September 20, 2007
It’s Official: Pelli Clarke Pelli/Hines Win The Transbay Competition
It’s Official, the Pelli Clarke Pelli/Hines team have won the Transbay Terminal and Tower design competition.
But even as they selected the Hines-Pelli team over two rivals, leaders of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority stressed that the proposal now on the table is a starting point, not a fait accompli.
Although the authority board was unanimous today in their decision to select the Hines-Pelli team, several members said they expected the tower to eventually include both residential and commercial space. The original tower proposal included only commercial space.
∙ Skyscraper team chosen for giant Transbay Terminal project [SFGate]
∙ Transbay Terminal (And Tower) Design Competition: The Teams [SocketSite 1/07]
∙ Hines And Pelli Clarke Pelli Bid The Most (And Get The Transbay Nod) [SocketSite 9/07]
∙ The SocketSite Scoop: San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal Designs [SocketSite 8/07]
First Published: September 20, 2007 1:01 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
there really is no logic, from a public policy standpoint, to including residential in that tower. certainly not from an environmental perspective: those units are going to be super ultra-luxe with unparalled prices. meaning they ain't going to be primary homes for joe and jane working downtown or taking the train. they're primarily going to be occassionally-occupied trophy city nests for a precious few of the global jet-setting elite. that isn't going to do anything to "create a neighborhood" and it isn't going to do anything for our housing stock. an all-commercial building is certainly far more legitimately supportable from both a "lively neighborhood" and transportation/density/sprawl perspective (itself will generate substantial funding for affordable housing), and if this building is going to be mixed-use, the other use ought to be hotel. A hotel, even a high-end one, will be occupied around the clock and activate the area, and offer an actual symbiotic relationship with the eventual high-speed rail line underneath it. A hotel is also a much more public facility, where the public would be able to access lobbies, restaurants, observation decks, and other facilities in the tower that never are available in sealed private residential buildings. There's a ton, a s--tload, if you will, of residential development going up just a couple blocks to the south.
I have to say, as an aside, as someone who has been reading this site for a short while, this web-site is way too obsessed with housing and condo sales and its perspective is pretty narrow-minded. It's really not about "real estate" in general as its tagline advertises it is.
Posted by: sebastian at September 20, 2007 2:08 PM
"certainly not from an environmental perspective: those units are going to be super ultra-luxe with unparalled prices. meaning they ain't going to be primary homes for joe and jane working downtown or taking the train."
How do you know that? Certainly *some* local people would buy there. And even if out-of-towners buy up all of these proposed condos, what's to keep them from buying elsewhere in SF if the condos don't get built?
Increasing office space without a commensurate increase in housing stock will only cause more commuting into SF via bridges and tunnels which results in more particulate pollution (OK and global warming and general environmental mayhem). SF needs to stop pushing people out to the burbs. I don't buy the idea that building luxury condos does nothing for the middle and lower class -- the people moving into those condos have to some from *somewhere*. Assuming "the rich" sell their old places that adds to supply which should help affordability.
Posted by: Gdog at September 20, 2007 3:47 PM
When can they tear down this vile piss-hole. I walk under it every morning on the way to work on Howard St. and it is disgusting. Vomit, puke, and shopping carts that rats live in I think. Hopefully Hines takes the wrecking ball to it asap.
Posted by: gh at September 20, 2007 3:54 PM
can we borrow mayor Guiliani jsut for a week or two to get rid of the SF homeless problem?
Posted by: jummy at September 20, 2007 4:16 PM
I really hope the new transbay building management has some great plans to keep the place free from bodily fluids and excrement. Unless there is a high level of patrolling the area, it will rapidly turn into a literal cesspool.
I don't know if there is any use speculating the on residential space right now. That hasn't even been discussed yet.
Posted by: anon at September 20, 2007 5:01 PM
There is something very "bread and circus" about the Transbay Tower and it is reflected in the comments. A homeless epidemic, uncivil behavior on the trains and bus, crime and even human waste at stations, all surrounded by a transit system that is known nationally for its failures, and how do we fix this, with a big bright bling bling tower. Quick! Don't look over there at the human doo doo, but gaze at our tall tall tower.
