Posts tagged with "San Francisco":

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Studio Gang's MIRA Tower twists with alternating window bays

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Located just south of San Francisco's Financial District and blocks away from the bay, MIRA Tower is a housing development that grabs your attention with a highly detailed geometric form. The project joins a spate of recently completed and under construction towers in the Transbay Development Zone, including Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects' Salesforce Tower and the Heller Manus Architects' 181 Fremont. Designed by Studio Gang Architects in collaboration with facade consultant Heintges and fabricator Permasteelisa, the tower presents a spiraling aluminum-and-glass facade arranged in a panoply of bay windows and terraces. Developed by Tishman Speyer, the size of the project is formidable and consists of both a tower and a terrace of townhouses—with a footprint of 50,000 square feet and spanning 700,000 gross square feet. To comply with FAR constraints and rules set out by the district zoning guidelines, the initial design reached a height of 300 feet. Following a request to the city government, the allowable height of the tower was raised to 400 feet with the inclusion of 156 below-market-rate apartments, or just under half the total number of units.  
  • Facade Manufacturer AGC Interpane Alucabond Euro Sabbiature Ductal Permasteelisa
  • Architect Studio Gang Architects
  • Facade Installer Permasteelisa
  • Facade Consultant Heintges
  • Location San Francisco, CA
  • Date of Completion 2020
  • System Custom aluminum curtainwall system
  • Products AGC Interpane Planibel Clearlite with Ipasol Shine 59/32 & Planibel Clearlite ACM Panels by Alucabond L01 UHPC Ductal Panels
Studio Gang turned towards the architectural vernacular of the San Francisco-area for the overall form and massing of the tower and townhomes, reinterpreting classical bay windows into a contemporary gesture. There are ten different bay geometries: each is an isosceles triangle 14-feet wide and with differing spandrel and glazing dimensions, and with a maximum depth of six-and-a-half feet. Thirty bay window units are found at each level, adding up to, in total, over 1,000 across the tower. Shifting the bay geometries was not the initial direction of the project but a discovery during the design phase that, through offsetting and repeating a set of variations every 10 floors, a profound level of detail could be added to the project without causing undue complications in fabrication and construction. Through the inclusion of bay units across the facade, each residence is afforded daylight from multiple directions and sweeping views of the city at large. Facade consultant Heintges joined the project during the early schematic design phase to both conceptualize the enclosure design and develop a facade system with sufficient waterproofing and compatibility with locational seismic requirements. “In this system, the windows act like a freestanding window wall, loaded at the sill and allowing movement at the header,” said the Studio Gang design team. “The spandrel panels, on the other hand, are rigid enough to take the wind loads and transfer the window loads down to the slab.” The resiliency of the tower is further strengthened by a heavy central core that allows for exterior pieces to move independently of another during seismic events. For the longterm maintenance of the facade (specifically window washing at great heights) Studio Gang and Heintges incorporated a number of intermittent stabilization anchors across the bay units. In collaboration with building maintenance consultant CS Caulkins and cleaning device fabricator Sky Rider, the design team developed a custom platform capable of being lifted between the bays by integrated attachment points. The project broke ground in late 2017 and topped out in mid-2019; Permasteelisa handled the fabrication and installation of the facade panels and typically fitted out each floor in four days, completing the job at the tail end of 2019. The bays were fastened directly to the slab edge from within the building, a measure that, along with the division of spandrel and infill, reduced the use of a crane on-site and in turn lessened energy consumption and neighborhood disruptions stemming from site logistics. “Three-dimensional aluminum spandrels cover the slab edge and are anchored to the post-tensioned slab with steel embeds that extend vertically,” continued the Studio Gang design team. “Behind the aluminum panels are stiffeners that resist wind loads, reduce deflections, and control flatness. In order to realize the steps between bay geometry variations, there is always a horizontal portion of the panel which either faces up as a sill condition or down as a soffit condition.” Studio Gang principal Steve Wiesenthal and Heintges senior principal Karen Brandt will present MIRA Tower at Facades+ San Francisco on January 31 as part of the “Twists and Stacks: Assembly Innovations” panel.  
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San Francisco's fourth-tallest tower inches closer to approval

