January 4, 2013

The 75 Howard Scoop: Tower Design And Proposed Public Park

75%20Howard%20Rendering.jpg

As we first reported last month, and for which we now have the renderings, the design for the proposed tower to replace the existing eight-story parking garage at 75 Howard Street is up to 31 stories and 350 feet, 150 more than for which it’s currently zoned, with 186 condos over a ground floor restaurant, café, and 175 underground parking spaces.

The project would also yield a new 5,000 square foot public park in the existing concrete triangle at the end of Howard Street, between Steuart and Embarcadero:

75%20Howard%20Plaza%20Rendering.jpg

As the concrete triangle, which is currently fenced, semi-recently appeared:

75%20Howard%20Plaza.jpg

The project sponsor is holding a community meeting to discuss their plans Thursday, January 10, 6pm at the Embarcadero YMCA. As always, we’ll keep you plugged-in.

Designs For A 350-Foot Tower To Rise At 75 Howard Street [SocketSite]

First Published: January 4, 2013 2:15 PM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

Love it. Build it now.

The only minor complaint is excessive parking, but since it's replacing a parking garage I can't complain too much.

Posted by: anon at January 4, 2013 2:36 PM

Someone at the Millenium - facing the loss of their view of the Bay Bridge - will launch a petition drive ala 8 Washington against high rises creating a wall on the waterfront.

I wish I was only being sarcastic.

Posted by: Michael E at January 4, 2013 2:39 PM

More height
less bulk
getting warmer
setting aside the height of 56 Leonard, can we be a *little* more daring & inventive?
http://www.archdaily.com/6268/56-leonard-street-new-york-herzog-de-meuron/

Posted by: Invented at January 4, 2013 2:51 PM

I'm far from an architect, but how about some setbacks? Looks pretty clunky.

Posted by: gellan at January 4, 2013 3:02 PM

This project would probably be the best location of any condo building in the area.

Posted by: Ivan at January 4, 2013 3:25 PM

meh to the design so far. I like the open space though.

Posted by: lyqwyd at January 4, 2013 3:30 PM

Daring and inventive are reserved for the extreme 1%. We're trying to keep condos in the affordable $2+ million range.

Design does nothing for me personally. I'm sure all the units have the typical open kitchen to the combined LR/DR complete with mid-last century furnishings...originals, I only assume.

Posted by: Mark at January 4, 2013 3:52 PM

I like the positive/negative space duality theme of that pair of sculptures in the mini park. If the artist who illustrated that rendering came up with that design on their own then they should consider branching out into public sculpture.

Posted by: The Milkshake of Despair at January 4, 2013 3:55 PM

Build it. yesterday.

Having said that, could they have produced a more chunky render?

Posted by: Joe at January 4, 2013 3:58 PM

MoD,

I agree that is what I noticed about the rendering as well.

Posted by: sparky*b at January 4, 2013 4:36 PM

Good call on the art, Milkshake. That would make a nice installation somewhere.

Condos and a park would enliven what's currently a dead little eddy along The Embarcadero. I like the design. Hope it makes it through to reality.

Posted by: Turin at January 4, 2013 4:39 PM

Yeah, definitely a fan of the sculptures, I hope they actually build those as depicted.

Posted by: lyqwyd at January 4, 2013 4:40 PM

It appears to fit into the skyline and surrounding buildings nicely making me wonder yet again what is the justification for the existing height limits.

We simply aren't going to get "daring and inventive" in a town where essentially one person who doesn't like a design can stop it. All that can ever get through the process will be "bland and inoffensive". If we don't like that, we must reduce the amount of public input, allowing structures we may not personally like get built in order that those we consider "daring" (and other people hate) can also.

Posted by: BT at January 4, 2013 5:36 PM

San francisco is losing its distinctiveness with all new buildings looking the same in the skyline. More boxes on boxes. This image shows a wall of boxes. Is that really what we want our city to look like? Millennium is the only building that has done anything distinctive in the last 5 years. Please think about the daylight city views when approving buildings. Do we really want to look like any other ordinary midwest city? That is where we are headed.

Posted by: Jane Antonacci at January 4, 2013 6:05 PM

This is AWESOME!!!! Way better than Infinity, Millennium, or One Rincon. Views are going to be amazing, being right on the water front. Location is the absolute best of the best.