You know a civilization is on the way DOWN when the only things getting built are prisons, stadiums, housing for the rich and entertainment facilities. I expect to see projects like this in failed facist superstates, but not in "liberal" "progressive" San Francisco.
Posted by: anonarch at September 20, 2007 7:35 PM
Cynics are useless to progress.
Yeah for the City Park design!
Posted by: Jamie at September 20, 2007 8:43 PM
I would not have have a problem with all office. Few are going to be driving into SF to work in a tower in this location with no parking and um a transit center below (it would help if we had a transit center with a train though)
Seems to me that meets our regional goals as the Bay Area needs to be strategic with placement of both office space as much as it does with housing
To the point about housing trickle down doesn;t seem to total jive with reality to me. SF is a very small part of the Bay Area. There is a ton of reverse commuting going on now from SF. IF these people are driving out of their 1:1 parking it doesn't really meet our regional goals
Anyone know the status of the other supertalls that are to be built next to the terminal? These could be residential
Posted by: zig at September 20, 2007 10:03 PM
Gdog wrote: "Certainly *some* local people would buy there. And even if out-of-towners buy up all of these proposed condos, what's to keep them from buying elsewhere in SF if the condos don't get built?"
I'll tell you exactly why, and it's quite simple -- because the kind of units produced in such a tower are an essentially singular unique "housing" product that does not exist (luxe units 1,000' feet up in the air) and attracts buyers solely because it exists. These buyers from Hong Kong, London, New York, Dubai, and yes, even Palo Alto, are not otherwise looking to buy homes in Pac Heights or condos in Cole Valley or TICs in the Mission. They are buying trophy vacation pied-a-terres because the product is being created for them. And if it didn't exist, they'd find something else to do with their piles of money, like buy up another unit in Aspen or Paris or New York or St Tropez, or wherever the Ritz or St Regis is opening its next "full-service residence" building. You could argue that a more generic high-end housing product in a lower scale building in a less dramatic location and less high-profile building would actually attract more "real residents" and could have some marginal trickle-down effect, but it is contrary to the evidence to suggest that any "housing" units created in such a building would be more than 50% real residents. The Census, which tracks this kind of thing, shows that even in the existing lower-scale housing in the Finanical District and Rincon Hill area that between 15-20% of all that housing is not primary residences. Now imagine how that figure changes with a building like the Transit Tower and prices that eclipse anything seen yet. The majority of the people who would actually live there would be the residents of the 15% required below-market-rate units in building. Hooray, housing for 60 people! How wonderfully transit-oriented!
Posted by: sebastian at September 20, 2007 11:35 PM
"Cynics are useless to progress.
Yeah for the City Park design"
Parks, fountains, trophy terminals and signature high rise towers are great indeed, but how does this address the problems talked about above? Some future mayor can go and stand in front of this and say he/she "fixed" the transit problems? I don't think one should be called anti-progress or a cynic if you bring up some of the continuing problems overtaking San Francisco that are not being responsibly addressed by planners, government leaders, or even designers and architects.
Posted by: anon at September 21, 2007 4:11 AM
Fixing society's ills is up to all of us ... not the guy/gal elected to represent the City to the world and to make sure the basics are running the way they our laws dictate they should. Challenge yourself to pick up a piece of litter from the street every day .... one little change at a time, ya know? As my buddy Howard Dean said, "You have the power."
Posted by: Jamie at September 21, 2007 6:53 AM
I think the question is should this be the #1 priority of the city? One would think the "world class" terminal would be built after we had a "world class" transit system.
Posted by: becket at September 21, 2007 8:22 AM
I think it's sad that, in the end, this was not a design competition at all. Hines won because they bid twice the amount the others did for the tower lot. San Francisco should be ashamed.
Posted by: rg at September 21, 2007 10:36 AM
These should eb the priorities for the transbay terminal IMHO
Priority #1: Cut back on vomit, shit and piss
Priority #2: Put the vagrants on the Caltrain to LA. Maybe we can make a swap with Mexico for some hard working illegal immigrants. We will give you two homeless wnos for every hard worker
Priority #3: Work on getting a BART system that is actually usable for the people who live in the city, not just the Burbs
Priority #4: Drug testing for bus drivers
Priority # 5: Actually charge people who use public transit
Priority #6: Dress Code for public transit: Pants must actually cover your behind
Priority #7: Make English the official language of MUNI
Priority #8: Build a nice building
Posted by: jummy at September 21, 2007 10:57 AM
"15% required below-market-rate units in building" There is no way these would be in the building. All that housing going up near the 6th street ramp that looks sort of like a high density project in Sacramento is the BMR housing for a lot of the current high rises as far as I am aware
Posted by: zig at September 21, 2007 12:56 PM
becket-IN an era where the Feds pay for little how would you propose that our little city pay for world class transit? We aren't getting subways. Bring up congestion pricing and BRT and people sream bloody murder since cars rule and we don't have good transit (the catch 22)
SF is in a sort of tough spot
Posted by: zig at September 21, 2007 12:59 PM
"scream bloody murder"
Posted by: zig at September 21, 2007 1:01 PM
Maybe we can go back to some SocketSite commenter's idea to set up casinos on Treasure Island .... it could work. :) Happy Weekend y'all.
Posted by: Jamie at September 21, 2007 3:11 PM
Transit problems aside, the Pelli-Hines project is pretty damn horrendous, with its shopping mall interior and ridiculous park design above, unconvincingly festooned with a dumbed-down symmetrical version of Gaudi's fantastic Parc Guell in Barcelona, perched 70 feet above the street over that simplistic undulating facade -- throw in the cheesy rings of palm trees running down the park's middle, then top it off with an uninspired tower, and basically you've got bad architecture plain and simple! Once again, SF gets the shaft when it comes to architectural design.
Posted by: citicritter at September 22, 2007 11:03 AM
The current fad of palm trees being used to cover the sins of bad designs reaches a zenith with this project. The park on the roof will be a bizarre space if built. WHY A PARK? Why can't we let a city be a city? Would they put a shoppoing mall transit station with Vegas style landscaping on a roof park in London or N.Y.C.? What could have been a project that would have been the envy of other cities around the world will end up being a poster child of bad planning and design. If it must be a park on the roof, you may want to look up millenniumpark.gov to see an urban landscape that can actually be used. Will there be any changes to this design, or are we stuck with it now?
Posted by: anontransitlover at September 22, 2007 7:09 PM
The civic spaces are a huge part of what makes this plan work. My prediction is that the landscaping all around will end up being changed. Palms are currently fashionable, but they are expensive and high maintenance and do little for the environment while other trees would actively filter the air in a significant way. The good thing is that in any decent park space is relatively easy to modify the landscaping to adjust for changing methods and tastes.
Posted by: Mole Man at September 22, 2007 7:54 PM
It's exactly the unimaginative and unconvincing "civic spaces" that make this plan NOT work. The problems go beyond vegetation, to the heart of this design. A shopping mall interior and token 'park in the air' simply aren't strong concepts to begin with. The comment above about Millenium Park in Chicago is right on -- now THAT is a civic space.
Perhaps if someone like Rem Koolhaas were included in the short list of architects, we might actually see some interesting thinking regarding the design problem at hand.
As it stands, with the three schemes presented, SOM's design was far more sophisticated than the other two -- it's pretty clear the developer's money won the day though, not design...which was likely the plan all along.
Posted by: citicritter at September 23, 2007 8:04 PM
The SOM design was far superior really had an urban trainsstation design. Pelli's looks like a tacky suburban mall. they really blew a once in a Century opurtunity.
Posted by: Robert at September 26, 2007 9:09 PM