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Having been on hold for a few years, the plans for a few big towers to rise at First and Mission, a.k.a. the 50 First Street site, have been reworked and resubmitted to Planning.
As currently envisioned, the existing office/retail buildings at 50 First, 62 First, and 76-78 First would be razed to make room for a 850-foot tall, 59-story tower fronting First Street as well as a 605-foot tall, 56-story tower fronting Mission Street.
The 850-foot First Street Tower One would contain 1,220,000 square feet of office space over ground-floor retail, as was previously proposed, with a garage for up to 187 cars.
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Plans for the 605-foot tower fronting Mission now call for 500 residential units over ground floor retail and a five level subterranean parking garage with 136 parking spaces. Earlier plans to include hotel and entertainment components in the tower have been dropped.
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Plans for a third tower on the corner of First and Mission have also been dropped and the existing building at 88 First Street would be rehabilitated as part of the 50 First project.
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Noting that because of its height, “the proposed [850-foot] Tower One would stand out as a major landmark on the skyline,” and as such, “the design should exceed conventional standards and should be a stellar piece of contemporary architecture comparable to the best tall buildings worldwide,” the Planning Department has offered a few suggestions for the tower’s design, the images of which above are simply placeholders at this point:

Consider design options that sculpt the building to create a unique feature on the skyline. The top of Tower One should feature a dynamic and interesting top that presents an interesting profile. To the extent that shadow considerations, based on further analysis, might prevent major additional decorative rooftop elements from rising above a height of 850 feet, the Department expects a reduction of sufficient occupied space at the top of the building below 850 feet to allow for a satisfying sculpted building top within the 850-foot height envelope.

As part of the project, Jessie Street would be rerouted and the portion of Tower One that spans the existing Jessie Street route would be converted into a three-story public galleria (Jessie Street Galleria); Elim Alley would be converted to a two-story galleria with lobby and retail uses (Elim Alley Galleria); and a public plaza would sit at the base of Tower Two.
A Trio Of Renzo Piano SOM Towers At 50 First Street As Proposed [SocketSite]

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by mdg

    AWSOME – BUILD IT……!
    Love the idea of unique capitols on the buildings too
    I’m sure Sue Hestor will have a coronary when she sees the plans….She hates everything

  2. Posted by OMN

    It’s too bad that 850 will be the max height (including all unoccupied space) but I’ll take it.
    This project would really help balance the Transbay tower, which I think juts out a bit too much as proposed.

  3. Posted by Joe

    The height to parapet is 901′ which is pretty much like saying SF will have an average temp of 80f for the month of July…. It just doesnt happen in this town..ever

  4. Posted by conifer

    It seems there is a long series of interesting new large buildings that will transform the whole of San Francisco, even if largely sited in the areas south of Market.
    These new residents and new businesses will put paid to the lefty government of the turn of the century. We will soon have a city government based on common sense.
    The Daly/Peskin/Olague/Agnos era will be seen as a red-colored part of our history, along with such quaint aspects as the Barbary Coast, Victorian houses, the Beats, Hippies, and Herb Caen. It will get its own vitrine in the new San Francisco Museum at the Old Mint.

  5. Posted by Rillion

    I wouldn’t count your new less liberal voters before they moved in Conifer.

  6. Posted by rabbits

    Rillion … it’s possible to be a liberal and still think that the Red coalition of Daly et al were terrible for the City. This was a group that was desirous of more homeless, less homeownership, lousy Muni service, and preserved-in-Amber neighborhoods all in the name of keeping an entitled class of people that moved here in the 1970′s in place (and of course keeping themselves in positions of power). Their last mouthpiece, the Guardian, is practically hyperventilating about the changing demographics that these buildings are bringing. But I can’t help but think that a more common sense based gov’t would be an improvement. BTW, I count myself among the liberal.

  7. Posted by James

    Anything taller than the 400′ plateau is a nice addition to the skyline, but these seem truly unique architecturally (unlike the Transbay). I’m also pleased that they’re keeping the old masonry building on the corner. I love the patchwork blending of old & new on the street.

  8. Posted by BTinSF

    When I read things like “Noting that because of its height, “the proposed [850-foot] Tower One would stand out as a major landmark on the skyline,” . . . the Planning Department has offered a few suggestions for the tower’s design . . . .” it makes me LOL.
    The idea that the Planing Department bureaucrats are capable of making the work of noted architects better is just laughable and is at the basis of what is wrong with San Francisco architecture in general. If they really want world class buildings, they should hire world class architects and give them free reign, without interference from the Planing Dept. or “activists”, to conceive a vision and build it.

  9. Posted by lol

    Rillion, the change is still happening, even slowly.
    Who are the new comers? Tech kids, entrepreneurs, lawyers, researchers, etc… The entry point is pretty high and it brings its own brand of progressiveness with a conservative aftertaste. It’s a 2-headed beast: leftish-leaning workers with money, but it’s much closer to the mainstream of Democrats. Even after the tech/wealth waves, SF is still 80+% voting DNC.
    But watch out as this crowd starts to enjoy the spoils of entitlements. For instance I was virulently against prop 13 3 years ago when I purchased. Now that the market has gained 40+% I have softened my stance considerably ;)

  10. Posted by James

    BTinSF, the Planning suggestions were to preserve the sculptural elements of the design given the reality that the height will be chopped. They’re just trying to keep the good parts of the building good as it moves from proposal to reality.

