 58-story Millennium Tower, designed by Handel Architects, has sunk nearly 17 inches since its opening in 2009. Last summer, controversy enveloped the failing monolith when the settling came to light, as residents posted videos online of objects rolling across their floors to demonstrate just how slanted the 419-unit building had become.

Recently, engineers with Arup—employed to work on the currently under-construction Salesforce Tower designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects next door—inspected the Millennium Tower’s rooftop height and found that the tower had sunk an additional 2 ½ inches beyond the initial 14 ½–inch drop recorded last year. Increasingly, the tower is tilting precariously toward the Salesforce Tower, as the muddy and sandy soils beneath it give way. It is built on a foundation of concrete friction piles, driven between 60 and 90 feet into the soil, that do not rest on bedrock. The method is employed by several other developments in the area, though the type of settling occurring at the Millennium Tower has not been seen in any of those projects.

Troublingly, the tower is not only sinking, but it is sinking unevenly, resulting in a measurable slant to the 645-foot-tall complex. As the muddy and sandy soils beneath it give way, it continues to tilt precariously toward the Salesforce Tower. As of 2016, according to court documents, the tower exhibited a 2-inch westward tilt at the base and listed a whopping 10 inches at its top. Recent projections put the potential maximum drift at 10 inches every two years unless something is done to rectify the issue.

As can be expected, the structural deficiencies have resulted in a flurry of lawsuits, including one from the building’s homeowners’ association. The association is seeking to force Millennium Partners, developers and owners of the tower, to perform $150 million worth of foundation upgrades that would add 150 new end-bearing piles in an effort to rest the building on bedrock.

“This accelerated movement highlights the need to retrofit the foundation as soon as possible,” Daniel Petrocelli, attorney for the Millennium Tower homeowners’ association told NBC Bay Area. “The Millennium Tower Association will request an early trial in its ongoing lawsuit to hold the responsible parties accountable.” 

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Millennium Tower sinks another inch but there could be a fix

The Millennium Tower in San Francisco has sunk another inch in the past seven months, but on the brighter side, engineers have found a potential fix, according to SFGate.

The residential tower has been plagued with issues since last year when news got out that it had sunk 16 inches since its opening in 2008 (make it 17 now). It’s not just sinking, either—the tower is settling unevenly and leaning more towards the northern side in a 14-inch tilt from the building’s roof.

Millennium Partners, the developers behind the Handel Architects–designed building, hired a team of engineers, who believe they have a solution that will prop the tower back up. According to LERA and DeSimone Consulting Engineers, drilling 50 to 100 new piles down to bedrock from the building’s basement will rectify the problem. This fix could cost up to $150 million.

The building’s million-dollar apartments have attracted big-name buyers, including San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence and former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. But when it was revealed that the tower had sunk more than its predicted six inches, residents filed individual lawsuits. The tower’s homeowners association (HOA) also filed a case against both Millennium Partners and Transbay Joint Powers Authority, the firm behind the adjacent Transbay Transit Center.

The gravity of the situation is increasing as a new report by Arup, which has conducted previous reports on the tower, reveals that the rate of sinking remains constant with no sign of let up. “This accelerated movement highlights the need to retrofit the foundation as soon as possible,” Daniel Petrocelli, who is the lead attorney against the developer, said in a statement in NBC Bay Area.

A statement released by the developers in response to the report continued to pin the blame on construction of nearby developments, which they claim destabilize the soil under the tower. “We are hopeful that the HOA will take steps to protect the building from further harm from adjacent construction at the Transbay Transit Center and Salesforce Tower projects,” the statement read. “Our top priority has always been getting to a fix.”

