April 26, 2012

An All-Star Architect's Design For An All Star Site At One Van Ness

One Van Ness Rendering

From John King with respect to the Richard Meier & Partners designed 34-story residential tower that’s on the boards to rise near the corner of Market and Van Ness, possibly replacing the squat building in which the All Star Café currently resides:

What's unusual here is the proposed tower's un-Meier surface and shape: a tall tapered cone wrapped in what now is mullion-free glass, broken only by two slits from base to sky that would emphasize the sleek height and make the glass "appear veil-like," Meier said in a phone interview. His signature white-metal panels would appear only at the base. There, glass gives way to three stories that are unmistakably modern, yet in scale with the best nearby buildings.
According to Meier, the soft slender form is a response to the triangular site wedged between Market and Oak streets. "It's a rare opportunity to have a building relaxed, but open on all sides," he said. "There's really space around it."

Tentatively dubbed "One Van Ness," King hints that the proposed 400-foot building should start weaving its way through Planning and the public by the end of the year.

One Van Ness Rendering

Richard Meier & Partners tower planned in S.F. [SFGate]

First Published: April 26, 2012 7:30 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Considering that corner's convergence of some of the most blandly hideous multistory office architecture in the city, why not throw in something that looks like a broken plastic light fixture from Ikea. We can even give it an appropriate Ikea-esque name: Marness, or Varket..

Posted by: Stucco_Sux at April 26, 2012 7:59 AM

I like it. It's certainly an improvement over the POS doughnut shop that's squatting there on the corner.

Although I dread what it will look like after it's been watered down by all the various SF gov. agencies.

Posted by: Fishchum at April 26, 2012 8:01 AM

I like it, and you know, I gotta say, there might not be a better site in the city to get an iconic new large building. The intersection of two of the city's main thoroughfares, at a major MUNI station, where there's currently an underutilized monstrosity of architecture (seriously, who EVER thought the All Star building was a good idea???)

Posted by: Jason at April 26, 2012 8:04 AM

Not bad. At least it is not yet another clone of a Mission Bay building, or yet another multi-story residential building that looks like a bland suburban office building.

Posted by: p3p at April 26, 2012 8:24 AM

In a word, brilliant.

This is a 21st century flatiron -- let's hope SF's fear of height -- doesn't force it be squat and ridiculous as it has done with many others. Don't truncate it. This is spot on.

Posted by: invented at April 26, 2012 8:27 AM

I love the building, but I expect strong opposition from the usual suspects decrying 'Manhattanization' and how the building is out of character with the neighborhood by allowing a 40 story building to cross Van Ness.

Bottom line, I would be truly shocked if this happened in my lifetime.

[Editor's Note: Keep in mind this parcel was officially upzoned to 400 feet back in 2008 (not that that would preclude any opposition).]

Posted by: badlydrawnbear at April 26, 2012 8:27 AM

Interesting location. And, its just a couple of blocks to the mid-market building where Twitter and Yammer will reside.

Posted by: Can't think of cool name at April 26, 2012 8:29 AM

Strikes me as odd to put a residential tower right at the intersection of the City's two major streets, as opposed to office space which would be used by far more people per day, but I like the building. I'm all for tall, tall towers near transit stops in residential neighborhoods. In commercial/office areas, even with some residences in the mix, I'd put the res towers a block or two away.

But that's just me.

Oh, one more thing. No dead space along the sidewalks!!! (can't quite tell from the photo and too busy right this minute to investigate the plans)

Posted by: BobN at April 26, 2012 8:53 AM

The design is tremendous. I love its exterior and its height. Unfortunately, this being San Francisco, where everything is designed and watered down by committee, it will probably end up looking like the surrounding pieces of sh*t. *sigh*

Posted by: calabrese68 at April 26, 2012 8:54 AM

the all star donut shop will remain -- so far see the chron article.

Posted by: guest at April 26, 2012 8:57 AM

Best proposal I've seen in recent memory. Don't F this up SF!

