San Francisco’s Transbay Tower has shed its early 101 First Street address in favor of 415 Mission Street and is being positioned as a “vertical campus” with 61 floors of flexible floor plans designed to “attract genius,” a positioning at least one reader can’t help but think is ingeniously designed to attract one tenant in particular.

39 thoughts on “The 61-Story Vertical Campus Rising At 415 Mission Street”
  1. Nice touch on the “415” address.
    Anyone else suggestive “erticle” at the 35 second mark along with the tip of the bldg imagery?
    Happy Friday.

  2. Interesting “vertical campus” terminology being thrown around. Part of me hopes this is angling for Google, which would mean they are still in the running, but of course it’s probably a generalized marketing strategy. One can hope.

  3. Really? Why would you give up a clean (mentally and typgraphically) “101 First” to go for a middling “415 Mission”?
    Agree 100% about Google. I’m still holding out for a surprise announcement that they’re going to add a few floors back in (and beat that Korean Air billboard in L.A.) as part of a deal.

  4. 415, like in 415 area code. Especially since 415 will soon go the way of 310: more exclusive and very hard to get.
    Yes, they should add a few floors. And make sure there’s some kind of rail system arriving actually underneath the Transbay Terminal, lol.

  5. I could care less about beating LA, LA is at least 5 times bigger than we are, and a hugely bigger metro. Its about time LA starts building up, Hollywood should be 2-3x as dense as it currently is for instance.
    If theyre gonna add floors just to pass another building, then meh, but if they can somehow shoehorn in a substantial amount of floors Im all for it.
    I guess I dont much care either way really.

  6. 25,000 SF is not shabby. It is slightly larger than transamerica’s base. Otherwise, “vertical campus” is just a marketing ploy. There is no difference from other high rise architecture. No atrium, open staircase or anything that really connect the different floors.

  7. Despite the floor size, Transbay Tower still beats Mission Bay for me. The location, transit, the view is unbeatable. The only other site that I think would fit for a giant campus is for them to build the GooglePlex SF in Pier 70. It has lot more character and historical significance that the vacant land in Mission Bay.

  8. Yes, the term “vertical campus” is a nod to something big brewing and not a random marketing term. It’s all being staged for a forthcoming announcement. Watch what happens. (imo)

  9. If Google gets the place I hope they decide to add a few floors to the building, which is the same thing Saleforce did with 350 Mission.

  10. The building seems taller than I expected – the shot showing both Transbay and Millenium, for example. I’m thinking either this is the old rendering, before the height was cut, or maybe something’s in the works…

  11. Perfectly positioned over a $2B bus depot for the Google bus to load and unload its worker bees. Transit my a**. Caltrain extension has been pushed back, HSR is generations away and wait… there are no underground passageways to even connect to existing MUNI/BART on Market St. Only in San Francisco…

  12. “…there are no underground passageways…”
    What’s wrong with using the sidewalk?
    The real problem isn’t lack of tunnels, it is simply the distance to the Market St. transit corridor.

  13. Google Maps shows 1st and Mission as a 6 minute walk from both the Embarcadero and Montgomery BART stations. High speed rail/Caltrain extension aside, that’s about as good for transit as you could hope for in SF. Which I know isn’t much.

  14. Um, Mission St. is the next main street down from Market. If you think that’s too far to walk, then transit isn’t for you.
    The main problem IMHO is the lack of Caltrain access.
    BTW, anyone notice how congested the freeways have become over the past year?

  15. Tokyo has the best transit system in the world but connecting from the Metro to a regional train at the Shinjuku Station can require a 10-12 minute walk with lots of stairs. So let’s not complain about a 1-block walk like they might do in Indianapolis or Oklahoma City.

  16. Vertical campus? For a tech co like google? Does that make sense?
    When I worked in tech years ago in silly valley, it seems all co’s were into 1-2 story flat bldgs. It sounds like goog peeps will be spending an inordinate amount of time in elevators. Tech work is highly interactive, I’m having trouble seeing this being effective, but maybe some of youze have direct experience and can comment.

  17. As far as the freeways getting more congested, I don’t think thats true based on some report I read recently, probably on streetsblog.
    That said, if the solution is caltrain then we are in bad shape. Caltrain is already standing room only for the after work trains at any time between 5-6:30

  18. My time in Silicon Valley was characterized by 10 minute walks across campus, or driving between multiple campuses spread spread across a 4 or 5 mile area. One month I was running a complex experimental process that required cycling between multiple buildings on multiple campuses. After running 126 experiments to get a result, I filed an expense report for hundreds of miles of travel.
    An elevator trip doesn’t sound too bad.
    I was in the semiconductor world, which is a bit different than software.

  19. poor.ass.millionaire – My employer has a couple thousand people distributed across a half dozen buildings. Most of my face-to-face interactions are with people in my department who reside on one floor. To visit someone else requires about a 5-10 minute walk to another building.
    However most of my interaction isn’t face-to-face but rather over the phone with our offices around the world.
    I don’t see an elevator in a tall building as being an impediment compared to the sprawling campus of two story buildings.

  20. I should also mention that many of our high-tech suppliers and customers from Japan, China, and Korea work in high-rises already.
    The main reason that Silicon Valley offices are so low is because land, cars, and gasoline was cheap. Those economics are changing and now the original one and two story office buildings are being replace by 5-7 story buildings.

  21. As I mentioned above, I used to live in Silicon Valley. We assume far too often that transit systems make sense to people unaccustomed to them. A lot of people in the South Bay don’t even know SF has a subway. That may have changed a bit with the rise in public transit education, but still, public transit is uniquely a dense urban activity, at least for the affluent.
    It’s important to have things like tunnels connecting our transit systems, to make them a unified whole, separate from the outside world. For a lot of people, the hard part isn’t walking an extra block, it’s coming upstairs, figuring out where to go, getting confused, going the wrong way, and asking 3 people for directions. For most suburbanites, they take a deep breath and get on the train and really don’t want to have to exit the system. Now for a muni connection, most of the users are local, but if we’re talking about a Bart to HSR connection, we better have them really connected. With giant signs. And lots of them.
    Come to think of it, even if the transit point ultimately do involve walking above ground, we should just paint the connector sidewalks colors. We should do anything we can to make it feel like these things are working together and didn’t just fall from the sky in some random configuration.

  22. @ frog – good points all. I think of Boston, where there are (well used) underground connections between several stations – I have no doubt that T ridership is higher because people don’t have to go up, exit, re-enter, and go back down.
    Re: vertical campus – in addition to the points above about the time it takes to negotiate a suburban-style campus, I’m sure that the judicious use of open stairwells between floors (I think you can connect 3 under the current fire code) and “sky lobbies” would help create the open, random-interaction feel for which tech companies.

  23. @poor.ass.millionaire, tech companies prefer large floor plan because the believe is it encourage collaboration. The most extreme case is Apple’s spaceship. Highrises, even if you call it “vertical campus”, is less desirable in this regard. But floor size is just one factor. It need not be a deal breaker. Salesforce is a clear example. Consider many other plus from the Transbay location, I’m not surprise if they score a banner tenant like Google.
    25,000 ft is actually comparable to a good size suburban lowrise. Also people are pack much tighter in San Francisco. Most offices I have visited has one desk space per employee, compare to a cubicle space that’s typically 2-3 times in suburb. But it cannot compare to mega office like Apple or Facebook’s.

  24. High-rises can be A-OK. I previously worked in the Texas Medical Center, a huge complex with over 54 institutions — hospitals, medical schools, nursing schools, universities, etc. Buildings range from 6 to 30 stories, with the core area being about 1 square mile. Modern medical research is intensely collaborative, requiring cooperation between basic science, clinical research, commercial development, etc. Anyway, it was a great environment. Far superior to disconnected, isolated suburban campuses…

  25. Another good idea is from San Francisco Federal Building. Have the elevator stop every 3 floors. Use open staircases to connect 1 floor up and 1 floor down. This will give people lot more reason to mingle.

  26. Ok, you guys convinced me! High rise not so bad. I vaguely remember my days at the Sun (aka “the network is the computer”; good going Sun, just 15 years too soon 🙂 I was at the jail like Menlo campus (FB now). I guess a well designed high rise will be more or less similar wrt employee interactions.
    As for the addie, I’m 415 Mission all the way! It’s hipper, implies you’re on a mission, and references a well know neighborhood. The 101 1st is soulless corp dreck IMO.
    It will be killer if Google makes a big move like that. I can’t imagine mayor Lee will not be willing to lend a helping hand. But I guess those google bus protesters will bust a nut! Google out of the mission; ha ha, Google will soon own the Mission! (And in the process make me one happy LL; always nice standing in the path of progress 🙂 Peace out.

