March 24, 2008
JustQuotes: The People (And Politics) Behind Buildings And Design
ADCO is proposing a 38-story, elliptical-shaped glass building with five levels of underground parking. Market-rate condominiums would be built on top of the tennis courts and next door to a residence for seniors. The street that gently slopes downward to the Japantown malls would also undergo major reconstruction, including new condominiums by owner 3D Investments.
At the current height, the 1481 Post Street project would be the tallest building in the neighborhood, an issue of concern to neighborhood residents. “The height of your building will set the tone for the rest of Post Street going west,” said Sandy Mori, president of the Japantown Task Force, referring to proposals by 3D Investments. “Right now [3D Investments’] highest building is as tall as Hotel Kabuki, which is reasonable in my personal opinion.”
[ADCO Group representative Linda Corso] indicated a willingness to modify the design of the building and reduce the height to move the project forward, perhaps due to public pressure. “We’re going to take all the input from tonight back to our design team and get back to you hopefully in a month or so,” Corso said.
The housing nonprofit that owns and operates the 26-story high-rise next door to the proposed ADCO project has hired a political consultant and sent out a mailing opposing the glass building. They received 600 responses by mail out of 7,000 pieces delivered.
And our reader's response (with which we quite agree):
Please let this SOM building rise up; it's not going to work as a short cylinder. This is a perfectly-scaled building.
∙ J-Town Concerned About High-Rise Plans [AsianWeek]
∙ The Official Cathedral Hill Tower (1481 Post Street) Website [SocketSite]
First Published: March 24, 2008 12:56 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
Asians and Whites ruining it for everybody.
Posted by: blah at March 24, 2008 1:34 PM
Sandy Mori has done such a superb job with Japantown already her opinions should always be adhered to! Bravo, more stucco!!!!
Posted by: moriless at March 24, 2008 1:37 PM
38 stories is moreo like it. Lets think big.
I don't understnad why we would consider anything shorter.
In regards to the 26-story high-rise next door, that may be one of the ugliest buildings in San Francisco. Anything we can do to hide it and de-emphasize it would be great!
Posted by: Spencer at March 24, 2008 1:41 PM
This is all about the homeowners worried about the new building ruining their property values since the new building will block some of their views.
Posted by: MarkSFCA at March 24, 2008 1:42 PM
right now, exactly half of the buildings in the area are taller than the neighborhood average. this building would throw everything out of whack.
Posted by: marina girl at March 24, 2008 1:48 PM
I received the mailer from those NIMBY jerks from The Sequoias and I wanted to scream. They have the ugliest, most-neighborhood-destroying building around. I presents nothing other than blast walls and loading docks for six entire street blocks (2 each on Geary and Post, and one each on Laguna and Gough). In addition it is a superblock, without any passage for pedestrians on Octavia. And, did I mention that it's crazy ugly?
Posted by: Jeffrey W. Baker at March 24, 2008 1:49 PM
So the 'neighbors' want it reduced by more than 1/2, to the size of Kabuki hotel, which is about 14 floors. I hope the developers get rid of all of the amenities and turn the ground floor into a large garage entrance with no pedestrian access. Spite can be fun!!
Posted by: sf at March 24, 2008 1:56 PM
Beyond the call for a ground floor parking garage from one of this project developer's supporters, the real question is how to best repair an urban fabric that was damaged through an insensitive urban renewal fourty years ago. Is the answer to build new buildings that do not relate in scale to their neighbors? I doubt it.
Posted by: flaneur at March 24, 2008 2:41 PM
Why does "relate" in San Francisco always have to mean an EXACT reference... Same height, same shape, same color, same everything.
In fact, if the vernacular of Cathedral Hill was "a bunch of stupid ass towers on a hill" then this building would fit right in.
Posted by: Bob at March 24, 2008 4:47 PM
Stupid NIMBYs in this town ALWAYS win. Name ONE instance where the progressives won over the NIMBYs?? Doesn't really seem like we live in a city of fair balance, it's all tilted over to one side, giving us ugly architecture.