Posted by: Ken at January 4, 2013 6:12 PM

I love the design, I like its hight; however, I do agree with BT that the building does look pretty boxy, I like the overall design I just feel that theres more that can be done with the top of the building to make it more distinctive. I also like the art installation, but I feel that the architect could do more with the land.

Posted by: aahuatzi at January 4, 2013 10:58 PM

@Jane, not every building can/should be a statement or icon. SF's more noteworthy places are so because of their continuity. Look at our, "Painted Ladies," for example. In contrast, look at Mission Bay, which is quickly becoming a wasteland of independent architectural expression. How many tourists visit the later?

Posted by: klo at January 5, 2013 7:19 AM

The artist who did the rendering has clearly been "inspired by" the sculptures of Andy Goldsworthy. Very inspired. That said I would love love to see Goldsworty's art on the embarcadero!

Posted by: Abzot at January 5, 2013 9:35 AM

I like it, but not a huge amount. The location is great, and I really like that we might get more height along the embarcadero, but It seems a little boxy, particularly for such a prominent location. I think the most important improvement would be to get rid of that flat top. It would look much better with a nice crown or something.

Posted by: cbf at January 5, 2013 10:32 AM

seems like a huge parking shortage..

tearing down an 8 story parking garage and then only putting in enough parking spaces for the new residents of the condos.

people who are using that garage now will be screwed.

Posted by: spencer at January 5, 2013 12:03 PM

Not great, but good enough. Build it. What's next?

Posted by: formidable doer of the nasty at January 5, 2013 12:38 PM

I have been trying for months to understand the fetish of many who post demanding that buildings be "taller!", "bigger", "more narrow", "should be 30 stories taller", etc.

Is this some form of Chicago/NYC/Hong Kong envy?
San Francisco is a VERY small city and super tall towers are not what visitors, real estate buyers and company headquarters are moving to San Francisco for.

Let's stop trying to compete with Chicago and celebrate the unique character of San Francisco that makes this city so attractive. I have no problem with a skyline of buildings that are the size of this project. I have no desire to compete with Chicago.

Posted by: SF Lover at January 5, 2013 3:35 PM

Totally agree SF Lover. So much whining here about comparing us constantly to other "big" and bigger cities. Who cares?

Yes, we are a very small city. It's fine for us to have a few tall and super-talls.

And then some people actually think we are heading toward "looking like every other mid-west city.."

jeezus. what insane fear mongering.

Posted by: futurist at January 5, 2013 3:39 PM

LOL that wanting taller towers must be some kind of Chicago envy...

I'd be fine with carpeting the city with 6-8 story buildings, does that mean I have Paris envy?

I just want the city to add housing/office space in any way possible, in order to increase the number of folks that can call this wonderful place home, along with keeping our economy humming along. Don't really want it to be like other cities, just don't want the reason for us not to build tall to be some kind of "We don't want to be Chicago!" crap. Get rid of height limits and we wouldn't need to build tall in one place, but rather we'd see lots of midrises everywhere (my preference, though I don't much care either way).

Posted by: anon at January 5, 2013 4:17 PM

From the skyline, looks very boxy, bulky and boring. The park, other than the two sculptures, is also very bland and boring.

Posted by: WTF at January 5, 2013 9:02 PM

In agreement with anon. Six-eight stories is a good height for many parts of the city and would allow for a lot more density. If there's one part of town where 350 foot buildings are appropriate, it's downtown.

Posted by: zouaf at January 6, 2013 3:41 PM

Agreed, keep the tall towers downtown!!, BUT...

Do those of you who worship at the altar of density include the following neighborhoods (Castro, Noe, Sea Cliff, Presidio Heights, Marina, Cow Hollow, Pacific Heights, Lake Street, North Beach, Russian Hill) in your desire to make over the entire city to your strange obsession for 6 to 8 story buildings. Keep your Paris and Chicago planning dreams south of California Street please!

Posted by: 94123 at January 6, 2013 6:33 PM

High rises (30+ stories) downtown and mid-Market. 6-8 stories along major transit routes, like Market Street west of Civic Center and Mission Street in the Mission, and where residential is replacing warehouses in Western SOMA, Mission Bay, Central Waterfront. Maintain existing density in most established neighborhoods.

Posted by: Dan at January 6, 2013 7:14 PM

"good enough" - are you kidding?!

