Gehry NYC Skyscraper Design (Image Source:
As if right on cue, the day after we publish an overview of the Transbay Redevelopment, the Transbay Joint Powers Authority ratifies an international design competition for the Transbay Terminal and an adjacent skyscraper.
Not just any skyscraper, but a “1,000-foot high-rise that would include a hotel, as well as residential and commercial units” and stand 150 feet taller than the Transamerica Pyramid (currently the tallest building in San Francisco). We’re thinking bold. We’re thinking iconic. We’re thinking Gehry.
The Transbay Redevelopment [SocketSite]
Worldwide design hunt is on [Examiner]
Wikipedia: Frank Gehry []
Gehry/Ratner Renderings! [Curbed]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Justin

    While the Transamerica is the tallest building in San Francisco, the tallest “occupied” building–that is, the building with the most floors–is the Bank of America building. The Transamerica has 48 floors, while the Bank of America has 52 floors. (The tiny bit of height that makes the Transamerica the tallest is in the apex of the pyramid.)

  2. Posted by Dude

    First thing that popped into my head when I saw this was Taipei 101.

  3. Posted by Damion

    Yuck, Gehry is the ’00s. This thing won’t be built for years still — who’s gonna want the Gehry look then? I want innovation, but sophistication — and Gehry is a garish Disney mishmash. Let LA have him. I despise his work, which is not for San Francisco at all.

  4. Posted by Mike

    Agree 100% with the Gehry comment. His buildings are tacky and gimmicky. He had one good building in Bilbao and rode it for all it’s worth. He’s become a self parody.

  5. Posted by curmudgeon

    Ditto. Gehry has nothing new to say…and certainly hasn’t proved that he can build skyscrapers. Can we be saved from another Morphosis -Thom Mayne assault (new Fed building)too?

  6. Posted by etslee

    sigh…typical SF backlash against anything new or different. Puhleeze, can we have more Victorians and boring boxes.

  7. Posted by 49Giants

    Gehry’s designs are innovative, distinct, and sensual. That’s what I would have said 10 years ago. Now, I think that his stuff looks like discarded, metallic tissue paper. That is his design inspiration, isn’t it?
    I don’t think a rejection of Gehry is a rejection of something new and different; by now, he is neither. However, I do sincerely hope that SF allows for innovative design with this building. SF loves tradition, and that’s great. But if the traditionalists won out back in the day, we wouldn’t have the Transamerica Building. Love it or hate it, it is the defining landmark of SF’s skyline. Yes, we have the hills, the bridges, but when I look at skylines of cities, I look for the Pyramid. If I see it, I know its SF. If I don’t see it, I know its Houston or la or Boston or something or another.
    How often does an opportunity like this come up in our fair city? Think curves. Think angles. Hell, think donut holes. But Gehry? Eh.

  8. Posted by Peter P

    sigh…typical SF backlash against anything new or different. Puhleeze, can we have more Victorians and boring boxes.
    How is that possible? So many of its residents are angry when the entire country thinks that they are… different.

  9. Posted by SocketSite

    Lots of knocks on Gehry, but not many suggestions of other architects/firms you’d like to see lead the design. How about some links to other skyscrapers/terminals/designs that you find to be particularly inspiring? Help broaden our design horizons. No, seriously.

  10. Posted by curmudgeon

    Not to be identified as a Victorian backlasher…I’ll list a few likes. I’ve loved 101 2nd since the moment it opened and it’s aging very well (SOM – Craig Hartman), and Caesar Pelli’s 560 Mission just around the corner is great too. Restrained, thoughful, inventive modernism is what I guess floats my boat.
    I think some of Gehry’s stuff is great, particularly for special purpose buildings (Bilbao, Disney Hall, Pritzker Pavillion) but it’s hard to translate that inventiveness with forms into a tall building that needs to be part of the city fabric.
    For the tallest building in SF, we need something that will stand the test of time, and won’t be a faddy joke. (which I’m convinced the new federal building by Morphosis will be seen as…but we’ll see).
    Of course there are a lot of architects who haven’t built here yet, and there’s a long list I’d like to see submit on this project. Like Calatrava, for instance.

  11. Posted by DesignGuy

    I guess these comments are consistent with San Francisco’s need to prevent anything nice from coming into town. I supposed you would rather have a run down building overtaken by homeless people instead of letting a world reknowned architect design something that can create interest in the city.

  12. Posted by susapix

    I was hoping Calatrava would do the new cruise ship terminal.
    (OK, I know, but I can dream, can’t I? And it would have been a good project for him.) But since that is a no-go for now a huge tower by him would be good. I could go for that.
    Even better would be Herzog and De Meuron, though they have already done a building in SF.
    My personal favorite for a tall, tall tower would be, of course, Norman Foster.

  13. Posted by amused

    Second the nod to Foster. He’s proven to not only be remarkably innovative, but also remarkably green.
    It is important that we suppress the nostalgic hippie undercurrent that makes SF an architectural laughingstock.

  14. Posted by etslee

    My dream choices would be Rem Koolhaas (loved the Seattle Library) or Tadao Ando.

  15. Posted by Damion

    I agree with Etslee. The Koolhaas library is divine, although I worry it won’t age well. Has Tadao Ando done highrises? That would be perfect. That’s what is needed — the sophistication of Ando!

  16. Posted by Dave

    Let me add a vote for Koolhaas. He’s a genius.

  17. Posted by Dan

    I’d love to see what Gehry would propose for the site. And Calatreva. And Foster. And Koolhaas. Just as Foster probably wouldn’t submit another gherkin, Gehry might surprise us.
    I wonder whether Koolhaas would bother with submitting a proposal after the shabby treatment the proposed Prada building received.

  18. Posted by nk

    I’ve read comments from Gehry stating he’s never attempted to design anything in SF because the reigning architectural conservatism would prevent him from doing anything worthwhile. It’s hard to argue with his point, although I like to think that with the De Young and the Federal Building indicate a greater openness toward architectural innovation. At some point SF has to get past its “design by committee” architectural mediocrity.

  19. Posted by greg

    I’d like to see something from Norman Foster, Richard Rogers or Santiago Calatrava. Each one has a sublime sense of space and materials, and all three are at the forefront of intelligent structural engineering. I especially admire Lord Foster’s design philosophy.
    Personally, I feel that Frank Gehry has turned into a one-trick pony. But perhaps the “reigning architectural conservatism” in SF might actually force him to think outside his sculptural box and come up with a creative solution.

  20. Posted by Justin

    If anything… As a San Francisco native–and recent returnee from New York City–I wish that Richard Meyer, Orion, Cipriani Residence, 255 Hudson, or Zinc Building would make its way to the City.

  21. Posted by Susapix

    Oh no, please not Koolhaus! Please, please, please. I know he’s kool but just ask anyone who has worked for him. Ask anyone who had anything to do with any of his projects. They have nightmares – seriously. And it would be so big!
    I’d have to leave town. And I’d rather not.

  22. Posted by Will Beaubien

    I love reading arhitectural criticism. I think those that don’t like what is designed for the city should first of all realize that what was proposed is someones hard work and a work of art. Second, they should become developers and design what they like themselves. If that is not possible for lack of capital, hard work, or vision then they should be less critical of what others propose.

  23. Posted by cody

    I like the wave design i think it is a nice modern appeal to any cityscape/

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