Posted by: nequidnemis at March 24, 2008 5:02 PM
I am in total agreement with Jeffrey W. Baker as to the blight inflicted on the neighborhood by the Sequoias. I am a huge walker but I will go out of my way not to have to walk in front of the concrete wall that says anything but San Francisco.
Hopefully the builders of the new tower will try to correct the damage done by the insensitive design of the Sequoias. And something attractive on the skyline might lessen the pain of looking at those two examples of Brutalism.
Posted by: TCatch at March 24, 2008 5:08 PM
I challenge anyone to stand at the base of the 280' tall Sequoias on Post Street, look up, and honestly assert that a building 45 percent taller will fit. Also, regrettably, the actual reinforced concrete building will not be as ethereal as the translucent plexiglass model.
Posted by: flaneur at March 24, 2008 5:28 PM
It will be just fine if it is designed RIGHT. [Removed by Editor] [NIMBYs] think that anything TALL is BAD, without any critical thinking as to why that is not always true (and actually rarely is true) and at the same time, will not protest and raise hell if some hideous squatter low rise building such as some of the stuff on Mission Bay in the China Basin area. Their brains once again rely on the two talking points they can remember: Tall Bad, Short Good. I'm sure these NIMBYs will sleep well at night knowing that their selfish efforts of squishing a building will rob the neighbors and citizens at large of the amenities and affordable housing units we COULD have had if the building were taller. See, when the Sierra Club is against you, you are kind of starting to look really foolish.
[Editor's Note: Let's try to attack the argument rather than the person.]
Posted by: nequidnemis at March 24, 2008 5:36 PM
Some of you may know me by my other name on skyscraperpage.com, nequidnemis
Posted by: flaneur at March 24, 2008 5:57 PM
i live close by and would welcome a 38 story tower. i think it would add very much to the neighborhood.
Posted by: Spencer at March 24, 2008 6:24 PM
The only thing worse than NIMBY activists is retired NIMBY activists. Talk about having nothing better to do. The truth of the matter is, the old folks won't ever see any construction project next door as a good idea, and they have nothing but time to fight it, and probably nothing else more important in their otherwise comfortable lives.
I don't see the argument of (the tall design not) matching the supposed scale of the neighborhood. Besides Our Lady of Maytag, that area is full of fairly large, anonymous, and a few rather unattractive buildings. A fairly narrow footprint and tall profile would provide a greatly needed topographical relief to the monotony. I am skeptical of the translucency of the mockup. That is a very valid point and I think any overall planning approval should be based on detailed specifications of the facade.
That said I can think of at least one detailed rendering that gave an impression of far greater airiness and slenderness than what came out in reality.
Posted by: kaya at March 24, 2008 7:45 PM
It’s still simply a rendering, but we’ve added another perspective on the proposed tower to the end of the post above (in case you didn't catch it on the developer’s site or missed it when we first published it last year).
Posted by: SocketSite at March 24, 2008 8:00 PM
as a resident of "eichler laguna heights" /cleary court, i wholeheartedly support bringing in a signature building that brings cache to cathedral hill . . . a nice neighborhood cafe would be cool too.
Posted by: LagunaHeights at March 24, 2008 8:36 PM
Great addition, I am a big fan of the 'Death Star' a top the hill otherwise known as St. Mary's, and the proposed tower complements its.
Posted by: Observer at March 24, 2008 9:25 PM
The design is really a recycle of the design by the same architect for the Tyrol Tower, being built in Worgl Austria, and which can be seen at the URL below. To paraphrase Senator Clinton, "This is not a design that inspires, this is a design you can xerox."
Posted by: flaneur at March 24, 2008 9:43 PM
just chop it down by a third and end the discussion. its a good design but it not brilliant. theres nothing about it that "needs" to be 38 floors tall.
having a too tall ugly building next door isnt really relevant to buildng a "nicer" out of scale project. its a long shot to get built anytime soon anyway.
Posted by: louis at March 24, 2008 9:58 PM
flaneur has it right...ask all your friends in Paris how much they "love" the Tour Montparnasse.