Why is formulaic and banal architectural design good enough in SF? Meanwhile a waterfront site of similar stature in NY (on the Hudson River) gets the amazing Bjarke Ingels designed project now underway at West 57th Street. If you don't know it look it up - it makes practically every residential development project in this city look pathetically mediocre by comparison (and one could name dozens of similarly compelling building designs underway or recently completed in other cities around the world).

The sad thing is there are architects in SF with the design ability needed to produce such buildings - but they're overlooked, as the public, planners and developers here lack the vision needed to even consider the possibility of such design innovation in this city. The players behind projects like West 57th Street on the other hand are clearly willing to invest in strong, high quality architectural design from the get go.

Posted by: citicritter at January 7, 2013 12:22 AM

Continuing that thought...another great recent residential development that comes to mind as a risk-taking alternative to SF's design mediocrity is: Absolute Towers in Mississauga Ontario (of all places). This project, designed by a young-ish Beijing based firm called MAD, puts absolutely all of recent SF residential development to absolute shame - and it is located in a suburb! of Toronto.

Posted by: citicritter at January 7, 2013 12:49 AM

"another great recent residential development that comes to mind as a risk-taking alternative to SF's design mediocrity is: Absolute Towers in Mississauga Ontario" -citicritter


I disagree completely. Those buildings may be innovative, but they look goofy as hell in my opinion. Mississauga can keep them.

As for SF, of course we have a few too many bland boxy buildings (though there are plenty of nice ones too, but they're often shorter and hidden in the sea of boxes and don't stand out on the skyline), and we also seem to have a deficit of really nice designs for our new stuff that's getting built/proposed. But there are some pretty nice designs being proposed and built in SF, along with the boring/mediocre ones. This proposal for 75 Howard falls more into the "boring/mediocre" category though in my opinion, which is unfortunate given the prominent location.

Posted by: cbf at January 7, 2013 9:47 AM

Meh. That is some pretty weak rendering. This site deserves better.

Posted by: anon at January 7, 2013 10:30 AM

The sculptures in the drawing are, in fact, existing Goldsworthy pieces:

http://thearchitectstake.com.s3.amazonaws.com/wpb/wp-content/uploads/2010/02/goldsworthy-cairns-duo.jpg

Posted by: jlasf at January 7, 2013 11:04 AM

Regarding the design. If the developer knows that design #1 (or even #2) will be taken apart by some group and require redesign, why bother presenting your target design at first. Start with a simple & low cost design that you know won't be accepted and then "negotiate" your way to the middle, which is likely close to what you really want. Seems like a waste of time, but (as Hyman Roth in the Godfather, part II says), "...this is the business we have choosen..."

I wish them luck - great location and the views will be very nice.

Posted by: JustLooking at January 7, 2013 11:11 AM

Dan has it right! The 6 - 8 story bulidings will frame the major transit streets quite nicely and open up the possibility for a nice pedestrian environment. You also want to trade the developers height ( to get to the 30 + range) for amentities that make complete(everything you need with a 10 min walk) neighbohoods. It's also important for the tall buildings to take on the podium and tower format to create a street wall, protect view corridors and let sunlight in. The density of the other areas Dan mentioned could slightly increased with a detailed approach. For example height could be increased slighlty at neighborhood shoppping/services intersections if the opportunity arises etc.

Posted by: VancouverJones at January 7, 2013 3:23 PM

Anyone else think that this is really ugly and won't age well? The Fontana 2.0?

Posted by: realist at January 7, 2013 4:12 PM

Unless all of you are looking at a lot more detailed digital renderings, I cannot really tell much from this very small image. I can't judge it much at this point.

Additionally, why do people have to keep comparing architecture in OTHER cities?: NY always comes up. And let's be real, NY has plenty of basic, blocky high rises too.

Not every single new building on our skyline HAS to be complex, goofy, wild, crazy, "world class" whatever that means, or even tall.

Yes, they should be "interesting" and I think this one will be.

Posted by: futurist at January 7, 2013 5:30 PM

Will this space continue to be a park or will the owners of the Waterbar try to develop this space the way they did the space across the Embarcadero? Whatever city officials approved converting the park space on the Embarcadero to the two restaurants should be fired, in my opinion.

Posted by: Bill at August 21, 2013 3:15 AM

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