June 2, 2011

A Bit Of Color On (And For) Salesforce's Campus In Mission Bay

Salesforce Mission Bay Rendering

From John King with respect to Legorreta and Legoretta’s colorful vision for Salesforce's 14-acre campus to be in Mission Bay:

The scheme that’s evolved has a wider range of colors and window patterns than the firm’s norm, and most building’s would come wrapped in stone or terra cotta rather than stucco. They’d also include brash twists – a corner fractured by stepped-back terraces here, a stone-clad canopy perched on a 90-foot-high column there. A stack of meeting rooms at the southwest corner of the campus is wrapped in a mesh-like purple skin.
At least three of the 14 acres would be publicly accessible at all hours, centered on a broad plaza leading from Third Street to a planned bayside neighborhood park. The office buildings along Third Street would include shops, a child care center and restaurants.

And the key concept, an open campus that embraces the evolving neighborhood.

Salesforce Mission Bay Rendering: Plaza

Salesforce plans a colorful jolt for Mission Bay [SFGate]
Designs For Salesforce's Global Headquarters Complex in Mission Bay [SocketSite]
Salesforce.com Acquires 14 Mission Bay Acres To Build 2 Million Feet [SocketSite]
Mission Bay Neighborhood Block And Construction Watch [SocketSite]

First Published: June 2, 2011 9:45 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Legoretta’s a one trick starchitect. Every one of his building has the same look and feeling, this and all his buildings will be so dated in a few years. Where is the feeling of place, how does it tie itself and blend with the context of space? A building can still be unique and feel like it belongs.

Posted by: PHATAL at June 2, 2011 10:10 AM

I kind of like it.

Posted by: kthnxybe at June 2, 2011 10:17 AM

This is the kind of design that would get you thrown out of architecture school. It looks like a cheap amusement park.

Posted by: LD at June 2, 2011 10:18 AM

Why can't Benioff hire a good Architect?

Posted by: Zefabes at June 2, 2011 10:24 AM

Now HERE'S a site for the Walt Disney Museum. First glance, I'm generally liking altho a little more restraint could make this lively, interesting and upbeat confection more enduring and minimize the possible risk of it being silly, seasonal, quickly dated and even distracting. The purple smokestacks/camoflaged cell towers altogether undermine the assemblage and are ominous, weird & annoying and need to be removed. The last thing the complex needs are towers calling even more attention to an already look-at-me, we're-on-the-map corporate statement. IMO

Posted by: Invented at June 2, 2011 10:25 AM

I'm sorry, but the hot pink really has to go. Otherwise I agree that this is a generally positive spicing up of Mission Bay.

Posted by: Mike Sullivan at June 2, 2011 10:37 AM

Another boxy me-too design that won't stand out from anything. The lime green, orange, purple, and the egregious magenta are regrettable colors that will not stand the test of time. SalesForce's design tastes certainly look to be driven by linear thinkers. Please hire some creative thinkers to rectify the design before it becomes a neighborhood eye sore.

Posted by: RySF at June 2, 2011 10:42 AM

"Campuses" belong in the Silly-con Valley. Give us some damn proper office buildings.

Posted by: MAB at June 2, 2011 10:52 AM

Finally. A plan to open up a street that ends with a view of the water. Just about every street along the central waterfront ends with a view of a dilapidated building blocking the view of the bay.

Posted by: jose at June 2, 2011 11:12 AM

Leaving the colors alone for a moment, this campus reminds me at first glance of Levi Plaza at the foot of Telegraph Hill, and would be a great addition to the neighborhood.

Although the article notes that "most building’s would come wrapped in stone or terra cotta rather than stucco", you aren't going to get those bright colors in any natural stone or terra cotta. For those carnival colors you will need paint. Paint can be repainted to satisfy changing tastes, so I wouldn't worry too much about it.

It is nice to see Legorreta and Legoretta exploring beyond "Sangre de Toro" stone, "Sangre de Pichon" stone, and some of the other materials in their typically limited palette.

Posted by: redseca2 at June 2, 2011 11:14 AM

Like, double like, triple like. Some much-needed color and uniqueness of place.

Great, great stuff.