  11. Posted by Rillion

    My point isn’t that I agree with the “red coalition” or that I know future voters will agree with them, just saying that we cannot automatically predict how future arrivals to the city will vote. lol makes a good point about how views can change from lived experience. Yes, new residents may change SF, but it is also possible that SF will change new residents. I used to vote Republican when I lived in Los Angeles but after five years in Santa Cruz and fifteen in SF, I’m a pretty solid liberal voter.

  12. Posted by emanon

    “the images of which above are simply placeholders at this point”
    James, I certainly hope we get exceptional additions to what most agree is a boring skyline, but I think you’re jumping the gun stating that these “seem truly unique”. Their design has many many iterations to go before being finalized.

  13. Posted by Turin

    James said: “I’m also pleased that they’re keeping the old masonry building on the corner. I love the patchwork blending of old & new on the street.”
    I couldn’t agree with you more. I’m very happy to hear the corner building will stay and be refurbished. That was the only tiny complaint I had about the previous proposal.

  14. Posted by rabbits

    And my point is that there is a difference between being a liberal on large, national matters and being on the liberal side of local issues. My views on national matters would probably be considered radical by centrists or those on the right, but on local issues I’d be accused of being a conservative, pro-business GOPer. Build more, relax restrictions on all types of property ownership (TICs most notably), fix Muni, fix potholes, have some standards for public decency, etc.

  15. Posted by James

    What I mean is that the designs don’t look like other towers I’ve seen elsewhere. Maybe they’ll be totally different, but at least the proposal isn’t immediately “like the Bank of China” or whatever. It seems non-derivative and non-cookie-cutter. Are there other towers like this I don’t know about?

  16. Posted by lol

    The Millennium tower already chopped off 60% of my Bay Bridge view a few years back. Seeing the building come up was really an amazing sight.
    And now I’ll have front row seats to the building of 3 new major towers. Yeah!
    That’s gotta suck for the One Ecker people who are permanently losing all leftover sunlight from their rooftop. Then again, they’ll be in a unique location.

  17. Posted by sf

    Nice!!! Go SF
    Fun fact: Sue Hestor’s office, located in the Flood Building, shadows the nearby public plaza cable car turnaround.

  18. Posted by Sam

    Id love to see a highly original architect chosen for this project, has one been selected? I have no doubt one will not be, but I can dream. Maybe the strict height limits bar certain choices of architects.

  19. Posted by Sam

    Oh, I just read the previous articles… sigh. Oh well, its just too hard to make buildings here for it to be worth it to hire highly original architects. Too little competition in choice of buildings for companies, and too hard to get through original buildings

  20. Posted by Matteo

    lets hope Elim Alley benefits from this development.

  21. Posted by SFTechEntrepreneur

    I second Rabbit!
    The new people moving into the city (technologists) are socially-liberal, but they believe in solving problems, greater efficiencies, data-driven decisions, which the government is TERRIBLE at! The city will soon be run by progressive politicians, such as Mayor Bloomberg, who is pro jobs and people, instead of entitled self-interests.

  22. Posted by extra

    I’ve been looking at this on and off all day and have mixed feelings. I really like the design itself. The buildings clustered on this block will have a great variety of scale, age, proportion and materiality. Nice pedestrian-scale design features, with the gallerias and the preserved existing building at 88 First. I like how they’re working around 84 First, 40 First and 510 Mission even though I assume the developer could afford to buy and raze those structures.
    Elegant, tall, slender towers.
    Too bad for 25 Ecker, which seriously loses light and views on two sides.
    I do have a problem if the developers are essentially given public land. The Jessie and Elim rights of way are public property. I appreicate how the pedestrian connection is maintained with the gallerias. But with modern security concerns you know the owner will control and patrol these spaces and be able to close them down whenever they want. I would hate to see a trend of SF giving away the little alley streets to developers–they’re what gives San Francisco (and SOMA in particular) its character. By all means, build tall, but don’t give streets away to private developers.

  23. Posted by Alex

    To bad they cut down the height. I wonder what Mayor Ed Lee has to say about the Transbay Tower not being the tallest tower west of the Mississippi. He stated that it was during the groundbreaking ceremony and it clearly wasn’t.

  24. Posted by Joe

    This will be the tower with the highest occupied floor height – the tower in LA has something like a 100′ flagpole.

  25. Posted by philipthemholes

    Alex,
    I’m sad to say Ed Lee is an idiot and probably doesn’t realize what he said. Worst mayor ever.
    BTW, I love the mix of old/new, tall/short in the new SoMa. I can’t wait to see what this area looks like in 15 years when it’s matured.

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