San Francisco’s Planning Commission has approved a new 61-story, 800-foot-tall mixed-use tower at Transbay Center. Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects for a group led by developer Hines, if approved and built as currently planned, it would be the city’s fourth-tallest building. Located at 542-550 Howard Street, the currently vacant site is known as Parcel F and sits across from the Transbay/Salesforce Transit Center and Salesforce Tower—both also designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli. Anticipated to be the last major high-rise in the Transbay district, the proposal incorporates a 189-room hotel, nearly 300,000 square feet of office space, and 165 market-rate condominium units. Additionally, Pelli Clarke Pelli’s design calls for just under 9,000 square feet of retail space and a 183-car below-grade garage with bike parking. The scheme also includes an elevated pedestrian bridge that would connect to the PWP Landscape Architecture-designed Salesforce Park atop the Transit Center. Like its taller neighbor, this latest glassy, 935,000-square-foot building is not without challenges and controversy. The development has already been through several rounds of refinement since the initial design reveal in 2016, with a reduction in the number of hotel rooms and residential units, as well as the size of the proposed commercial and retail uses. The office space is already fully leased to Salesforce. According to the San Francisco Chronicle, the proposal has also faced challenges related to an annual citywide cap on new office space and has met with resistance from community groups in neighboring Chinatown, who are concerned about potential shadows cast over the popular Willie “Woo Woo” Wong Playground. Similarly, although 546 Howard Street’s developers would foot the bill for 337 units of off-site affordable housing, seen as vital in a city with dramatic and seemingly intractable housing shortages, as per the Chronicle, activists have expressed fears that these homes will not be affordable enough for area residents. Despite these setbacks, the San Francisco Planning Commission approved the project, and now 542-550 Howard Street’s final approval rests with San Francisco’s Board of Supervisors.
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EHDD discusses Facades+ and industry trends in the Bay Area