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Residents of tilting Millennium Tower to sue developers

Millennium Partners, the developer of Handel Architects—designed Millennium Tower in San Francisco, is being taken to court over the building's alarming sinking issue. The tower's homeowners association (HOA) let residents know last Thursday that it was filing a case against both Millennium Partners and Transbay Joint Powers Authority—the firm behind the substantial transit development adjacent to the tower. In the months prior to this, the HOA had staved off any legal action, advising tenants to do the same, as they privately discussed workarounds with the developer. (Some residents still filed lawsuits of their own.) During this process, the finger of blame was pointed toward the $2 billion, Pelli Clarke Pelli–designed transit scheme nearby that reportedly destabilized the tower's foundations. The 20 tenants that took matters into their own hands, though, made a different case. They argued that Millennium Partners was well aware that the structure had sunk significantly more—and at a faster rate—than expected, and failed to let prospective buyers know. A study in Fall of last year found that the tower and sunk 16 inches since it’s opening in 2008. By contrast, initial predictions for the building suggested that it would only sink six inches over its lifetime. To make matters worse, Millennium Tower is not settling evenly either, something which has result in a two-inch tilt. According to coverage from NBC Bay Area, the HOA has said: "The lawsuit would be intended to ... hold the defendants responsible for the damage to the building and... require the defendants to fund a comprehensive repair and restoration of the building, among other relief." A meeting scheduled for March 6 will apparently be held to "to discuss problems that may lead to the filing of a civil action, nonlitigation options, and other considerations." Whether the residents, unlike their tower, settle, remains to be seen.
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Foster + Partners breaks ground on San Francisco’s second-tallest tower

Foster + Partners, and Heller Manus developers Oceanwide Holdings broke ground last week on the Oceanwide Center in San Francisco, a mixed-use project that, when completed, would become the city’s second-tallest tower. The project, a 2.4-million square foot complex consisting of condominiums, office space, and a hotel, occupies a 1.4-acre site and has been designed to contain public spaces in a pair of adaptively-reused historic structures along the ground floor. The complex will be composed of two towers: a primary 850-foot, 75-story tall structure containing 1,010,000-square-feet of office space and 111 condominium units and a 605-foot, 54-story tall tower containing a 171-room Waldorf Astoria hotel and 154-condominium units. The taller tower is demarcated by a large-scale, diagonally gridded truss system that climbs the height of the tower, creating a crenelated cap at the apex, while the shorter tower features a gridded facade filled with rectangular, punched openings. The gridded structure of the larger tower meets the floor to create a giant, open-air, landscaped plaza. The tower complex joins a series of other projects, including the Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects—designed Salesforce tower, the Heller Manus Architects—designed 181 Fremont, and the Handel Architects—designed Millennium Tower, are transforming the Transbay area of San Francisco. The new tower district is rising around the Transbay Terminal, a new multi-modal transit hub also designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. The first phase of the terminal is due to be completed in late 2017. Controversy erupted this year when the nearby Millennium Tower began to sink, a result of the fact that the tower is built on a concrete slab supported by 60- to 90-foot deep friction piles and not, as would be more structurally-appropriate for the area’s soil conditions, end-bearing pylons. As a result, the tower’s foundation does not actually reach the bedrock below the city and the tower has not only sunk 16-inches into the ground, but has also tilted between two- and six-inches toward the northwest. To avert a similar problem, Oceanwide Center is designed to be supported by foundation piles that drive down up to 400-feet below ground and connect directly with bedrock.   Oceanwide Center is due to finish construction in 2021.
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San Francisco’s Millennium Tower is tilting and sinking

The tallest residential tower in San Francisco, and the city's third tallest overall, has sunk 16 inches since it's opening in 2008, according to SFGate. Designed by Handel Architects, the Millennium Tower is one of the highest-profile buildings in the city with units selling as high as $12 million for a penthouse, one of which was owned by venture capitalist Thomas Perkins until his death earlier this year. Other notable residents include San Francisco Giants outfielder Hunter Pence and former 49ers quarterback Joe Montana. Currently the Transbay Transit Center, a transit station and neighborhood development project, is under construction on an adjacent site. Its first phase is due to be completed in late 2017, but a study of the site conducted by Arup in 2010 found that the tower had already sunk ten inches. Initial predictions for the tower suggested that it would only sink six inches over its lifetime. Of added concern is the fact that the tower is not settling evenly, and now has a tilt of two inches. Professor Greg Deierlein of the John A. Blume Earthquake Engineering Center at Stanford University told SFGate that these figures were "significant...and of concern," but not yet a threat to safety. However, the imbalance can lead to expensive maintenance costs down the road due to cracking walls and other structural issues. The Transbay Transit Center and the building's developer, Millennium Partners, have each placed blame for the tilt on the other. P.J. Johnson, a spokesperson for Millennium Partners, told SFGate that the nearby construction on the Transit Center caused the problem, suggesting that adequate measures were not taken to protect the tower during the excavation. Representatives of the Transit Center, on the other hand, have suggested that Millennium engineers cut costs and failed to anchor the building into the bedrock. The building also uses concrete rather than steel, and is therefore much heavier. It's unclear what steps developers will take to combat the issue, but it will likely involve expensive and complicated repairs.
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Beantown Rising: Big Development On the Horizon In Boston

