CFAH

Rincon Hill Bank of American Clock Tower

We’re not fans of One Rincon Hill’s white stripes (although we rather like the band). And we do believe that more could have been done with the design (assuming the city would have acquiesced). But at the same time, we also believe that critiquing the design prior to the completion of both towers constitutes an unfair rush to judgment. And that it’s worth remembering the architecture (and use of land) that graced this site not too long ago.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by SFnative

    Rincon is ugly. Period.

  2. Posted by S&S

    I don’t think it’s THAT ugly. It just looks a little out of place right now cuz it’s kind of the Rincon Hill Lone Ranger, but once downtown fills in, it will look just fine. Ugly or not, it’s still better than what WAS there. 🙂

  3. Posted by sb

    Yes. The more finished it gets, the more hideous it gets. From the water looking in, it’s actually quite nice. From the City looking out (the view that we all have), well, the architects should hang their heads in shame for somehow making such a conservative, slender design so astoundingly unappealing. I would likek to be more indignant but I guess the front has always looked like crap:
    http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/object/article?f=/c/a/2006/07/02/BAGD5JO3A41.DTL&o=2
    Sigh. Yes, please build more tall buildings in South beach! Just, maybe a little more design oversight next time?

  4. Posted by CameronRex

    Personally I still think it looks pretty cool and I REALLY like the design driving on I80 towards the Bay. Hopefully as S&S wrote more people will at least be indifferent as more buildings get built around it.

  5. Posted by redseca2

    “but once downtown fills in, it will look just fine”
    I am always amazed at how the entire history of San Francisco is divided by some into two periods: 1840-2000, an irrelevant pre-Google period when growth was at a snail’s pace; and 2000-Now, when they happened to be living here during a boom.

  6. Posted by EH

    That picture is inconsequential without a Union 76 logo.

  7. Posted by zig

    redseca-what is the point you are making? Are you impling that only recent transplants want to see change?
    I don’t really like the view of One Rincon from the West where I live but do like it from the East (seems this is the common take on this). Once the second tower is done at a 180 I think it will look fine and agree that it needs more context with other tall buildings
    It is growing on me. It is far better than many other buildings in the City new and old. It is a fantasy that somehow design boards can drive consensus and yet we can get a lot of new builidngs. There are going to be losers and middling design and some winners. The City wants sleek new building and one Rincon in general meets that. Some people will never be pleased

  8. Posted by missionbayres

    At least with the clocktower I knew exactly what time I arrived in SF 🙂
    Now with that hideous building there, I’m just going to honk my horn everytime I pass by just to piss off the folks living there! hehe J/K

  9. Posted by anon

    Now with that hideous building there, I’m just going to honk my horn everytime I pass by just to piss off the folks living there! hehe J/K
    No need for that. They’ll be plenty pissed off when they have to fight the bay bridge backup every day to get home!

  10. Posted by futuro

    I would take One Rincon over the 76/BofA clock tower any day. I love the change that is happening and I am a 3rd generation San Franciscan. I cant wait for the Piano Tower designs to be released….any word? Build those in addition to the Transbay Tower by Pelli and the rest of the Rincon and Transbay plans and this skyline will be truly amazing.

  11. Posted by RinconHill_Res

    “No need for that. They’ll be plenty pissed off when they have to fight the bay bridge backup every day to get home!”
    This is one of the most idiotic statements I’ve ever seen on this site (and that’s saying a lot). Your statement either implies that vehicles travel on the sidewalks surrounding the building or that people who live in the building are “driving” to get home. Wake up and smell the coffee. That’s why someone buys a home in this area, for the convenience of not having to deal with people like you day in and day out during rush hour.
    I hope you’ll think of me everytime you get in your car to drive home through the jungle of traffic while I’m sitting at home after a 5 minute walk from my office looking down from my 20th floor windows laughing at you sitting in a line of cars.

  12. Posted by redseca2

    zig,
    No, I am not trying to say that either long term or short term residents as a group perfer one thing over another.
    The previous poster had noted that 1 Rincon “might looked out of place now”, “but once downtown fills in, it will look just fine”. My point was that the amount of “filling in” they might be thinking of to achieve some pleasant massing (and partially conceal a bland tower), based on historic San Francisco development cycles, may take generations of boom and bust times to complete.

  13. Posted by S&S

    “redseca-what is the point you are making? Are you impling that only recent transplants want to see change?”
    “Some people will never be pleased”
    Thanks, zig. My sentiments exactly. Who needs change, anyway, when I could be carving on stone blocks to post a comment to a blog written on a cave wall? 😛

  14. Posted by S&S

    OK, redseca, I understand your point, but I wasn’t implying that downtown would fill in overnight (that would clearly be a naive expectation). There are quite a few more buildings/projects “planned” to go up, and it may be years/decades/whatever, but the change will come. The building will eventually blend in. That’s all I was saying.