Posted by: franco at March 24, 2008 10:26 PM
honestly, this reminds me of those beautiful buildings in barcelona.
Posted by: Spencer at March 25, 2008 8:55 AM
Perfect location for this and other towers. While they're at it the Japantown NIMBYers should take a look at there run down/under utilized property and be advocates for mid and high rise housing in the corridor between Gough and Fillmore.
Posted by: MH at March 25, 2008 8:56 AM
They need a building there that looks like a dryer, that way it would perfectly compliment Our Lady of the Perpetual Spin Cycle, then we could just refer to that neighborhood as "the laundry room".
Posted by: Rillion at March 25, 2008 10:35 AM
the only thing worse than NIMBYs who think "tall bad, small good" are slavish drooling simplistic architecture and condo foamers who just think "tall good."
I think Bob put it best, "if the vernacular of Cathedral Hill was 'a bunch of stupid ass towers on a hill' then this building would fit right in."
I'm sorry, but bad planning and architecture mistakes of the past (e.g. the Sequoias and pretty much everything on Cathedral Hill) does not justify the same mistakes today with a flashy modern veneer, which is all this proposal is. It's a Corbusian tower in the park, just without the actual green space. A two-story parking podium with a tower stuck on top does not suffice for good urbanism.
Posted by: city resident at March 25, 2008 1:29 PM
It's not a parking podium, it's underground, and this new building would include a much needed pedestrian passage from Post to Geary that hasn't existed in 30+ years.
Posted by: Jeffrey W. Baker at March 25, 2008 2:23 PM
Dont assume I dont support this project. I do 100%
The cure for the crappy earlier development of Cathedral hill is not permanent stasis. If the current state of CH is Le Corbusier, then this tower would be Corbusier infill.
Plus the parking is underground.
Build it - and build it as tall as planned. If people werent pushing the envelope in this city by planning taller, we would be more stuck in Herb Caenville than we are now.
Posted by: Bob at March 25, 2008 2:26 PM
I kind of like the Sequoias, actually. It just needs a few additional tall buildings so it doesn't stick out so much. The round shape of the proposed building is a nice addition to the area.
Posted by: snark at March 25, 2008 3:36 PM
The two stories at the bottom are for active uses - the parking is all underground. This is a great way to fill in the spot between the disasters on either side.
Posted by: Brutus at March 25, 2008 3:37 PM
Sorry guys, the Tour Montparnasse comparison just doesn't work. The Parisian skyscraper is 210m in a quartier inhabited by building an average of 26m. Not only that, but it was only approved to be 150m tall. They just went ahead and added the extra 60m on their own. Regardless, the building was a stupid idea to put anywhere besides La Defense.
To compare adding a little variation to a neighborhood with adding a behomoth is almost funny, except it's sad it seems there are so many of you. The design of the tower itself isn't super original, but it's pretty and it's simple and it's a lot less crap than what we usually get. Maybe it's somewhat of a xerox design, but in this town, I don't have the audacity to hope for (good quality) originality.
Posted by: kaya at March 25, 2008 3:49 PM
Posted by: flaneur at March 25, 2008 4:19 PM
kaya- clever Obama reference there!! High 5!
Posted by: sf at March 25, 2008 5:44 PM
Wow, it looks like SOM didn't even need to make a new plastic model for their Cathedral Hill presentation, as long as they had one left over from their Tyrol Tower presentation. While this off-the-shelf tower plan may look dramatic in a pastural setting, it is just going to look crowded when shoe-horned into a small space between another tower and a shoebox apartment building.
Posted by: Zach at March 26, 2008 9:23 AM
My suggestion - for those of you (like myself) who support more density and don't want to see NIMBYs direct all development in SF:
1. Type up your blog comment and send a copy to the Chair of the SF Planning Commission when this project goes in for entitlements.