Posted by: anon at June 2, 2011 11:20 AM

But how will it look in fifteen years?

Posted by: OP at June 2, 2011 11:39 AM

noearch?

Posted by: asiagoSF at June 2, 2011 12:02 PM

I kind of like the magenta towers. They're sort of like minarets for a tolerant, open, and reformed mosque.

The whole complex is reminiscent of 1930s era Eurocore industrial vernacular, especially that taller brick colored building.

Overall I like it especially the open campus and public space aspect. That was probably mandated by the city to prevent this campus from becoming an obstacle to pedestrians.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at June 2, 2011 12:34 PM

this belongs in SoCal, not up here... and is already dated looking

Posted by: Mimi at June 2, 2011 1:05 PM

@Mimi - definitely! More bay windows! More stucco! Maybe just make the thing look like a giant Victorian!?! We need this to look like SF!!!!!!

Posted by: anon at June 2, 2011 1:18 PM

O

O

Just needed to see something with a curve after looking at that.

Posted by: Delancey at June 2, 2011 2:08 PM

Bravo! I'm delighted to see Legorreta's designs and think that they would make a great addition to a city that is typically among the dullest in the world.

Whenever I'm in Mexico City, I stay at the Camino Real simply out of admiration for Legorreta's design which, along with Lance Wyman's iconography, constitute one of the most interesting twists in modernism I've seen to date. Those buildings are from 1968 and have a fantastic sense of place.

Yes, Legorreta got a bit tired with the Camino Real work, but I think that this has really moved things along nicely.

I'd love to see commissions in the city start taking some risks. Pity this will be subject to review by those who consider the existing parking lots historical treasures. Or those who consider Noe Valley "nice."

Posted by: embarcadero at June 2, 2011 2:31 PM

Owwwww! My eyes!!

Posted by: Snark17 at June 2, 2011 2:58 PM

San Francisco is finally catching up to San Jose!

(ie. the Tech & Childrens Discovery Museum)

Posted by: James at June 2, 2011 3:38 PM

Hey dude, let's go hang out in the office park plaza. Right on!!!

Posted by: sf at June 2, 2011 4:21 PM

No campuses in SF, no office park plazas as these ideas would never, ever work in a city as cool and sophisticated as San Francisco. And somber colors only, please, magenta might work in the trailer park, but not in EssEfff.

After all, Levi's Plaza is so hideous and unpleasant, people can't stand to be there. Maybe if they painted it gray, added parking where the grass is and put in bay windows…

Posted by: embarcadero at June 2, 2011 4:29 PM

My first thought was that it looked like the UCSF community center. Then I saw that the architect is the same on both pieces.

At UCSF, the design works because it breaks up the mostly homogenous look of the surrounding buildings, indicating that it's something different. (i.e. not a research building). Having the entire campus like that would make me feel like I was trapped in a Fisher Price wonderland.

Posted by: rr at June 2, 2011 5:02 PM

Question: you have 14 acres of prime Californian waterfront realty near the heart if a culturally rich, vibrant city. what do you do?

i'm thinking... purple mesh clad meeting rooms & brash terra-cotta office buildings filled with computer servers. no wait... that's a horrible idea!! this was dated circa 1980, and doesn't look any better now. UCSF mission bay is already dated, there's noone there at night.. so much for "neighborhood". Disney museum was smart to choose the presidio, why doesn't salesforce restore the dilapidated piers along embarcadero with cafe storefronts?

Posted by: darren at June 2, 2011 8:59 PM

^These buildings aren't going to be filled with "servers" - these buildings are for their people, not their infrastructure.

Posted by: anon at June 2, 2011 9:42 PM

I agree with PHATAL that Legoretta is a one-trick pony - and it isn't even his own trick. He is just a follower/imitator of Barragan.

Posted by: jlasf at June 3, 2011 1:02 AM

Looks like Miami
Looks like SoCal or New York
Socket Site insults

Posted by: Kurt Brown at June 3, 2011 8:22 AM

"there's noone there at night.. so much for "neighborhood" "

Mission Bay (south of the channel) is maybe half built, with the vast majority of the residential yet to come. Can we at least let it get semi-close to completion before deeming it a failure?

