Shane Ferro
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OBJECT LESSONS: Architecture & Design News

Pelli Clarke Pelli’s New San Francisco Skyscraper to Rise Above the Fog

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Last week, San Francisco’s Planning Commission approved Pelli Clarke Pelli’s proposals for the Transbay Tower, a glinting skyscraper of metal and glass that would become the West Coast’s tallest. At 1,072 feet, it officially passes the 300-meter supertall test (which seems kind short now that 600-meter-or-more megatalls are all the rage around the world). The mixed office and retail space is part of the firm’s Transit Center District plan, a collaboration with Hines developers where a slew of new commercial and residential high-rises, hotels, and retail spaces are going to sprout over the 145 acres surrounding a new central bus terminal.

Obelisk-like in design, the Transbay Tower tapers: the dense metalwork at the base gets lighter as you travel up through its 61 stories, culminating at a hollow crown of steel that extends above where the habitable floors end. Architect Fred Clarke has poetically described it as “something visible at urban scale but almost Zen-like in its simplicity,” according to the San Francisco Chronincle. “The idea is to further lengthen and slim the profile and also create something more distinctly emblematic of the city.”

At night, backlit steel frames are going to glow above the city. Does that open it to comparisons to our city’s own crowned, emblematic Chrysler Building, adding to the list of impassioned East Coast-West Coast rivalries? Nah. Our art deco icon may stand 20 feet shorter than the Transbay Tower, and California may have better weather and Mexican food, but it doesn’t even come close to our pizza or our skyline. [SFist]

— Janelle Zara

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