181 Fremont: Rendering (www.SocketSite.com)
181 Fremont
Another tower, this one a mere 900 feet, has been proposed for the area surrounding San Francisco’s new Transbay Terminal and Tower. And according to J.K. Dineen, the “razor-thin skyscraper” at 181 Fremont “would include 500,000 square feet of office space beneath about 140 residential condominiums.”

The Fremont Street parcel is one of several sites where the city is considering allowing tall towers as a source of tax revenue to help bankroll the $3.4 billion Transbay Terminal and Tower. Under the plan, developers around the transit center and tower — likely to soar 1,300 feet or more — could build well above current 300- to 500-foot zoning restrictions in exchange for pumping millions of dollars in additional taxes to help pay for building new infrastructure in the Transbay District as well as the terminal programing itself.

Designed by HellerManus, the proposed tower on Fremont “would have a glass curtain wall and exterior structural system…would seek a gold stamp of approval from the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design… [and] include a highly efficient sawtooth glazing system that allows daylighting but reduces unwanted heating.”
And yes, as is now de rigeur, the “developer is also looking into solar power [and] wind turbines…”
Another tower added to Transbay [Business Times]
San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal Design Proposals: Highlights [SocketSite]
The SocketSite Scoop: San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal Designs [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Justin

    My first thought was that it looks like the Bank of China building in Hong Kong (though I somehow doubt we would get pulsing lights along the edges of a building in SF anytime soon)

  2. Posted by curmudgeon

    My second thought is…this is Heller Manus? Derivative, yes…but looks handsome in the rendering. Details and materials tell all though…..

  3. Posted by kevin

    Can’t tell if Town Hall and the great plaza get blitzed by this proposal or not… anyone know?
    [Editor’s Note: At the very least, we’re fairly certain that Town Hall survives.]

  4. Posted by Spencer

    i love this design

  5. Posted by SFhighrise

    I would like to see the city reverse Prop M. It seems a bit dated and counterproductive. My concern would be that this prop’s existence could delay the progress in this part of the city. I would like to see all of these developments expedited, for the betterment of the neighborhood and the city as a whole.

  6. Posted by shark

    HellerManus must have hired a good summer intern.

  7. Posted by j94109

    These landmark towers are a fabulous addition to the skyline. Hopefully SF can obtain more residential or mixed-use towers and thereby transform itself to a modern city like Vancouver. Visionary developments like this are desperately needed here!

  8. Posted by canuck

    Sorry to say it, but SF will never be as gorgeous as Vancouver. It just wasn’t blessed with the natural scenery they have up there.

  9. Posted by Jummy

    the problem with Vancover is that you ahve to live with a bunch of Canadians.

  10. Posted by anonandon

    WOW! Talk about a dated design. Looking at this drawing is like going in the way-back machine to the late 70′s – early 80′s. All of the high rise cheerleaders may want to consider that bigger does not make it better. Why are we even trying to compete in the skyline contest? Chicago, Vancouver, NYC, etc. are decades ahead of us. Here is a question, why do citizens in Rome and Paris not beg for tall buildings? Perhaps they are confident in the beauty and world class status of their cities. It is just possible we don’t need tall ugly buildings to make us feel like a grown up city.

  11. Posted by anon

    ^obviously you havnt seen what Paris is proposing.
    all large cities are growing up, simply because their is less room to grow out.

  12. Posted by Jummy

    Paris and Rome are not economic powerhouses like SF. We need to show our muscle.

  13. Posted by tipster

    The one most innovative feature of this building has not been mentioned. It actually gets built off site and arrives as a cube on the back of a flatbed truck.
    They it is carefully “unfolded” on site into it’s final shape.
    The top piece arrives on a separate truck and is then lifted on via very tall forklift truck. The shipping pallet will need to be left in place between the top of the lower half and the bottom of the upper half.
    The whole building will be up in a matter of 3 days from when the foundation is cured.
    At least that’s what it looks like. Ha ha!
    (I like it.)

  14. Posted by Tony

    I like this proposal as well. The design may not be as bold as the designs put forward for the Transbay design contest, but it works. Definitely the best work put forward by Heller Manus – EVER.

  15. Posted by shark

    Townhall and the plaza stay. The plaza serves as the official address / entrance for 199 Fremont. Beale or Howard weren’t considered classy enough adddresses 10 years ago!

