In the background of the aerial rendering for the proposed tower to rise at One Van Ness, the existing 400 foot building at 100 Van Ness lurks.

As proposed and rendered above and below, however, the old AAA headquarters will be re-skinned and re-purposed as a 399-unit apartment building with ground floor retail, 118 parking spaces, and a 12,000 square foot rooftop resident’s playground above.


Features of the proposed 29th floor roof deck (click image to enlarge) include fire pits, lounges, a dog walk, a hot tub, lawn, plants and trees.

And yes, there’s a good reason why apartment buildings are currently all the rage.

48 thoughts on “100 Van Ness Repurposed, Redesigned And Rendered”
  1. Yes, better than what is existing, but how freakin’ boring and unimaginative in design. What a waste of an otherwise great space. SF is going to be associated with ho-hum.

  2. Personally, I don’t hate 100 Van Ness as it is now. Everyone else seems to. The neighborhood is definitely in need of some updating, but I’d prefer to re-skin the adjacent terds.
    As for the design — ironically I think this will look dated pretty quickly. We’ll see them re-skinning this in another 20 years.

  3. There are probably 200 outdated office buildings that could be bought inexpensively and repurposed as apartments, adding 5000 units in the next two years with no new construction.
    Just when you think supply is constrained, the developers rip that assumption to shreds. Investors are clamoring for apartments, and where there is a need, people will fill it in a big way.

  4. P.S., Did anyone else notice they seem to be using a shot of the old building for the first rendering’s Southern facing reflection? I think I see Transamerica building in there on the West side.

  5. The adjacent historic AAA building isn’t a part of this? That needs to be de-skinned (from the early 60’s?) badly. Makes it all a bit ironic, doesn’t it….

  6. The green is way too dark & heavy for the size of the building but I like overall.
    Repurpose is not a real word.
    This is a really good thing for the strategic intersection of Market/VN where Castro/Hayes/Mid-Market converge.

  7. I must be the only person on earth who kind of appreciates buildings of their time as buildings of their time. There aren’t many buildings around the intersection of Market and Van Ness that weren’t “statements” at the time they were built. It’s always been a pretty high-profile intersection. The last couple decades are probably the only time it hasn’t had much prestige. The result of all those decades of prominence is a collection of pretty good examples of architecture at the time, some pretty exuberant examples, at that. The Mission style HQ for the school district, the BofA on the corner, the AAA buildings, Fox Plaza (and the great theatre it replaced) were all — and all remain — buildings of value, it seems to me.
    And, yes, yes, it’s private property and not old enough to be protected…

  8. Not every building “of their time” is noteworthy. Many examples of buildings designed in the 60’s-70’s are very brutal examples of a cheap highrise, devoid of any character or quality.
    This existing building is one of those, I fee. I look forward to the new skin and roof top additions. the look is more transparent, lighter and more elegant.
    BTW: so many “haters” on SS lately, of anything new, contemporary or different that what is there. “Boring and unimaginative”? really? care to share why.

  9. “so many “haters” on SS lately”
    So many haters in SF which is part of the reason we have a lot of bland and unimaginative boxes in our skyline. Hate until it’s bland!!

  10. I don’t think the old building is bad and I am generally opposed to the trend for flaying. However I can see why apartments would be more desirable with big windows and light.
    I think the new version is a nice color and not that boring, actually. Roof deck looks very cool.

  11. When you say the old building isn’t “bad”, do you mean it’s “good”? and if so, how so?
    I don’t think a lot of “haters” in SF is really the reason why we may have a lot of bland buildings. Not all of our buildings are bland. The new work south of market is fairly exceptional; witness the 4 buildings at Foundry Square on Howard and 1st, among others. The black curtain wall building by Pelli on Mission near 2nd is pretty outstanding.
    IMO, it’s easier for people to just comment and say they “hate it” or don’t like it, without giving valid, interesting reasons. It takes some effort, desire, intelligence, information,knowledge, etc. to really critique a building, both pro and con.

  12. I like it. It meets the sidewalk much better. It’s open, includes retail, and has those curved glass surfaces to open up much more sidewalk on a busy stretch of road making it more comfortable for pedestrians. And it adds 400 more units on an intersection with loads of transit options. All goodness in my book.

  13. BTW, I never hated the old skin, though I know I’m in the distinct minority there. But this is still a huge improvement.

  14. “brutal examples of a cheap highrise, devoid of any character or quality”
    Look at it. It’s the exact same skin as the TransAmerica pyramid, except that it’s a rectangular box and not a (detested at the time) pyramid.
    It’s an example of architecture of its time and a good one.
    And it’s shorter cousin, next door, is a great example of 50s/60s office buildings with colored glass panels and that bridge across Hayes.
    Almost all styles go through a “oh, that’s just awful and outdated” stage about 50 years after they fade from fashion. We should remember that before we knock down or disfigure them. Not all buildings should survive, of course, but ones that were built as prime examples of a style at a prominent place deserve at least some consideration of what they are.