  15. Posted by anon

    This is one of the most idiotic statements I’ve ever seen on this site (and that’s saying a lot). Your statement either implies that vehicles travel on the sidewalks surrounding the building or that people who live in the building are “driving” to get home. Wake up and smell the coffee. That’s why someone buys a home in this area, for the convenience of not having to deal with people like you day in and day out during rush hour.
    Haha. I live at the Met right now and I walk to Bart to get to work. The traffic in the area is a mess and it will always be a mess. And sometimes after I get home from work I need to go shopping, and guess what, it’s gridlock trying to get out of the driveway. ORH will be worse.
    I’ll guarantee you that > 50% of the ORH residents will be driving to/from work. At the Met, the garage is at least 50% empty during the day, because people drive to work (what a shock)! I think you are underestimating the traffic, have you ever seen it during rush hour?

  16. Posted by missionbayres

    “I’ll guarantee you that > 50% of the ORH residents will be driving to/from work. At the Met, the garage is at least 50% empty during the day, because people drive to work (what a shock)! I think you are underestimating the traffic, have you ever seen it during rush hour?”
    That’s a fair assessment. Living in a large complex in Mission Bay (which is the most transit friendly neighborhood in SF), I concur that 50% of the vehicles in my garage leave during the morning hours. Rincon Hill is transit friendly too, but has always been a drive-in/drive-out neighborhood. I walk pass Rincon Hill daily after work, and I say 1st and Harrison is gridlocked almost daily during rush hours…

  17. Posted by i like deeded parking

    This is one of the most idiotic statements I’ve ever seen on this site (and that’s saying a lot). Your statement either implies that vehicles travel on the sidewalks surrounding the building or that people who live in the building are “driving” to get home. Wake up and smell the coffee. That’s why someone buys a home in this area, for the convenience of not having to deal with people like you day in and day out during rush hour.
    You’re naive if you think that a lot of people who live in ORH won’t be driving to work. Even worse, ORH only has valet parking. I don’t even want to think about how much of a pain it’s going to be to get a car during rush hour or on a Saturday night to go out.
    Thank God that I bought a unit in a bldg with deeded parking and that isn’t right next to the I80 entrance…

  18. Posted by roos

    Checking out the sfgate video that shows the second tower from the East, I can see much more clearly how the two towers will compliment one another. The first tower looks unfinished by itself, the total incongruity of the East facade with the West make it look like an air purifier from one side and a really dull glass boxy mess from the other. The second tower puts its, um, air purifier side to the East and they end up creating a single complex enclosed in, um, purified negative ions. I wouldn’t say that makes the over all scene good, but at least there was a reason for the ionic breeze siding… it’s a bookend.

  19. Posted by redseca2

    roos,
    To go with the style of some of the posts here, yours is about the most intelligent post I have seen in this thread. The project is less than half done, so it is too early for harsh and final judgements.
    My main concern is that we will wander into such an economic down time that the second tower is never built, or if it is, they stand alone for 20 years.

  20. Posted by LJ

    Am I the only who thinks we need more pyramids? Preferably with bay windows from now on?

  21. Posted by sforange

    want another new building(s) to pick at? try the new Kuleto restaurants on the Embaradero. Situated on prime waterfront property there are two buidings designed specifically as resturants and likely (?) approved by the Planning Commission. Drive by on the Embrac and you stare right into the back of the service area — complete with rollout trash bins explosed to the street. The building turn their back to the street. Another bonehead planning miss.

  22. Posted by Paul Hwang

    The second tower will be built. I’m willing to wager a drink at Local on it.
    I don’t think the building is ugly at all, but I have to admit everytime I drive in from 280 I laugh to myself when I think about a “Giant Ionic Breeze”. In fact maybe I will open up a bar at the bottom and call it “GIB”.

  23. Posted by anonoldtimer

    For us oldtimers, the building was a little hard to get used to, but I actually like it now. Sure it is not perfect, but it is not the Marriot Jukebox either.
    I like the pre and post Google comment in that I am amazed how many recent residents moved here for “the money”, and not the town. I fell in love with this city when my parents brought me here when I was six years old, and I planned my move here all through college. Beat Poets, Lillian Coit, the Big Four, Harvey Milk, Sylvester, Jack Kerouac, Herb Caen, Dashiell Hammet, Jack London, Armistead Maupin, what would they think of the Google Pods? In a line in the morning to be sucked into the Google Pod bus and returned late in the evening so that they can change into trendy urban hipsters and enjoy the touristic memories of the San Francisco that was.
    I have no problem with change, but I wish people would at least TRY to learn to appreciate the city that once was. Enjoy your condo towers and BMW’s, I’m off to Mendecino for the weekend.