Posted by: Turin at June 3, 2011 9:14 AM

If Larry buys Dodie's house, let us hope he does not hire this architect. The neighbors would not be amused.

On the other hand, in this location, perhaps brights colors will bring happiness to some people.

When I first visited San Francisco, many decades ago as a kid, I was told that San Francisco was a tan colored city, much as Boston and New York and Philadelphia and Washington were grey colored. From the top of Twin Peaks, Telegraph Hill and Pacific Heights, it then was true.

This new campus will change the view of colors from the air, as the skyscrapers of downtown have changed the tan to grey. But San Francisco will always have some tan sections. Note the color of Dodie's house.

What would Herb Caen have said about this color scheme?
What does Nolte say?

Posted by: conifer at June 3, 2011 9:47 AM

It seems to me that as a corporate campus there will be little active public use of the space during off hours regardless of building architecture or bright colors until the area begins to see its growing population staying local to explore. UCSF's main open plaza has small eateries and a farmers market but nothing of attraction in later hours, and the commercial spaces at Strata remain vacant, and as such the only nightime presence of people are joggers and dog walkers.

As a corporate and science (and soon Hospital) dominated area of square boxes of varying glass wall designs there is really very little community vibe i expect to come out of Mission Bay. And since when has a community ever been created solely by Architecture? Architecture is great for Scale, Sensibility, History, and Mood, but new buildings generate no history and without people wanting to claim the space in and around the buildings, grand architecture becomes more about personal expression. It may be outside their plans or wants but if they want to open up their campus it seems they will need to design in some spaces for leasing opportunities that welcome passive time and unfortunately that does not seem to fit in well with productivity. Therefore all that is left is emulating corporate campuses such as Google or Nike, and let the calling card be creating inviting spaces that lend themselves to a workforce that lingers after work hours and a wandering community.

Posted by: Rob at June 3, 2011 11:32 AM

Rob - Perhaps increasing the mixed use of the parcel would help make it less dead after-hours. I see what looks like street level retail in the top rendering facing the street (3rd?) but that might end up being just lunch spots for the hungry workers. An interesting complementary use might be for nightlife venues. Nightclubs don't mix will with residential. But since they really don't get loud until after 9pm or so there's not much of a conflict with the office uses.

Even without truly "activating" the space I'm glad that the site is porous enough to allow pedestrian cut-throughs. Too many suburban corporate campuses (and even just shopping malls) present a huge obstacle for people to walk around.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at June 3, 2011 12:57 PM

Milkshake,

I think a mixed use would go a long way, even if just eateries that might serve the labor force as well as residents and greater crowds on weekends, if only to bring people into the area and then allow them to walk around. A night club i don't think would mix well, but something lower key might do well, to invite residents of Radiance, Strata, or UCSF dorms to head up to more than dogpatch assuming they felt like staying in the area at night. It may wind up with a Santana Row like feel but your are right at least it does seem to invite a walking crowd in without a sense of putting them into a maze.

Posted by: Rob at June 3, 2011 2:34 PM

I don't understand the animosity toward Santana Row, I think it works as mixed use. I've never understood the complaints about it, perhaps someone can provide a link to an insightful critique.

I understand that the feel is a bit "forced" due to the crass commercialism, but other than that I can't think of another project in the Bay Area that mixes commercial, retail and residential anywhere near as well. If this project (the salesforce campus) were anywhere near as mixed use as Santana Row (say, nixing the department-type stores), it'd be a great improvement.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at June 3, 2011 3:31 PM

Any and all criticism of the public's future willingness to use the public spaces during weekends and off hours seem pretty premature to me. The bayside parkland hasn't been reclaimed/built yet. Once there is a bayside park and promenade attached to a plaza people will almost certainly use it.

Posted by: [anon.ed] at June 3, 2011 3:40 PM

The open and crossable campus is good, but lets keep our expectations in check. The Levi plaza is dead on weekends--no reason to be there except to pass through on your way to/from the Filbert steps. (if Levi Plaza has a reason to be there on a weekend I'd love to hear about it--haven't been there in a while)

Comparisons with Santana Row are ludicrous--there is ZERO residential in the salesforce campus mix. Residential a few blocks away does not count for a Santana Row comparison.