For Bostonians, cranes and scaffolding have become a common fixture in the city’s landscape. In recent years, there’s been a slew of new developments cropping up everywhere from Roxbury to Fenway, with the bulk of construction concentrated in South Boston’s waterfront, and more specifically in a sub-section that Mayor Thomas M. Menino has dubbed the “Innovation District.” AN has compiled a list of some of the most high profile projects happening in the city. South Boston Waterfront Construction of Vertex Pharmaceuticals’ headquarters at Fan Pier is well on its way. Mayor Menino “topped off” the first building this summer, which will be part of a 1.1-million-square-foot development that includes offices, biomedical research laboratories, retail, restaurant spaces, residential units, a hotel, a park, and a marina. Local architecture firms Elkus Manfredi Architects and Tsoi/Kobus & Associates have designed the two towers, slated for completion in 2013 and 2014. Vertex will be leasing the towers for $1.1 billion, which according to Pharmaceutical-Technology.com, is the largest commercial lease in Boston. Across the street from Fan Pier, the $5.5 million Boston Innovation Center, designed by Hacin + Associates, is now under construction. This 12,000-square-foot facility will offer a space for companies to hold meetings and host events, including a restaurant with a test kitchen. The Center is part of Mayor Menino’s vision to turn this part of the city into the Innovation District. There’s been little development on Pier 4 to date, but that's about to change with a new mega complex (aptly called Pier 4) that will kick off with the construction of a 21-story, residential tower. This 9.5-acre mixed-use project, designed by ADD Inc, will consist of a hotel, retail, residential, office, and civic uses. In a story in Boston.com, Casey Ross calls attention to the fate of Anthony’s Pier 4 restaurant—the waterfront institution that will soon be replaced by parkland. The strange plot twist in the story is that Anthony Athanas, the late restaurant owner, had once advocated for a mixed-use development on Pier 4 in the 1980s, but lost the property in a dispute with his former development partner.  In an effort to boost Boston’s ranking as one of the top five cities in North America for conventions, the city has approved a $2 billion master plan to expand the Boston Convention and Exhibition Center to accommodate several new hotels, retail and commercial space, and a grass-covered rooftop park. The Massachusetts Convention Center Authority (MCCA) issued an RFP for a developer to build and finance the project. While the development is still in its infancy, the MCCA has taken steps towards the expansion with its purchase of six acres of land adjacent to the Center, which they envision will be used for two mid-priced hotels. A spokesman for the MCCA told AN: "We need to build up the number of hotels before we expand the actual convention center." Another 1,000-room "headquarters" hotel is also in the long-term plan. The Boston firm ADD Inc, along with Atlanta-based firm tvsdesign, have drawn up the renderings of the expansion, but no architect of record has been hired yet for the project. Fenway Just when developer John Rosenthal might have thought he was out of the woods, overcoming recent legal hurdles, and ready to move forward with his $450 million Fenway Center Development, he faces yet another roadblock. But this time, as the Boston Globe reports, the conflict is with the state over a long-term lease for the project. If a deal can't be reached, Rosenthal might lose his investor. The plan is to build a mixed-use complex, designed by Carlos Zapata Studio/DHK Architects, over Massachusetts Turnpike, which includes 500 residences, retail and commercial space, and a commuter rail station. Our friends at Curbed reported that the five buildings are supposed to be powered by solar panels. Downtown Crossing When department store Filene's Basement shut its doors, it left a void in downtown Boston. But, it didn't take long for developers to set their sights on this former department store and the surrounding area. As AN reported on Friday, developer Millennium Partners took over the project and hired Handel Architects to renovate the 1912 building by Daniel Burnham and turn into office and retail space. The next phase of the project will be the Millennium Tower, a 625-foot mixed-use tower, which is expected to be the tallest residential building in Boston once it is complete. More views of projects described above: