While San Francisco’s Planning Department is recommending the Planning Commission disapprove Starbucks’ plans to take over the retail space at 2201 Market Street, the Department recommends the Commission approve the plans for 101 Polk Street to rise.
As proposed, the Emerald Fund will dig up the 58 space parking lot at 101 Polk Street and construct a 13-story residential tower on the site with 162 rental units over a subterranean garage with space for 51 cars and 62 bikes at the corner of Polk and Hayes.
The building was designed by Solomon Cordwell Buenz & Associates to riff off San Francisco’s City Hall and the adjacent Public Health Building:

While the project would be taller than most buildings in the adjacent historic district at 13 stories in height, the project is not anticipated to overwhelm adjacent district contributors, which are monumental in scale and physically substantial in appearance and design.

The proposed project design will have a textured façade utilizing a combination of glazed and solid materials along with recesses, change of materials, and projecting features to appropriately reference the characteristics of the adjacent district (click image to enlarge).

Materials at the base of the project will have a weighted, rusticated treatment to
reference similar treatments in the adjacent district.

The base will be capped with a slightly projecting belt course at roughly the same height of a similar feature on the adjacent Public Health Building. This feature breaks-up the mass of the building with a horizontal feature and references the tripartite organization of buildings in the district.

Assuming approvals and a 2014 start, the building would be ready for occupancy in 2016.
Towering Polk Street Plans: 13 Stories And 162 New Rental Units [SocketSite]
The Designs For 2201 Market Street And Great Starbucks Divide [SocketSite]

16 thoughts on “Polk Street Tower Up For Approval And The Story Behind The Design”
  1. Without that diagram I’d never know that this new building imitates features of City Hall.

  2. Architecture firms must hire staffers with degrees in rhetoric or something similar to write these descriptions up. If that design “riff[s] off San Francisco’s City Hall and the adjacent Public Health Building”, than any building anywhere can be said to reference any other building feature in any city.
    That said, a residential tower with a 3 apartment-to-parking space ratio, with the parking underground, is a heck of a lot higher, better use of precious real estate than a surface level parking lot, of which there are still amazingly many in S.F.
    If I were on the planning commission I would enthusiastically vote to approve this project.

  3. Nice! This vacant corner has been a gap in the Civic Center for as long as I can remember. About time that something was built there, and a very tasteful addition at that.
    @Milkshake – obviously the imitations were intended to be so subtle that the building would fit in to its surroundings without your ever realizing why. 😉

  4. That said, a residential tower…
    This is not a tower. It’s a 13 story midrise. Tower should only be used for actual highrises, something like 200′ or more.

  5. Handsome addition to the area. Probably won’t win any awards, but it really maintains the classy aesthetic of the area and ties the plaza together with other nearby developments.

  6. rusticated, I like that word… I assumed it was either made up, or had something to do with a faux rust look, but it actually is the term for the beveled masonry look at the bottom of the tower.
    You learn something every day!
    I definitely like the building and thinks it makes a lot of sense for that location.

  7. I like it too, yet hope the ground floor houses some kind of interesting retail/dining as a distraction for its residents going from unit to garage.
    Let’s hope the same height sentiment carries over to western SOMA a few blocks south.

  8. The Argenta should have been taller (and less “valued engineered” as we all need fear this will be by the time it’s built) but as a transition from the Civic Center complex to the taller buildings at Polk & Market this is fine. And I like the actual design, if, as I said, it doesn’t get radically cheapened by the time it’s built.

  9. I guess “rusticated” refers to brick or stone or faux brick or stone.
    Ugh. This architectural lingo gets more painful with each new building description.

  10. rusticated may be a new term for non-architects, but it’s a descriptive and well understood term to architects/design folks. There’s not really anything “lingo” about it.

  11. General Question: With so many apartments being constructed, and so many in the pipeline, will there ever be an abbundance of housing? Or will folks who currently live in the East Bay/ Peninsula move up to take up these units? Seems like the City is building a lot of housing all at once.

  12. “Materials at the base of the project will have a weighted, rusticated treatment to reference similar treatments in the adjacent district.” I also don’t get how this “references” City Hall or the DPH building. It looks a lot like the Madrone in Mission Bay to me.

  13. Seems like the City is building a lot of housing all at once.
    Not really, when you take a look at the big picture. There are maybe 10,000 units that will be completed over the next few years, which will result in only a 2.5% or so increase in the overall housing stock. In a city that has routinely seen double digit annual percentage increases in rent over the last few decades, that’s really a tiny drop in the bucket. We’d need to see hundreds of towers going up to likely see a real dent in long term price trends.

  14. I’m not even an architect, but I learned about rusticated stone in a freshman-level art history class. No reason to be so snarky about it. This building is modern like the stuff in Mission Bay, but it specifically adheres to the “classical” design system of podium-shaft-cornice, similar to the Beaux Arts buildings around it.

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