  24. Posted by Gabriel

    I still don’t get the incessant whining about the design of this building.
    It’s easily one of the more interesting tall buildings in SF. And the design is sleek and has just enough detailing, e.g., vertical white stripey side, complimented with 3 horizontal stripey sides.. set at irregular intervals..and handsome dark blue glass. and give a new focal point away from the ugliness of the BofA tower and boxy building of civic center.
    One Rincon Hill is good architecture, IMO! how could it have been any different i have to ask all the naysayers..? remove the white detailing and then have it be completely boring?
    if people really want to be vicious about a building.. they should turn their angst towards the new InterContinental hotel. Now that building is totally FUgly!! and set back the architectural integrity of that immediate area once again.

  25. Posted by redseca2

    Gabriel,
    “I still don’t get the incessant whining about the design of this building.”
    First, I am not one of the (loud) whiners. I believe the project needs to be completed, particularly the second tower to see what we bought ourselves as a City.
    But also, I am an Architect who has worked here in SF since the ’80’s. We are a big project firm, and we are currently under contract with an over one million square foot project in Mission Bay, so I am not one of those Architects who never left the Victorian style.
    The problem with 1 Rincon is that if I want to find a published image of a visually similar building, I need to go to a book or magazine published in the ’70’s or ’80’s. It is not a bad building, the Chrysler “K” car was not a bad car either, it is just not an example of a good buidling for this decade.

  26. Posted by rg

    Thanks for mentioning that, Gabriel, because I was just about to write a comment about the Intercontinental! I mean, if there is a PRIME example of how San Francisco DOESN’T learn from it’s mistakes (namely – the Marriot), then it’s the Intercontinental! ORH is now second in terms of lack of design oversight. But, sadly, I think that all of these buildings and a few hundred stucco boxes all over the city show that San Francisco has NO CLUE when it comes to good design and never will. I don’t even know what to say about the Intercontinental! I keep thinking it’s just a large Lego and I’m going to wake up soon.
    Redseca2 is the shining light of intelligence and rationale on this thread! The “when the area fills in” excuse is becoming very old. Face it, we are in a bad recession and those buildings are not going to get built. Even if they do, it’s going to take a long time for SF to gain/regain the population to fill those condos. And even if the population explodes somehow, most of those people moving to an urban area like SF are going to be recent college graduates making a fraction of what it costs to buy a condo. The only thing that is going to save SF is for all these condos to cost $200-300k (which, coincidentally, is what they would have cost less than 10 years ago).
    RinconHill_Res – wow, such delusion is really baffling me! Do you honestly believe that your neighbors are going to be walking to work? Not to be mean, but where have you been for the last, uh, 60 years??? Americans love their cars and aren’t going to give them up. Btw, who are you expecting your neighbors to be? What’s the average price for a ORH condo? $900k-$1 million? That translates into needing an income of approx. $225k/year to afford that condo! (assuming 33% of income towards housing and 20% down). WAKE UP! Only 10% of San Franciscan households make over $200k/year. 40% of SF households make under $50k/year! Those neighbors may be able to call SF “home” because they sleep there, but they are driving south to make the money to afford that home.
    Or, maybe they (and dare I say, you) aren’t making enough to afford that condo in the first place? In that case, I’ll be looking down on YOU from my rented perch on Twin Peaks thinking 2 things: 1)How ugly that building is, and 2)What’s RinconHill_Res eating for dinner tonight? PB&J or Top Ramen?

  27. Posted by S&S

    God, it’s sickening how these “oldtimers” band/flock together as if they are the fountain of infinite wisdom just because they are bitter renters who hate new buildings/designs they can’t afford to live in and put down and call stupid anyone who disagrees with them. You can bitch and moan all you want about how ugly this building is, and none of that is going to change the fact that it’s THERE, and it’s not going anywhere. OK, so One Rincon Hill is ugly. There. Do you guys feel better?

  28. Posted by anonoldtimer

    S&S, I like the building , in fact I find it sort of notsalgic. It has a certain feel to the design that actually has more in common with 70’s, which is my favorite decade for San Francisco. Take a look at the 1974 movie “Towering Inferno”. Not only does the tower in the movie look like 1RH, but the brown shag carpet mixed with bright orange furniture looks a lot more fun than a lot of the black and grey being used today. (Well, maybe not on second thought) I never thought I would look back and like 70’s design, but I guess every decade has a comeback, and there is nothing wrong with Faye Dunaway in a cocktail dress riding in a John Portman Hyatt Regency disco elevator.