  27. Why would Mayor Lee need to get involved? He just show up at office opening for photo ops. I honestly don’t see how the city government can take any credit. Business is booming on its own and it has little to do with the city government. Virgin America is one of the rare case when I think government take an active role in attracting business.

  28. There was the city corp tax issue with twitter. Would google have to pay that? Is it just accepted as part of doing biz in the city?
    I think the mayor will need to weigh in on this, as google/tech is a hot topic, and contradicts his affordable homes issue (basically wealthy tech can afford to live here, at the peril of all the cheap rent control hanger ons.) I know it’s bullshit, but trust me, there will be a flood of activists and stupidvisors railing against this. It will become political big time. I just hope it comes to fruition.

  29. Not sure what is city corp tax. If you mean city payroll tax, it is already going away. Also Google already has more than 1000 employees in SF, making it one of the largest tech company in the city today. It is not like the city need to go out of way to lurk a outside company into the SF.
    In my opinion the payroll tax issue is a farce anyway. It primary benefit one single large office building, the Twitter building. The highrise offices on both side of Twitter are excluded from the zone. But they get filled by tech anyway. The 1% tax was never a issue to tech companies. Otherwise they will not be so stupid to start the company in SF in the first place. Twitter moving out of SF is a manufactured story. Who in their right mind wants to move to Brisbane? In the few years since the story broke I have not heard they landed any significant tech tenant in Sierra Point. This is in great contrast to the red hot SF market.

  30. If the tower is to be completely taken by Google, then I guess this would mean the Google buses would reverse? Pick up employees in the valley and shuttle them to the tower? The we’d have all the SF Google employees taking Muni to the tower, which is perfectly fine. No more Google buses roaming the neighborhoods (but of course, there would still be those Apple, FB, & Yahoo buses…)
    Also, if there is/was to be a sweetheart deal between the city and a company with deep pockets such as Google, then I’d love to see the company pick up the tab for the Caltrain extension to the terminal. I know, not cheap, but Google just dropped $3.2B (in cash; just 5% of its cash reserves) on Nest…

  31. Google won’t go to the TB Tower. I do hope they find a different set of anchors, though. Google is really bent on building a Mission Bay campus to house ~8,000 employees, but this is in limbo if the NIMBYs who are anti-Warriors arena or anything built on the waterfront get their way. This would solve the Google bus issue, though Google makes up a minority percentage of busses flying around town at this point.
    Also, 415 Mission is cute, but that’s it. Nothing sounds better to me than the Transbay Tower. San Francisco office buildings are a sea of addresses, even the BofA building is referred to as 555 Cal. Really only the Transamerica Pyramid and the Millennium Tower are commonly referred to by their actual names. 101 1st would also be cute, for tech, but cute only.
    Finally, there definitely need to be underground connections from the Transbay to BART/Muni. I’ve never been to a great transit city that didn’t have an underground pathway network. Paris and London for example. This is one underground connection, not a network. I don’t know why they can’t figure out how to budget and engineer a pedestrian path into the mix. That would make too much sense for American transit systems, though.

  32. I stand by my assertion from November that Google is not moving its campus to SF. That’s just noise. Here’s what they will likely support in SF:
    – Some sales and operations people
    – Engineering projects that engineers don’t want to work on (the SF location is the perk to get engineers to work on them)
    – Google Ventures incubator space

  33. Nobody says Google is moving to SF. The rumor in question is that they are going to make a large office lease in SF, much like they have offices all around the world. If they lease the entire Transbay building, it still cannot rival their New York office, let alone the Mountain View headquarter.

  34. I thought the speculation is that they may move their headquarters to SF, to the TB bldg. or Mission Bay. Now that would be a big deal. Just renting out more sq ft, pfff, what’s the big deal? And yeah, mayor Lee wouldn’t give a sh¡t about that, but I bet you can get him to do the chicken dance to have Google’s HQ in the city.

  35. An HQ can also be somewhat symbolic, since it can just be a mailing address. Google can still keep the bulk of their “west coast presence” in Mountain View, but have their “HQ” change address to the city.
    And they do have a recent history of moving into urban cores at scale. Look at what they’ve done in Chicago (
    I heard recently that Google was sniffing around in Dogpatch, and actually made a play for for one of the large, old industrial buildings on 3rd, but the current owner(s) passed on selling. It wouldn’t surprise me at all if they took the TB tower for themselves.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *