“For an architect who is proposing San Francisco’s tallest buildings, [Renzo] Piano does not come across as a strident advocate for height. He says he is not interested in breaking records. He recently walked away from a 1,000-foot project at Winthrop Square in Boston because the developer was pushing for a level of density that would have forced larger floorplates, and a clumsier structure.”
“When you make tall buildings you have be careful not to fall in the trap of making aggressive, powerful, arrogant buildings,” he said. “(Tall buildings) can be obsessive symbols of power. Somebody talks about phallic symbols and it is true. Sometimes tall buildings don’t tell very interesting stories.”
“In contrast, Piano sees San Francisco as a “city about romanticism and light.” Piano said he is planning to keep some of the three- and four-story buildings along First Street.”
“Modern architecture and construction tends to want to destroy what is already there, but I think it’s a mistake because the growth and transformation of cities is about layers, so it’s a pity not to keep some element of memory,” he said. “Those little buildings at First and Mission are part of the story.” (Master of detail)
Master of detail [San Francisco Business Times]
They Just Keep Getting Bigger, And Bigger, And Bigger… [SocketSite]

5 thoughts on “JustQuotes: Renzo Piano Talks Tall Buildings With J.K. Dineen”
  1. So what, we now are coming late to the party wanting to build our own super-tall tower? From Shanghai to Dubai, everyone is building the “tallest building” west, east, and north of somewhere, and what is the point? Would we feel more grown up as a city? I wish these “star” architects would concentrate more on real urban problems, instead of trophy museums and towers. It is funny how he mentions how suprised he is to see “his” building in Golden Gate park form a “relationship” with the hills nearby. So much for Bay Area Regionalism!

  2. I think a big point for the City to maximize vertically is that they need the money to pay for a whole lotta retiree health care benefit obligations over the next several years – 5 years of service, and you get retiree health insurance when you reach retirement age (whatever retirement age means these days). Scandalous!

  3. @playerPiano
    What’s the point? The point is that this part of the city is perfectly suited for ‘sky is the limit’ density.
    Given the sky high cost of housing in this city and the ever increasing rents for Class A office space with a view, it makes sense that enterprising developers would want to try and capitalize on the high demand in the market for buildings like this.
    Throw in the easy access to transit and potential for a world class building design in a city that is seriously lacking…

  4. Trust me, this tower project will in no way help to lower the cost of housing in this city. NOW, taking a corridor like GEARY , going out towards the sea, and add some in-fill projects as low as four stories where there is currently unoccupied one story commercial space, and we could add more affordable housing in two blocks than this tower could at 100 stories. What I find most interesting is that there are huge areas of this rather small city that are underdeveloped and my question is, why can’t we finish Mission Bay before we try to be Chicago West. Skyscrapers are NOT an efficient use of resources and are not the answer to affordable housing. (Though I have to admit, I would love to see this project go up compared to the 1Rincon eyesore.)

  5. For sure we need more infill housing where one story space exists now, and, 1 Rincon is ugly as sin (I have to look at it every day as it rises) – but, there is no reason we shouldn’t build at high densities in our city’s core.
    Given the severe housing shortage in this city and the sky-high prices and rents that result, we should be building in Mission Bay, Lower Market, SOMA, Hayes Valley and anyplace else that is equipped to handle high density.
    Now, maybe trophy buildings like Piano’s create their own demand, but I’m going to take an educated guess and say that the increased supply at a high-end building like this lessens the demand for other luxury units elsewhere. Eventually that relief of pressure on the top end works itself down to my plebian level. However, this is only going to happen in a meaningful way if we allow enough units to be built.
    Fortunately, if you follow SocketSite, you know that there is a huge number of units in the pipeline.

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