This is an above average office park with too many right angles. Don't praise it for what it is not, and don't damn it for what is. Mission Bay planning didn't integrate residential/commerical/retail sufficiently tightly to create a neighborhood feel. Instead we have segregated block-level uses mandating long dull walks to transit between them.

Posted by: Delancey at June 3, 2011 3:47 PM

Despite being basically a mega strip mall with residential over retail surrounded by a huge parking lot, I give Satanic Row a little slack for at least trying given its suburban context. Pedestrian porosity is pretty decent from all directions except one and that isn't even Santana Row's fault: the biggest offender to pedestrian flow in that area is the new "Villa Centre" subdivision directly to the east. You'd think that the Villa Centre developers would have at least provided a single pedestrian path for their residents to reach SR but no, all you get is a concrete wall and a walk 6X longer than necessary. Might as well drive even though you're a stone's throw from SR and I'm sure that plenty do so.

One nit about SR: sparse bike parking. Auto parking is all over the place, even some spots right on the main drag. But just try to even locate the official bike parking. That would not have happened if the "streets" within SR were operated by the city rather than the mall owners.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at June 3, 2011 4:21 PM

And the infantilization of the world continues.

Everything must be "modern;" even if that means making it look like a Playskool plastic portable park. What is it people are supposed to do there? Ride little, plastic two-wheeled cars that go, "toot! toot!" Eat bright pretend food?

Three of fourteen acres open to the pubic, and most of them will be a thin slice along the waterfront - guaranteed to be dangerous and empty at night. Because small businesses, the interesting shops that aren't everywhere else like Santana Row, are failing at increasing rates because residents don't patronize them.

What stores will be there? Maybe chain restaurants and cheap trinket stores. You know like the kind that are in the creepy part of Venice, CA...

Why does modern get confused with ugly and silly?

Posted by: MCM at June 3, 2011 9:44 PM

This won't be anything like Venice Beach (though I don't think Venice is creepy at all),

The public plaza will be filled with office workers, as well as people from the new UCSF medical center across Third Street. Hopefully, there will be a nice cafe for coffee breaks and good restaurant or two to feed them. At night, the public plaza will likely be pretty empty. It can get cold and windy next to the bay.

Posted by: Dan at June 3, 2011 10:30 PM

Dan,

"cold and windy"? Excellent observation. To what extent do architects account for local weather conditions when designing plazas? Grand visions should recognize that most of us are mere mortals and need a windbreak or enclosed space in this windy city.

Posted by: 1LMcubeserf at June 4, 2011 7:48 AM

The same architecture firm, in designing the UCSF Mission Bay Community Center nearby, did not account adequately for the wind in designing the rooftop swimming pool. The cold wind deters some from using the rooftop pool.

Posted by: Dan at June 4, 2011 12:21 PM

The principal of Legorreta and Legoretta, Ricardo Legorreta, died earlier this year. From Christopher Hawthorne, the Los Angeles Times' architecture critic's obituary, Ricardo Legorreta dies at 80; Mexican modernist architect. Datelined January 08, 2012:

Ricardo Legorreta, the architect who introduced Mexican modernism to a global audience and who brought his crisp, brightly colored aesthetic to downtown Los Angeles with a controversial 1993 redesign of Pershing Square, has died. He was 80…In the early 1990s, as he was becoming the face of Mexican architecture abroad, Legorreta's office took over the redesign of Pershing Square in downtown Los Angeles. Jurors in an earlier open competition had chosen a design by the firm SITE Environmental Design, but it never got off the drawing board. A second, private competition was held, and Legorreta won.

And with respect to the comments above about the colors chosen for the buildings on the ill-fated salesforce campus:

As his fame and commissions grew, so did opposition to the sharp colors that had become his trademark. In the mid-1980s, Legorreta was hired by the Irvine Co. to design a $90-million shopping center in Tustin. His design featured purple walls, but complaints from residents and the Tustin mayor prompted the developer to repaint them in a more conservative reddish-brown shade.

Perhaps it was a hidden blessing that the campus won't be built, so that the design his firm came up with won't be sullied after his death, causing rotation in the grave and so on.

Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at March 25, 2012 11:18 PM

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