Posted by: gellan at April 26, 2012 9:00 AM

21st century flatiron?

More like 21st century Fox Plaza.

Will this increase the wind tunnel effect of other buldings in mid-Market?

If they are going to build this, it should have its own direct access to the subway station, so people who live there can avoid the filth, stolen goods sidewalk sale, shopping carts, and other lovely aspects of that corner.

Posted by: circa at April 26, 2012 9:06 AM

Gorgeous. Exactly what that area needs.

Unfortunately, I expect the planning commission to dumb this down significantly. Not enough bay windows, pillars, cartouches or homeless urinal crevices.

Posted by: kg at April 26, 2012 9:11 AM

I like it, very nice design and look to it. Hopefully it gets built. And see futurist, its possible to have tall modern buildings that don't inspire phallic jokes!

Posted by: Rillion at April 26, 2012 9:16 AM

A great tower that isn't an embarrassment to SF architecture. A few years ago there was also a proposal to tear down the car dealership across the street and build a similar in height tower - I wonder how that is coming along? This area really needs help and I agree is very embarrassing as the nexus of the city's two main thoroughfares, but that's the quirkiness of this city, much like the McDonald's that sits at the entrance to our grand park.

Posted by: sf at April 26, 2012 9:24 AM

I hope they are able to buy the Donut shop and tear it down.

Posted by: sf at April 26, 2012 9:27 AM

Look back at the renderings -- the donut shop REMAINS and the tower will be built behind it (not replace it)!! That really dampens the excitement of the whole project.

Posted by: Footie at April 26, 2012 9:30 AM

no matter how nice this is - and it's nice - i'll be vocally opposed to any project that doesn't include a retail wrap at grade. it's completely essential for the area, and absolutely nothing should be built there that doesn't include it - especially considering the lane entrance for the parking. no/insufficient retail component = unhelpful to the area.

Posted by: david m at April 26, 2012 9:32 AM

With Twitter HQ, Trinity Place, and the new apartment tower under construction at Market & 10th, the city is clearly interested in making Civic Center into a viable "midtown" district. I hope that means this tower gets approved in some form close to this gorgeous rendering.

Posted by: James at April 26, 2012 9:41 AM

Wow, that's gorgeous. Please let this get built!

Posted by: Turin at April 26, 2012 9:42 AM

Absolutely love this design, and hard to imagine a better location for this building. Agree with the "brilliant" and "don't F this up, San Francisco" comments above.

Posted by: Mike Sullivan at April 26, 2012 9:58 AM


Posted by: joh at April 26, 2012 10:09 AM

Love it.

Posted by: Snark17 at April 26, 2012 10:31 AM

will at least 50% of it be reserved for low income housing?

Posted by: wrath at April 26, 2012 10:58 AM


Posted by: lyqwyd at April 26, 2012 11:03 AM

Wow. Is that cool! I really hope this gets built.

Posted by: lurker at April 26, 2012 5:08 PM

Dear God: Please, please let this get built instead of that other fugly, green monster of a box.

Posted by: Ugh at April 26, 2012 5:36 PM

The tower would be a joke if the Donut Shop remains in front as proposed. The developer currently will not buy the property and included it in the tower as the Market-Octavia Plan intended. The shop owner is willing to sell. People should tell the Planning Department that this project would be an abomination if the Donut Shop is not included.

Posted by: Jim at April 26, 2012 6:07 PM

This is really a beautiful high-rise, the type of buidling this location needs since it will be fully visible from Twin Peaks Dolores Park etc (including my house) - the new Market Octavia height limits assures that the western side will never be blocked so a dynamic and scultural building is really improtant here (too bad Rincon isn't of this quality).
As much as I want this to be built there is one thing visible in one of the renderings on SFGate that shouldn't be built-it appears that there is a barrier across Oak Street-why? Does the developer propose privatizing a major street? Is there some kind of bridge to 25 Van Ness? I can understand that the parking entry will be on Oak Street and traffic coming from Van Ness should be restricted but this project can be done without blocking Oak Street.