2. Send a copy of your comments to the district Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi, Board President Aaron Peskin and Mayor Newsom
As much as I appreciate reading blog comments (which are very addicting, a fact documented in some academic analysis covered in the WSJ - http://online.wsj.com/public/article/SB120527756506928579-3wNdJRXhkpLqY4EDBt4j3ly1foo_20090312.html?mod=rss_free),
public written comments carry a LOT of weight among policy makers. At least that has been my experience with elected officials (and no, I don't work for the City and County of SF).
Posted by: ChinaNobDweller at March 26, 2008 12:54 PM
As a local who's been on the planning meeting for Japantown and some of the meetings for this abhomination, let me give some of the other side here.
First thing not noted here is the existing height limit. 1481 Post is asking for a waiver from zoning laws, which say that something more like 170 feet (to the best of my bad-with-numbers memory) is the height limit - The Sequoias has a waiver due to redevelopment. The 1481 Post project wants 400 feet and a waiver, and people are concerned that this will lead to the height limits being done away with entirely. Residents are concerned about parking and traffic - the developers have at least agreed to shift the parking garage entrances so that traffic won't be totally snarled, but due to SF's wacky ordinances ther still won't be "enough" parking for people who move into the building. And there's the question of the loss of the existing site, which contains a community-access swimming pool and some other facilities.
The developer's mouthpiece Corso also told me outright that "we were going to build something shorter but the city encouraged us to go higher". I don't know how true that is, but it's a great way of passing the buck and not responding to resident concerns.
And originally the developers tried to push the project through without any local feedback at all, and people had to kick and scream to get the project included in the Japantown redevelopment community oversight process. And only after that did they start making noise about adding features which would benefit the community.
The renderings are all cleverly angled to make it seem like this wouldn't actually be that bad - but when you actually go down there and look, you realize things like "Wow, that would totally block all the light in the area" and "That's on top of the hill, so it will look even taller than other buildings in the area with similar heights."
The 1481 Post folks have been playing nasty hardball with the residents, saying things like "Well, if you don't let us have the full height, we won't put in any community development", and refusing to consider just building fewer units. They say different things at different meetings, accuse the residents of being afraid of change, being selfish, blah blah. In short, they're being jerks, and Corso is a tactless mouthpiece who's put her foot in her mouth at least twice in front of a lot of cranky citizens.
And then there's the citizens. Sequoias aside, there's a lot of folks at the J-town Task Force meetings who remember "redevelopment" like a swear word, and who really don't like being pushed around by developers and told that their fought-for height and parking restrictions will be ignored. Other housing projects in the area, including the potential tower on top of the Japantown Mall, were received with enthusiasm at the planning meetings. Other developers' plans for projects haven't faced this kind of fierce opposition. The community wants more housing, and it isn't opposed to a reasonable amount of height. This is NOT what the community or the local zoning considers to be reasonable.
There's a lot more going on here than just height restrictions and cranky senior citizens. I love the area, and frankly, if the project goes through (ideally at more like 320 feet) I might be interested in buying. But I don't like being bullied and lied to and whitewashed and ignored.
Posted by: wheelchairgirl at April 6, 2008 10:05 PM
Just curious...has this building been scuttled or is it still in the works?
Posted by: jd at November 12, 2009 3:51 PM
Nice building. I drive by there all the time and think it'd fit in nicely. Besides, SF needs more residential buildings... you can't live in a city and expect that it will never grow or change, it will. That's just life in a city.
Posted by: Gregg at June 21, 2013 11:39 AM
I have lived in the Cathedral Hill/Japantown neighborhood for over 20 years and fully support the addition of another tall building for Cathedral Hill. Build 1481 Post Tower as the architects intend it to be built! SOMA should not be the only area where creativity and vitality is fostered. The area needs less subsidized housing where buyers of the new condominiums will support the numerous businesses and add a youthfulness to the area, an attitude not provided by the NIMBYism of the elder citizens at the Sequoias.
Posted by: Michael Shea at July 27, 2013 11:43 AM
Here you go anonanon, another chance to build some badly needed housing scuttled by NIMBY activists.
Posted by: NoeValleyJim at July 27, 2013 4:07 PM