  29. Posted by spencer

    “I am always amazed at how the entire history of San Francisco is divided by some into two periods: 1840-2000, an irrelevant pre-Google period when growth was at a snail’s pace; ”
    this is laughable. google is really not that important to SF. I can think of many companies that have been much more valuable to the growth and change in the area, even of the past few years.. for the record- 97-2001 was heavy growth, then a mass exodus, and after 2003 it picked up again.
    also, some would argue that soulless companies like google who prduce immature, unrefined millionaires are what have taken the culture out of san francisco.

  30. Posted by stoops

    According to (this site)Socketsite: “Condo owners have been forewarned that construction is set to begin late next month [February] on the second tower (at Rincon Hill)”
    From this weeks Business Times:”The firm is working in collaboration with Turnberry to redesign 45 Lansing St., a 40-story Rincon Hill condominium set to begin construction this winter”
    Rincon Hill may fill in faster than expected.

  31. Posted by SFnative

    S&S,
    You are correct that no matter what we think Rincon is not going anywhere and IMO is about to get worse.
    I don’t think others are stupid just because they disagree with me. I don’t like the design. I just think it’s ugly. As far as your comment as to being a “bitter renter,” let me clarify.
    Rincon has impaired my beautiful city and bay view. See, my family made a wise investment back in the 20’s. I own the property now. Free amd clear while making a comfortable living here in the city I love. I love being able to raise my family here. We’ll never leave.
    Subprime loans, falling prices, and the overall market slump haven’t affected me a bit. So, you may have a point. I’m bitter, but only about my view.

  32. Posted by anonosaur

    “RinconHill_Res – wow, such delusion is really baffling me! Do you honestly believe that your neighbors are going to be walking to work? Not to be mean, but where have you been for the last, uh, 60 years??? Americans love their cars and aren’t going to give them up. Btw, who are you expecting your neighbors to be? What’s the average price for a ORH condo? $900k-$1 million? That translates into needing an income of approx. $225k/year to afford that condo! (assuming 33% of income towards housing and 20% down). WAKE UP! Only 10% of San Franciscan households make over $200k/year. 40% of SF households make under $50k/year! Those neighbors may be able to call SF “home” because they sleep there, but they are driving south to make the money to afford that home.”
    But then again, according to the poll, all of the posters on Socketsite make over 200k! J/K.
    rg, you happen to be wrong. I do love my car but I will be walking to work from ORH on most days. My office is in the financial district and I look forward to walking there. I have walked it before and it takes me about 10 minutes.

  33. Posted by anonosaur

    “Rincon has impaired my beautiful city and bay view. See, my family made a wise investment back in the 20’s…..I’m bitter, but only about my view.”
    I love comments like these.
    People move to the city and then think they have ownership rights to their view. Cities change. I am sure there were people that moved to SF long before you that think your family’s wise investment ruined their views.

  34. Posted by SFnative

    I never claimed to have rights to my view. I just feel that Rincon has impaired it. Where did I claim ownership or rights? I just stated that I find the building ugly. So yes, I am a bit bitter about the struture. Sorry this is so offensive to you. And for the record, I don’t think my view is ruined, not by a long shot. I do find it amusing how so many people are taking my opinion so personally.
    It would take a lot more than a few more buildings to ruin my view. That’s for sure. You are right. Cities change. I’ve seen plenty of change here in the last for decades. I think some changes are good, some are not. This is just a change that I don’t happen to like. I think it’s ugly. That’s all.

  35. Posted by Gabriel

    redseca_2.. thanks for your good comments. however, i can think of many recent projects in san francisco that don’t seem to ‘work for this decade’ — even more so than this building. including the majority of Mission Bay projects. the St. Regis comes to mind, too. in fact, i think SOM should not be allowed to build in SF, ever again.
    ORH seems to be moving in the right direction for me as far as modernizing the skyline. i travel to many major cities quite often.. and i haven’t seen any buildings from the 70’s/80’s that look like this building. currently i’m in chicago. and with the exceptions of a few 80’s standouts. most of the architecture from that period i find staid and unimaginative.
    that’s not to say that ORH is ‘imaginative’ enough to be called perfect. but it does look really handsome from the embarcadero and adds pizazz to the architectural landscape in SF.

  36. Posted by SFhighrise

    That “ionic breeze” look should be balanced out upon the completion of the second tower, as the more subtle side will be facing east. Conversely, we will see another “ionic breeze” on the second tower when driving from the east bay over the bridge. I personally don’t think it looks that bad and think people are just hyper-critical.

  37. Posted by Jamie

    I love this quote (who knows who said it first) – The only people who like changes are wet babies. Seems to fit.

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