“To be sure, glass-clad buildings are nothing new in San Francisco. The Hallidie Building, built at 130 Sutter St. in 1917, wears one of the world’s first glass “curtain walls,” in which pre-assembled panels are hung into place on a building’s structural form.
But as glass-and-steel high-rises recast the skyline after World War II, overtly modern buildings sparked a backlash. The shift culminated in 1985’s Downtown Plan, which decreed that new buildings should “contribute to the visual unity of the city.” Another rule: “Highly reflective materials, particularly mirrored or highly reflective glass, should not be used.”
The planning director at the time: Dean Macris. The planning director today: Macris, who returned to the post in 2004.
While Macris now champions contemporary design, he and Nikitas say the 1985 edict against glossy glass still applies. But the sheer number of sheer towers is causing alarm, as is the fact that the first batch hasn’t lived up to planner expectations: “I can’t say we’ve said, ‘Aha, there’s the perfect solution,’ ” Macris acknowledged.”
∙ Newest towers will give S.F. skyline a touch of glass [SFGate]
∙ Testing tries to ensure that glass structures don’t court disaster [SFGate]