  15. @ futurist: It’s “boring and unimaginative” because it’s just one big, tall fugly box. I don’t see how the obvious needs any more explanation or elaboration.

  16. “the look is more transparent, lighter and more elegant.”
    That’s what I thought too at first glance of the rendering. But then I realized that the appeal was the see through transparency through a colored prism. Those floors are rendered unfinished, with no interior walls: just as office tower floors are delivered to NNN lessees. In reality a occupants of residential structures want privacy. There will be lots of interior walls and random window coverings. Goodbye transparency and elegance.
    “Almost all styles go through a “oh, that’s just awful and outdated” stage about 50 years after they fade from fashion.”
    I totally agree and then they become “classic examples of the era” soon after their fall from grace. Still the current facade doesn’t do anything for me. Maybe I’m just not evolved enough.
    The real story here is conversion of office space to residential. SF continues its transition towards a bedroom suburb albeit a dense one.

  17. MoD…
    “The real story here is conversion of office space to residential. SF continues its transition towards a bedroom suburb albeit a dense one.”
    I don’t agree with that conclusion, as there’s plenty of office space being built in SF, just not there. To me it’s more a matter of the location no longer being as desirable for office space (particularly outdated space), while demand is growing for residential space.

  18. BobN, its shorter neighbor is not a 50/60’s building, but rather is a 20’s/30’s Mission Revivial office building which was butchered with a 50’s/60’s plexiglass skin. (immediately to the left in the rendering). It’s very evident when you look at the building (or enter it, if you remember the old AAA public reception area). That’s why I said it’s ironic that we’re skinning this one, while presumably we’re un-skinning the other one.

  19. But there is office space being ‘built’ there-Twitter, Yammer, etc. which is one of the reasons why developers want to build apartments in the area. Office/residential aside, I’m very excited for the area and look forward to it resembling what it is-one of the biggest, if not the biggest, intersections in SF.

  20. CPMC + MOB right down the street as well a brand new SFPUC building. Not to mention Twitter and who knows what else. Plenty of offices and plenty of workers to fill the new residential space. If it were a “suburb”, we’d have to sit in traffic 60 minutes each way to work. Instead I’ll just walk — peace, I’m out.

  21. The location is becoming superb for work, live, transit, close to downtown retail, quick hop on Muni to get to The Castro.
    This holds great promise for this part of SF.

  22. Looking at the cranes all over the city, it feels like 2005 all over again.
    Crazy amount of construction going on.

  23. BobN, its shorter neighbor is not a 50/60’s building, but rather is a 20’s/30’s Mission Revivial office building which was butchered with a 50’s/60’s plexiglass skin.
    I sort of vaguely remembered that about ten minutes after my post, which proves, I suppose, that even a skin can be a statement of its time. So I guess that means there’s something redeeming about the current plan. Perhaps.
    (Some might argue that the 50s/60s were all about butchering the past) 🙂

  24. Hey I said that SF was transitioning to a bedroom suburb. It isn’t there yet.
    Jobs are flat to slightly down while population went up during the past several decades. That’s a trend away from a job center towards a residential town, no?
    Balancing the residential/commercial space allocation across geography is a good thing because it allows us to use our transportation infrastructure more efficiently. (Just don’t overshoot!) If you’ve observed Caltrain ridership over the past few decades you’ll notice how crowded the southbound AM trains have become.

  25. MoD,
    More tech businesses are moving from the peninsula to SoMa, not the other way around.
    There is plenty of office construction on the horizon, it’s just happening in SoMa and not on Market/Van Ness. I mean, come on, the TRANSBAY TOWER?!?!?

  26. Transbay will come online at some point, but Foundry Square III, 222 Second, 350 Mission, 535 Mission, 350 Bush all have either indicated or been rumored to start within the next 12 months. There could be a ton of office space under construction in the very near future.

  27. There’s no doubt that office space is being built. But new beds are still outpacing new desks. It has been going on since even before the “live-work loft” loophole allowed construction of a bunch of cool condos.
    Growth is good in both sectors and I doubt that SF will ever achieve the unhealthy imbalance of the extreme bedroom suburbs.