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On January 31, The Architect’s Newspaper’s Facades+ conference series is returning to San Francisco. The conference co-chair is EHDD, a Bay Area firm with particular expertise in sustainable design. The morning is split into three panels discussing the resilient design features of 181 Fremont and The Exchange; the complex facade assemblies of Mira Tower and 950 Market Street; and the refurbishment of the historic Pacific Gas & Electric along with the building reuse of 633 Folsom. Participating firms include Atelier Ten, Handel Architects, Heintges, Heller Manus Architects, Gensler, RCH, Studio Gang, SGH, The Swig Company, and WJE. In this interview with The Architect's Newspaper EHDD principal Brad Jacobson, associate principal Lynne Riesselman, associate Ivan Chabra, and senior associate Katherine Miller discuss the curation of the morning symposium as well as their present body of work. AN: San Francisco, and the Bay Area as a whole, is undergoing a tremendous phase of growth and development. What opportunities and challenges does that present for AEC practitioners, and how is EHDD addressing them?  Brad Jacobson: Economies go in cycles, and we have been riding a long wave. These times of optimism are opportunities to explore innovative solutions to some of our toughest problems. Here in the Bay Area, these range from climate change, to housing affordability, to enriching public discourse. We’ve been finding success, for example, designing with Mass Timber as an alternative to concrete and steel. It radically reduces embodied carbon emissions while resulting in an aesthetically higher quality product that also allows for prefabrication and streamlined construction processes. The tremendous amount of construction we are seeing bakes in our city's fabric for decades, if not centuries, both in terms of identity and performance. Key efforts, such as building electrification to wean ourselves off fossil fuels, are a priority as these decisions are difficult to undo. Nearly all of EHDD’s projects in design are all-electric, and we’ve been advocating with local municipalities considering electrification ordinances. A core part of our mission as a design firm is enabling our clients to change the world for the better. For KQED, our new Headquarters design opens up the building to better engage and connect with the community. We need to redouble our efforts to support institutions like KQED who are helping keep our City open, democratic, and equitable at a time when the profit motive is so strong. California is no stranger to natural disasters and is facing increasing strain from climate change. 181 Fremont is a model of earthquake resiliency and The Exchange for a large-scale demonstration of LEED qualification. From your perspective, what lessons can be learned from these two case studies and which recent projects by EHDD demonstrate the firm's commitment to resilient design? Lynn Rieselman: Resiliency is such a complex topic. By examining these projects in juxtaposition, we identify how they show leadership in two distinct aspects of resilient design. Sustainability is one cornerstone of resilience: the more effective we are, collectively from a sustainability standpoint, the less our resilience will be tested in the long run. Despite being a speculative office building, and over 700,000 square feet, the Exchange was designed to achieve dual LEED Platinum and Well Certification. It’s an excellent example for the commercial development sector that sustainable design can and should be pursued at every scale. In contrast, the design of 181 Fremont exemplifies excellent resilience against known threats. The project is designed above and beyond code with the intention that it would stay operational after a major seismic event, a plan that is proudly expressed through its triangulated exoskeleton. This strategy protects the investment made in the building, and creates the potential for the project to act as a resource for its community by providing shelter to others in the event of a major regional disruption. The third prong of resilience that we must consider as a design community is speculative resilience, or how our designs will address threats that emerge as the effects of climate change become more tangible. At EHDD, we regularly work on the waterfront, leading us to consider the more pessimistic predictions around sea-level rise. For example, our recent project concept for the National Aquarium of New Zealand identified a multi-faceted resilience strategy, including: a visitor level raised above a worst-case 100-year storm surge, a water-tight basement with sealed penetrations, elevated mission-critical equipment, and a site design that restores native marsh and dune ecology to channel flooding from the building. The design is also intended to exceed seismic codes and has an envelope that incorporates passive design strategies, so the building remains occupiable and comfortable in the event of power loss. MIRA Tower and 950 Market Street demonstrate a spate of new San Francisco developments pushing the envelope in terms of facade cladding and assembly. What do you hope will be the main takeaways from "Twists and Stacks: Assembly Innovations?" Ivan Chabra: As Brad mentioned, this phase of rapid growth will set the trajectory for the character of our city and region for many years. In addition to making sure we are addressing pressing environmental and social issues, this is a unique opportunity to explore the potential of architectural expression. Both of these new buildings depart from the Miesian paradigm of shear glass curtain walls, taking advantage of the three-dimensional opportunities of facade design and fabrication. Utilizing repetition and variation to create complex geometries, these additions to the San Francisco streetscape and skyline add texture and dynamism to the city without resorting to historicism or purely sculptural form-making. These two projects do so with very different techniques, from the materials that are used to the level and scale of prefabrication (and how that affected the erection process), to the hidden elements and details that make these complex geometries possible. I hope that we gain insight into these differences and an understanding of the parameters of cost, schedule, character, and performance which drove these decisions. It is safe to say that preservation and building reuse are essential to responsible urban growth; Pacific Gas & Electric and 633 Folsom are two sides of the same coin on this subject. How will the audience benefit from the juxtaposition of the two case studies and which facade strategies to be presented are you most curious about. Katherine Miller: Reuse of existing buildings is absolutely essential to responsible growth. From a carbon reduction perspective, retrofits have a huge advantage over new construction. New buildings, even buildings that are 30% more efficient than average existing buildings, can take decades to pay back the emissions generated from their construction. If we are going to meet the goals set by the Paris Agreement and the State of California – to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050 – we need to turn our attention to upgrading our existing building stock. We aren’t going to get there only by building new, energy-efficient structures. Most of the buildings that exist today will still exist in 2050, and this is especially true in a heavily built-up and historic city like San Francisco. The two projects in this panel represent opposite ends of the building re-use spectrum. The 215 Market Street project is a historic restoration and refurbishment of a landmarked 1924 terra-cotta and wood window facade, while 633 Folsom is a transformative re-clad and expansion of a 1966 building. I’m looking forward to hearing about the process that led to the decision to re-use and invest in these existing structures rather than sell or re-build. I think it’s not a coincidence that both buildings have long-term owners with long-range views and a deep history in the City. In terms of specific facade strategies, for 215 Market, I’m interested to hear how a small investigation into window leaks morphed into a full-fledged multi-phase refurbishment. For 633 Folsom, I’m interested to learn how the exterior’s transformation benefits the interior experience through improved daylighting and views. Further information regarding Facades+ San Francisco can be found here.
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HOK will bring a ship-like office complex to San Francisco

The tightly-packed SoMa (South of Market) neighborhood of San Francisco will soon have a new addition in the form of an arresting mixed-use tower that's likely to set a new cultural direction for the area. The ship-like, 14-story project developed by Boston Properties and designed by international architecture, engineering and urban planning firm HOK has recently been unanimously approved for construction by the San Francisco Planning Commission. Joel Koppel, Vice President of the Planning Commission, stated that “Boston Properties has, once again, outdone themselves in creating a unique development project that raises the bar in innovation and sustainability and provides direct benefit to the surrounding community.” When complete, the 185-foot-tall 725 Harrison Street will contain over 770,000 square feet of rentable office space, 36,000 square feet of retail space on its lower floors, and over 16,000 square feet of additional space for public use. As one of the tallest buildings in the area, the complex will also feature five roof decks with views across San Francisco. Bob Pester, executive vice president of the San Francisco Region for Boston Properties, expressed that the development "combines an ideal location, a city-leading sustainability program, and thoughtful design to create the best workspace to recruit and retain top talent.” The project signals the further gentrification of SoMa, as five older, garage-programmed buildings and a parking lot will have to be demolished to make way for the new development. With close proximity to some of the city's biggest cultural attractions, including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMoMA), Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, and the Children's Creativity Museum, the new building will likely have little trouble finding tenants for its retail and office spaces. Construction of the new development is expected to happen in two phases, the first of which will take place in late 2020 with an anticipated completion date in 2021. The second phase will include the construction of an adjacent, eight-story-tall building dedicated entirely to affordable housing with approximately 140 units.
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Balbek Bureau converts a San Francisco church into a startup incubator

The trend of converting disused churches into private residences has been exhausted but little has been done by way of turning these former "sacred spaces" into civic or commercial venues. Leading the charge in this new adaptive reuse crusade is Balbek Bureau. The Kiev-based interior architecture firm recently completed 906 World Cultural Center, a multifunctional startup incubator, events space, and co-living concept that occupies a former church in the heart of San Francisco. The complex serves as a launchpad for the development of young companies, enabling them to live, work, socialize, develop, and communicate with like-minded entrepreneurs in a single space. The core of this late nineteenth-century, Mission Revival bethel was re-equipped as an auditorium while its basement was refurbished as a workspace and makers lab. Salvaging and restoring the historic features of the listed Our Lady of Guadalupe church, the firm implemented a scheme that makes use of its dramatic nave and ambulatory alcoves. While the former plays host to a moveable seating and table system, the latter serves a series of lounges. Together, they set the stage for anything from film-screenings to hackathons. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Hacker Architects reveals the U.S.'s next largest mass timber office building, in San Francisco

San Francisco is readying itself to house the largest mass timber office building in the United States as part of a 28-acre development on its historic Pier 70. Spearheaded by Brookfield Properties, the six-story, 310,000-square-foot structure will be among the first new buildings, completed over a 10- to- 15-year timeline, to anchor the city's newest waterfront destination.  Designed by Hacker Architects, the 85-foot-tall office building will feature cross-laminated timber (CLT) floor slabs, glulam columns and beams, steel lateral seismic framing, and metal cladding. The Portland-based studio, with its extensive experience in designing wood-heavy projects, is helping Brookfield bring Pier 70 into the 21st century of eco-friendly architecture.  “The Pier 70 office building will make a statement about how mass timber technologies are pushing design and construction towards environmentally sustainable design solutions that better connect the workplace to the natural environment,” said Hacker principal Corey Martin in a statement.  Located along the city’s southern waterfront in the neighborhood of Potrero Point, Pier 70 was once bustling with industrial innovation, serving as home to several steel and ironworks companies, a shipbuilding group, and a small boat builder over its 100-year history. The area was slated for redevelopment over five years ago, and the core historic structures that have long sat on the pier were recently rehabilitated. Last year, Brookfield started work to clean up the site and prep for new construction, hiring Hacker first to envision the timber office space. One of the integral parts of its design, according to Hacker, will be the structure’s airy interior. By mixing up the ceiling heights, adding windows ranging from 14- to 28-feet high, and using 27-inch exposed wood beams, tenants will have access to ample sunlight and feel the warmth of the all-wood construction throughout the day.  The exterior of the project is meant to be much darker in tone than what’s found on the inside and will feature metal paneling that mimics raw weathering steel in reference to Pier 70’s shipbuilding past. Hacker will chamfer the panels and arrange them in alternating directions on each floor, allowing light to reflect off of them in various ways and create a sense of movement across the facade. Above the lobby level, the architecture will cantilever slightly at the corners, adding further motion to the space while living green walls will add to the sense of connection with nature. So far, the office structure is the only project on the Pier 70 site that’s been publicly projected to include mass timber. Little is known about the other upcoming buildings, except that Hacker and Brookfield will again partner to build it out and that sustainable construction is a top priority. Our decision to use mass timber is inspired by the neighborhood’s culture of creativity, sustainability, and strong opinions,” said Cutter MacLeod, the senior manager of development at Brookfield Properties. “By applying emerging technologies and innovative designs to the structures we’re building here, we are reinforcing that Pier 70 will be a thriving place for creative industries in San Francisco.” Over 2,000 residential units (including affordable housing) and 1.75-million-square-feet of commercial space will be built out in the $3.5 billion megaproject, along with nine acres of parks, playgrounds, and public space. Up to 90,000 square feet is slated to house arts-related nonprofits, while 60,000 square feet of the site will be used for local production and small-scale manufacturing.  San Francisco as a whole seems to be headed toward integrating more all-wood buildings. The San Francisco Chronicle reported that 1 De Haro, by Perkins + Will and Pfau Long Architecture and set to open in 2020, will be the city’s first mass timber project. At the nearby California College of the Arts, Studio Gang is designing a trio of CLT pavilions as well. Design approvals for the Pier 70 timber office building are currently underway. Construction is expected to start this spring and phase 1 of the entire site is expected to open in 2022. 
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Malin + Goetz's new San Francisco store pairs sustainability with simplicity