Posted by: JC at April 26, 2012 6:22 PM

The donut shop also houses the elevator to the Muni Metro station (probably why that building was built in the first place) so somehow the builder will have to either keep the elevator in place and build a new building around it or build a new elevator to the station mezzanine. It would be great if an entire new entry (with stairs, escalators and elevator) to the underground were built as part of this project.

Posted by: JC at April 26, 2012 6:29 PM

Nice potential project....

add in mitigation measures for:

Title 24 and LEED silver
Bird Safe Bldgs

Maybe not so nice ...

Posted by: foo at April 27, 2012 8:09 AM

Beautiful. Doubt it would transform the street level unless they put some awesome retail/cafe? down there, but it would still just be a lovely building to grace our urban fabric, a la Gherkin in London.

Posted by: jenofla at April 27, 2012 8:23 AM

Does the Muni elevator in the donut shop mean that the city has some stake in the building? Maybe they could eminent-domain it, like for "accessibility improvements" or something.

Posted by: James at April 27, 2012 9:12 AM

Donut Shop must go. I'm not sure what compulsions or incentives the City can apply, but getting rid of the shop must be connected to this.

And yes, although expensive, a new Muni entrance/plaza might be exactly the right thing, given the increasing prominence of this location.

Posted by: curmudgeon at April 27, 2012 9:27 AM

Perhaps the donut store owner is holding out (reminds me of the storyline in 'Up.').

How about donut shop as part of the retail ground floor?

Posted by: sfjhawk at April 27, 2012 10:17 AM

I cannot think of a higher or better use for eminent domain than razing the donut shop and converting that space to a public park with Muni entrance in front of the masterpiece tower.

Posted by: observant neighbor at April 27, 2012 10:59 AM

It's beautiful. Build it!

Posted by: SFRomeo at April 27, 2012 6:52 PM

Nobody here has a sense of quirkiness? I think the donut shop or similar presnts "fabric" to an area. I hate to see all of SF to look like pictures in an architect text book.

Posted by: guest at April 28, 2012 8:53 AM

There's "fabric" and then there's just rags.

Posted by: futurist at April 28, 2012 1:16 PM

This seems like a very appropriate place for something bold and iconic. I can't imagine getting anything much better on that corner and I can imagine lots much worse options.

Posted by: NoeNeighbor at April 28, 2012 1:44 PM

Bold? Iconic?

Sort of reminds me of calimari dim sum, or a curling candy wrapper.

Being inside will be like living behind a scrim. Natural light, often muted by fog and clouds, will be dim and the views will be perpetually fuzzy. It may look OK, but once again, starchitecture at the expense of practicality.

Posted by: MM2 at April 28, 2012 3:13 PM

Then you have never been up close, around, or in a building by Richard Meier and Partners before.

Their work is stunning, richly detailed, spare, beautiful, bold and iconic.

All of those adjectives fit their work. This would be a great addition to San Francisco if it gets built.

Posted by: futurist at April 28, 2012 6:54 PM

This thread wins the SS award for the most frequent use of the word "donut" in all of SS history.

Posted by: Kurt Brown at May 6, 2012 1:11 PM

Really? I would have thought that honor would go to one of the threads about the dollar to donuts bet regarding Pacific Heights.

Posted by: Rillion at May 7, 2012 9:34 AM

Posted by: SocketSite at October 11, 2012 10:37 AM

The donut shop was built by Mayor Christopher.

Posted by: Jim at October 12, 2012 5:25 PM

Post a comment

(required - will be published)

(required - will not be published, sold, or shared)

(optional - your "Posted by" name will link to this URL)

Remember Me?

(you may use HTML tags for style)

Continue Perusing SocketSite:

« How One Rincon Could Really Become A Giant Ionic Breeze | HOME | Dogpatch Development Refined, Ready To Be Approved »