  16. Posted by Mary

    “razor thin skyscraper”?!
    Real Estate language is as inflated and incorrect as wine snob jingo. This one looks like a squeezebox that’s been pulled past it’s musical limitations.

  17. Posted by etslee

    I like this tower as well.
    Vancouver is certainly beautiful, but I wouldn’t say the skyline is anything magnificent. The glass towers look nice together, but are neither distinctive or unique. Of course, the backdrop of mountains makes it far more interesting than SF.

  18. Posted by sanfranvalues

    Actually, Vancouver is desirable precisely because it *isn’t* full of Canadians. Last time I read, it was the most diverse, multicultural city in the world. Which is pretty cool for wonder bread Canada.

  19. Posted by Timosha

    “Which is pretty cool for wonder bread Canada.”
    Wonder Bread Canada? How 1950s. You’re talking about a country that has a popular sitcom called Little Mosque on the Prairie. Go to Montreal or Toronto (44% of the population is foreign born), both of which are far more diverse than Vancouver.

  20. Posted by Observer

    Vancouver rocks, amazing city and people but with so many towers built in the last 10 years there is a lot of sameness, in the way that any planned community has (think Mission Bay). Still it has been a recognzed as a leader in urban design in a way that SF has not and I think was referenced here as such.

  21. Posted by Observer

    Picked up The Economist this morning and saw this:
    Oh dear, Vancouver strikes again!
    http://www.economist.com/markets/rankings/displaystory.cfm?story_id=8908454
    Encouraging SF was neither at the top or the bottom

  22. Posted by sanfranvalues

    re: your Economist article:
    at the bottom, it states “The threat of terrorism and civil unrest is a major contributing factor to the cities that suffer from the worst liveability scores”
    I find this rather bizarre for “livability,” but if they are using these kind of scales, of course San Francisco or any American city would never be able to compete with Canada.

  23. Posted by sanfranvalues

    Why would anybody think that subjection to Canadian winters and horrible weather would be the most livable in the world? This is all subjective. I much prefer the mild, air conditioned climate and the beaches of the bay area over snow drizzle and gray (hey, we already have enough of our fair share of that gray stuff). Either way, competing cities with each other based on different standards of measurements will never yield anything more that “I like my city better than your city,” very childish and prehistoric. This entire site, after all is about San Francisco real estate, so let’s leave it at that.

  24. Posted by anonarch

    Since almost everyone seems to like this “70′s” design, my question is do you like it because it is sort of retro-nostalgic, or do you just like it because it is tall? It is interesting that on other Bay Area design-architecture sites, people are furious at the poor design quality of many new projects in the city. There are many who still believe that a couple of trophy towers will not solve ANY of the problems San Francisco currently faces. I would much rather see this city focus on in-fill housing, new higher desity boulevards (such as Geary and Lombard), and better public transportation that is safe and works. Perhaps Faye Dunaway should go to the HellerManus Design Studio and seduce whoever is coming up with all these bad designs back to their beach house at Sea Ranch (Towering Inferno Movie Ref.) and away from ruining our city with these horrors.

  25. Posted by Bob

    I LOVE this design. I’m not an expert on architecture, but I really like the “outlines” of the strong diagonal, vertical and horizontal bracing (which I guess serve seismic purpose – like One Maritime?). No accounting for taste, but I love this building. More like this, please.

  26. Posted by holmes

    sanfranvalues,
    why would you assume that nobody enjoys chilly winters? being an avid winter sports lover, i wouldn’t have a problem with BC winters, i’d welcome them. Not to mention, i think you overlook a major factor in your own assessmnet of livability: quality of life. I’m tired of feelilng punished for wanting to live here, tired of feigned progressivism and diversity. The overblown SF ego you exhibit is one of the unattractive things about living here. When i find the right work, i’ll move to Seattle or Vancouver in a heartbeat, and i know, from research and experience, that won’t be hard to do.

  27. Posted by sanfranvalues

    holmes: BYE!
    [Editor's Note: And now back to 181 Fremont...]

  28. Posted by minato

    Paris and Rome are not economic powerhouses like SF. We need to show our muscle.
    What ?
    Paris 2006 GDP : US$628.9 billion
    San Jose-San Francisco-Oakland(CSA) GDP : US$437.2 Billion
    No SF is not an economic powerhouse like Paris.
    I am alway afraid to see how Paris is underrated in economy, it is weird for one of most powerful economic city in the world.

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