What with the founders of Malin + Goetz, Matthew Malin, and Andrew Goetz, having cut their teeth in the beauty and design industry respectively, it’s no wonder that their products, as well as their retail environments, are conceived with the purest aesthetic considerations in mind. The New York-based skincare label’s minimalist packaging—bright colored lettering against a stark white background—is utilitarian with a modern flourish, a signature style they’ve extrapolated to the brand’s stores. For their new San Francisco outpost, Malin + Goetz called upon Bernheimer Architecture, the Brooklyn firm the duo previously entrusted with the design of their home office in Manhattan and their first Los Angeles store. “Malin +Goetz have always asked us for simple responses,” principal Andrew Bernheimer explained. “A modern and thoughtful approach that allows their products and the design of their products to remain legible.” Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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Hem’s San Francisco pop-up is a nod to local skate and surf culture

Los Angeles design scene stalwart Jonathan Olivares has outfitted Stockholm furniture brand Hem’s latest pop-up; an airy, light-filled boutique in the heart of San Francisco’s trendy Hayes Valley district. Open through the start of December, the shop’s aesthetic hints at local skate and surf culture. Paying tribute to the Bay Areas’s rich visual heritage, Olivares devises a scheme that breaks up the sprawling interior with colorful room dividers. Crafted by legendary surfboard shapers Scott Anderson and Skip Engblom, these spatial elements carry similar materiality and hue. Accompanying white walls and exposed concrete floors, the room dividers help create the perfect backdrop for the brand’s inherently Scandinavian yet contemporary product range. The colorways accent tones apparent in the brand’s minimalistic luminaires, furnishings, and textiles: the Kumo Sofa by Anderssen & Voll, Last Stool by Max Lamb, and Hai Chair by LucaNichetto, as well as a number of accessories including the Stripe Throw by Arthur Arbesser, Storm Cushion by Sylvain Willenz, and Table Mortar by Mark Braun. Read the full article on our interiors and design website, aninteriormag.com.
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James Corner Field Operations-designed addition to the Presidio moves forward

The Presidio in San Francisco, a 1,480-acre park and former US Army military fort on the northwest tip of the city, is about to receive a relatively small but notable addition. A “groundmaking” ceremony was held on November 7 for The Tunnel Tops, a 14-acre addition to the Presidio designed by international landscape architecture firm James Corner Field Operations (JCFO). The new addition will rest on top of the Presidio Parkway tunnels to reconnect Crissy Field and the rest of the park following their separation for nearly 80 years and will include a three-acre play area, connecting pathways, extensive gardens with native vegetation, and elevated overlooks with unobstructed views of the Golden Gate Bridge. The design makes use of the steep slopes required to clear the tunnels with the inclusion of seating steps molded from the lawn (named “The Presidio Steps” by the firm), viewing terraces, and an open plaza with a large unprogrammed platform. Given its solid foundation, a campfire site along the edge of the addition named the "campfire circle" is designed to support the growth of native trees, allowing the site to become thickly forested over time. “The iconic setting is perfect for transforming highway infrastructure into a vibrant new public space,” said James Corner. JCFO began designing The Tunnel Tops in 2014 following a community conversation that ensured the project would “offer residents and visitors alike an inclusive and safe space in which to connect with the great outdoors,” according to the park’s official website. More than 10,000 people participated in workshops and tours of the site to offer insights into how the remade areas could become a significant addition to the historic park. James Corner Field Operations has been behind some of the most imaginative landscape projects across America in the 21st century, including Santa Monica’s Tongva Park and New York City’s High Line. The Tunnel Tops is anticipated to open to the public in 2021.
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Postcommodity amplifies sinking Millennium Tower in new audio installation

