The Infinity
“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]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by glasswithclass

    I don’t have a problem with glass. Although, I think we can get more creative, and that an all glass tower should be the exception, and not the rule. I love One Rincon, Millennium is stunning, and Infinity turned out intriguing from the ground to the sky. Yes, most people hated TransAmerica, and the complainers are back bitching about these new towers which are rising proudly. John King is no more an architecture critic than Ronald McDonald is a chef.

  2. Posted by anony

    The slideshow was nicely done.
    I found comical that even John King quoted One Rincon: “has been liken to the world’s tallest air purifier”.
    Funny stuff!

  3. Posted by anonandon

    And you all think people on this site are too negative about 1RinconHill, just check out the comments on SFGATE. Most of their comments are not against new towers, but are instead begging that they have better design.
    But most seem to really hate One Rincon with a passion beyond which I have read here in the past.

  4. Posted by onerincon

    I think One Rincon is just such a dominant icon in the sky it will take some getting used to, which I think is a good thing in such a conservative city. If the NIMBYs loved it then you know it would be unoriginal, bland, ugly, and boring as sin.

  5. Posted by nativeson

    I think ORH stirs so many passions because of its location. Sure, it’s design ain’t the prettiest thing any of us have ever seen, but if it was placed where the Infinity or Millenium is placed, it wouldn’t be noticed, for better or worse. At the same time, if the Infinity or Millenium or any building, for that matter, were placed where ORH is, I think we’d see the same vitriol. Yes, I think for such a prominent location, the building should have been more striking. But at the same time, if it were very distinct and creative in design, I truly doubt that the naysayers would be appeased. In this situation, it really is location, location, location.

  6. Posted by citicritter

    “most people hated the TransAmaerica, and the complainers are back bitching about these new towers rising proudly”?! What? These towers are proud of their inexplicable craptastic banality, which would barely fly in Atlanta or Houston these days? There is way way better contemporary tower design happening in many other cities worldwide besides SF.
    1 Rincon Hill, Infinity, Millenium and the Intercontinental are pure mediocrity — they are in no way comparable to TransAmerica, an architectural tour de force. And 1 Rincon is certainly not just a problem of location. These new SF buildings are simply not good architecture, and will never be recognized as such by any architectural history or theory experts, I guarantee. Meanwhile, steaming beige piles like SOMA Grand and all the condo crap near the ballpark (sadly even more lacking in architectural merit) are filling in the remaining gaps in SF’s urban fabric.

  7. Posted by Julia

    “Meanwhile, steaming beige piles like SOMA Grand and all the condo crap near the ballpark (sadly even more lacking in architectural merit) are filling in the remaining gaps in SF’s urban fabric.”
    I could not agree more with Citicritter. Huge cities like Los Angeles and Chicago can hide bad buildings within their vast context, but a small city like San Francisco really forces you to take notice of any new tower added to the skyline. Couldn’t we at least demand that the new towers be as beautiful and interesting as the city itself? I think most people are not against new towers, but would just like to see something more creative and attractive than the dated One Rincon or Soma “Grand”.

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