  28. @Milkshake of Despair, you are correct about San Francisco transitioning to a bedroom suburb, and before some start to protest loudly, they only need to do a GOOGLE search to find dozens of articles that document this trend with statistics as well as the early 90’s book “EDGE CITY” that highlights the flight of jobs and offices from San Francisco to the South Bay and Eastern suburbs. (Edge City predicted that working class neighborhoods such as Noe Valley would turn into wealthy boutique historical neighborhoods for the newly affluent who desire to live in a city, BUT work in a suburb. The book also highlights the dirty secret that San Francisco’s #1 industry is tourism, not technology jobs)

  29. While some may see us becoming a bedroom suburb, other may see balancing live/work. SF was historically the job magnet, with suburbanites streaming in to downtown in cars and on BART. With more of a live/work balance, we can theoretically have more residents walking/biking or taking muni to work (like residents of this proposed project could walk over to Twitter). I say theoretically because, of course, we have seen an increased reverse commute as well and that does have a lot to do with the evolution of places like Noe Valley. But on balance we could get shorter commutes which is not a bad thing. It is ultimately more “sustainable” to have people live and work in the same place.
    One downside of increasing residential density at Van Ness is that Muni is often at crush load inbound in the AM (as well as outbound in the PM) which would frustrate any resident of this building attempting to take Muni to Montgomery, say. An easy fix would be to beef up the S shuttle (my current commute doesn’t have me riding Muni, so I’m not even sure if Muni is operating that right now). I’ve always thought it was the most sensible way to deal with the fact that a huge portion of muni ridership is on the Castro-Embarcardero (muni metro) route. But as it is now, using the Van Ness station is a very frustrating experience.
    Otherwise, if I lived in this building I would walk to Civic Center BART.

  30. The book also highlights the dirty secret that San Francisco’s #1 industry is tourism, not technology jobs
    This might have been true back in 1992 when Edge City was published but is not true today.
    I can’t remember this book predicting that working class urban neighborhoods would become gentrified, but it was a long time ago when I read it, do you mind pointing me to the appropriate chapter?

  31. It may be that it has “the exact same skin as the TransAmerica pyramid, except that it’s a rectangular box and not a (detested at the time) pyramid” but the skin of the Pyramid is not what makes it novel or interesting. It’s the shape.
    If you striped the heavy, unsophisticated concrete from the pyramid and replaced it with an elegant glass skin, it would look far more modern and valuable, rather than clunky and old.

  32. Much improved. Can’t see how a big rectangle could be much more improved other than by tearing it down. Folks in SF complain about how our buildings look, yet when the Feds plopped an instant landmark in the middle of the City, everyone bitched even more, when the SOMA Grand went up right next to it—a far more typical example of the sort of banality our planning department ushers in—got no comments whatsoever.

  33. I think it is short sighted to plan for 399 units and only 118 parking spots. One parking spot for every 3-4 units…Really?

  34. Poor Amy, she must be new to this site, and does not know of the wisdom of some socketsite posters and some city planners.
    They have decided, through their inspired superior intelligence, that cars are BAD, very BAD. Even Prius and Tesla.
    San Francisco, by limiting parking spaces, will henceforth attract a certain kind of exceptional person who agrees that life is better without cars. Such elevated specimens of humanity will have the privilege, in return for buying or renting an apartment with no chance of a parking space, to use “multiple bus lines” and other excellent divisions of Muni. They are also allowed to use bicycles, a means of transportation that excludes all physically inferior people: very young, old, frail, weak, ill, and most grocery shoppers. This policy of favoring the physically strong was well examined in certain well known events of the 20th century.
    God save us all from those who want to tell everyone else how to live. 1984 is coming.

  35. Don’t worry conifer, soon somebody will design and build micro-hyperloops that can transport you anywhere in the 7×7 within seconds, all powered by sunlight and San Franciscans’ sanctimony, which is a seemingly boundless resource. Cars will become totally obsolete.
    But you’ll have to wait 18 months for a permit to use a tube, and getting the permit will be subject to review by all your neighbors, who hate the hyperloops because they don’t have bay windows and block their light & air.
    While you wait, though, you can download several apps that let you share funny pictures with other people waiting for permits. Win-win.

  36. I’m confused conifer – are you suggesting that the city force the developer to build more parking here? The city didn’t require this level of parking, and the developer had to request a variance to build less than was required. Are you suggesting that central planning is better in this instance?

  37. Legacy Dude’s comment was very funny, but also very interesting. The Elon Musk Hyperloop could really make High Speed Rail look ancient and expensive by comparison. 30 minutes on Hyperloop from L.A. vs. 3 1/2 hours on HSR. Maybe Transbay Terminal will have more than bus traffic after all!

  38. those who want to tell everyone else how to live
    Believe it or not, but you are told “how to live” every day of your life.
    – Traffic lights
    – Speed limits
    – no J-walking laws
    – mandatory schooling
    – having to put on some clothes
    – forbidding you to kill a person you do not like
    – asking for a driving test to drive
    And suggesting a nazi state? LOL.
    Imposing cars per units is a bit rough, but if people do not want to live there, they will not move in. There’s choice. If a developer builds something with 300sf units like Cubix, people who do not wish to live in a place this size will stay away, simple like that. It’s the same thing with parking. Just go somewhere else, and if the building stays empty, the market will have spoken to the Powers that Be, loud and clear.

  39. I agree and am very pleased on how they saved this buildings bones instead of tearing it completely down. Too bad the old hotel on Van Ness wasn’t done the same way where the new hospital will rise.

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