Though it was announced in September that structural renovations estimated to cost over $100 million were approved to shore up San Francisco’s Millennium Tower, the 58-story building continues to sink and lean without a clear construction schedule in place. The Handel Architects-designed tower has been mired in controversy ever since it was completed ten years ago, and its infamy has only increased since its engineering oversights were made public. Indigenous arts collective Postcommodity has developed a response to the growing notoriety of Millenium tower through a sound installation at the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI). Titled The Point of Final Collapse, the installation translates the gradual movement of the tower into ASMR (Autonomous Sensory Meridian Response) audio by using computational algorithms, which will “transform the sonification of the sinking and tilting of the Millennium Tower into therapeutic sounds designed to encourage relaxation by extending the power of the city’s scenic beauty,” according to the artists. Long Range Acoustic Devices will be installed in SFAI’s historic Chestnut Street Campus tower to “broadcast” the ASMR audio in a four-minute duration each day at 5:00 p.m., aimed in the direction of Millennium Tower and Downtown San Francisco in general Postcommodity created The Point of Final Collapse to “engage the perspectives of a broad public by providing a call to prayer for relief from the economic stresses and dangers of a city in the throes of radical social, cultural, architectural, and economic transformation.” The artists, in other words, see the failure of Millennium Tower as a metaphor for the instability of San Francisco’s current economic and social symptoms, and hope that their piece will help offer a literal wakeup call. The Point of Final Collapse is the final product of Postcommodity’s residency at SFAI, following the group’s win of the 2019 award from The Harker Fund of The San Francisco Foundation. The installation will open to the public on November 15.
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Henning Larsen designs staggered office structure for Mission Rock

Mission Rock, a new 28-acre waterfront development in San Francisco that's co-owned in a public-private partnership with the San Francisco Giants, Tishman Speyer, and the Port of San Francisco, is scheduled to break ground next year. Along with Studio Gang, WORKac, and MVRDV, the Copenhagen-based firm Henning Larsen Architects was selected to design a significant portion for the upcoming neighborhood. The design of Henning Larsen’s contribution, a 13-story office block with a “rock-like outline” tentatively named Building G, was inspired by the geologic rock formations in Eastern California and San Francisco’s steep hills and streets. According to the firm, “the building breaks down the scale of a large commercial block into a ‘neighborhood’ scale” on the ground floor, with public amenities including benches, niches, retail, and “touchable materials." Above the recreational terrace on the fifth floor that wraps around the tower (described by the firm as the “mesa”), the general massing of the 300,000-square-foot building is broken up by volumes of 20-, 40- and 60-foot widths to mirror the dimensions of typical domestic buildings around San Francisco. These volumes are distinguished by green terraces and are arranged to both mitigate dominant winds from the bay as well as produce varying appearances from the street level. “We think of this as a big fat rock instead of a tall one,” said Louis Becker, a partner at Henning Larsen in a statement. “The idea is not a glass building, but a mass that’s carved out.” Building G’s rooftop features wind-sheltered terraces sloping toward the southwest to frame views of the San Francisco Giants’ Oracle Park stadium, the San Francisco skyline, and the Bay Bridge.
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Two miles of San Francisco’s iconic Market Street will soon be car-free

On October 15, the San Francisco Transportation Agency approved the Better Market Street Project, a bold plan to transform two miles of the city’s legendary Market Street into a pedestrian-only zone. The $604 million proposal will add fully-protected bike and transit-only lanes as well as a streetcar loop. To improve pedestrian safety and user experience, the street’s sidewalks will be widened, its uneven brickwork will be replaced with concrete pavers, and several benches and tables will be installed throughout. “A half-million people walk on Market Street each day,” commented Jodie Medeiros, the executive director of the nonprofit group Walk San Francisco, “yet it’s one of our city’s most dangerous streets for traffic crashes.” In response, the most significant aspect of the Better Market Street Project is its ban on personal cars altogether, an idea that sounded radical when it was first proposed ten years ago. The plan does, however, include over 200 yellow commercial loading zones on nearby side streets to accommodate local businesses, and personal cars will be allowed to pass through select intersections. As the city’s busiest thoroughfare, the proposal to transform Market Street was not taken lightly. “After a lengthy public planning process that included hundreds of outreach meetings and conversations with stakeholders,” San Francisco mayor London Breed wrote in a letter to the city’s Municipal Transportation Agency board, “the city has developed a design that will support safety goals, improve transit and transform Market Street for our next generation.” Now that the Better Market Street Project is approved, a design will be chosen by the city and construction for its first phase can begin as early as next year.