Foster + Partners will team with Heller Manus Architects to re-design the two towers to rise at First and Mission. The two million square foot project includes an 850-foot office tower fronting First Street and a 605-foot condominium tower fronting Mission.


The existing 88 First Street building on the corner between the two towers to rise will be renovated rather than razed for a third tower as was previously proposed.

As we first reported last year, the 850-foot tower will contain 1,220,000 square feet of office space over ground-floor retail with a garage for up to 187 cars while the 605-foot tower will contain up to 500 residential units over ground-floor retail and a five-level subterranean parking garage for 136 cars.

From Lord Foster, Founder and Chairman of Foster + Partners, with respect to the project, the condominium portion of which will be taller than any residential project on the West Coast:

The First and Mission towers are incredibly exciting in urban and environmental terms bringing together places to live and work with the city’s most important transport hub, the project further evolves a sustainable model of high density, mixed-use development that we have always promoted.

The 605-foot residential tower reflects the scale of San Francisco’s existing tall buildings, while the 850-foot hotel, residential and office tower rises above it as a symbol of this new vertical city quarter. The super-sized office floor plates will give tenants a high degree of flexibility, and their open layout is supported by an innovative orthogonal structural system developed for seismic stability.

The point where the towers touch the ground is as important as their presence on the skyline. At ground level, the buildings are open, accessible and transparent their base provides a new ‘urban room’ for the region, and the new pedestrian routes through the site will knit the new scheme with the urban grain of the city.

TMG Partners and Northwood Investors paid $122 million for the Transbay site known as 50 First Street in bankruptcy court. A collection of seven parcels, David Choo had originally proposed to build a quartet of slender towers designed by Renzo Piano rising up to 1,200 feet on the site.

36 thoughts on “Foster + Partners Tapped For Two Towers At First And Mission”
  1. Didn’t another developer just buy the building at 84 1st Street? How will that affect the design?
    [Editor’s Note: The 84 First Street parcel was never part of the development site.]

  2. I didn’t know this firm by name (I’m not really up on these things), but a quick Google image search shows that they’ve done some really interesting and notable projects in London, Berlin, and NYC. Some of my favorite buildings as a casual observer, in fact.
    Very exciting. Any idea how long it would take for designs to be released?

  3. This statement of its tallest residential in the west coast is not true. 181 Fremont is a taller residential building, although it is mixed use rather than pure condo which is where I think the confusion rests.

  4. Foster does great work, but I liked the schematic design that was thrown around for the permitting (such as above) 🙁

  5. so will that narrow and skanky Elim street be deleted completely? Seems like that’s the narrowest street in SF
    [Editor’s Note: From our overview of the project last year: “As part of the project, Jessie Street would be rerouted and the portion of Tower One that spans the existing Jessie Street route would be converted into a three-story public galleria (Jessie Street Galleria); Elim Alley would be converted to a two-story galleria with lobby and retail uses (Elim Alley Galleria); and a public plaza would sit at the base of Tower Two.”]

  6. If the original site had 1200′ towers planned is there any hope to get a similar height increase for this project? Or was that height never approved?

  7. Up top this post says “the 850-foot tower will contain 1,220,000 square feet of office space over ground-floor retail with a garage” but then the quote from Foster + Partners calls it an “850-foot hotel, residential and office tower”. I hope the latter part is correct and we get residential in the tall tower.

  8. It’s encouraging to see our commitment to a true mixed-use neighborhood. Glad to see the residential happening in FiDi & environs.
    Now how about the reverse by envisioning a few mid-town business districts where offices/start-ups and such can flourish — thinking of the Stonestown wasteland, and the Geary/Masonic mess — both offer major dev opportunities to create more business/office development in the core of our city — and within easy walk/bike/transit to many residential areas.

  9. But where will the pigeons meet up now?! that fenced off lot has one of the most concentrated amount of pigeons I’ve seen in the city.

  10. @Dan: you have to remember that Vancouver is more progressive than SF in so many ways. (Sorry SF, pushing for Meatless Mondays doesn’t make you the least bit progressive.)
    I live near Stonestown and it is indeed a wasteland, caught up in the west side suburban planning after WWII. There is so much potential for smart growth here, including putting the M-line underground along 19th Ave to improve transit speed and connections. For a city clammering to add housing, this would be an ideal spot not just for that, but for commercial development as well. Think Vancouver. Think Ballston in Arlington, VA. Think outside the box, SF.

  11. @Invented: Geary/Masonic could use a facelift, in the range of 6 stories. It’s so unfortunate that BART never built a line under Geary (we know why, so that’s not up for debate) in order to seize the opportunity to turn a major commercial corridor into something more than a 50s strip mall. Come on, even LA has realized its planning mistakes of the past and is on board to making drastic improvements and changes.

  12. geary corridor worse sprawl than anywhere in LA. such a waste of space. Geary BART should be #1 transit project for SF and all funds should go to that. Save the bike lane project funds and put in the geary fund.
    then the whole geary corridor from Van Ness to 25th should be 5-6 flrs

  13. @Jill: I totally agree about Geary needing transit upgrade priority (aka, BART). BRT will do nothing to improve transit to the western section of the city.

  14. What’s up SF?? Its surprisngly encouraging to hear announcements about such world class design architects being tapped for new SF towers – including this Foster project as well as the recent OMA tower (and to a bit lesser extent, the Jeanne Gang announcement).
    The plan drawing above is suggestive of a (less elegant) version of MAD’s Absolute Towers outside Toronto http://www.archdaily.com/306566/absolute-towers-mad-architects/ – an amazing residential tower design (arguably on a whole other level of curvaceous beauty beyond Gang’s Aqua Tower) that seemed miles beyond anything we’d be seeing any time soon in SF…

  15. Those towers are hideous. Amorphous architecture is a horrible trend, much like brutalism. Stick with Freemasons ideology. Symmetry is better.

  16. Yes symmetry and it’s 10,000+ year history in architecture is dead *rolls eyes* and not some decade (or less) trend of what appears to be bowel movements.

  17. SF: The Absolute Towers are far from hideous – their popular nickname is actually the “Marilyn Monroe Tower”, and they are definitely not “amorphous” in any way. In fact they are ordered by a quite rigorously controlled geometry.
    If you want to go back into architecture’s history to validate symmetry, one could also find as much asymmetry as symmetry down that road, as well as many instances of torquing curves such as found in these towers – for example, Art Nouveau or Baroque architecture, or going much further back, how about Solomonic Columns (about 2000 years old)?
    And, “Stick with Freemason’s Ideology”? WTF? Why should anyone “stick with” antiquated Masonic (or any other) ideology for making architecture in the 21st C.?

  18. The note about the tallest residential on the west coast has to be a mistake. The 650′ residential building won’t even be the tallest on this stretch of Mission. That would be Millennium. If they’re talking about the taller building, it’s mixed use — not pure residential — so that claim is rather specious.
    BTW, commenting on the design at this point is, well, pointless. For starters, those were mere outlines that were done by SOM, which has clearly been cast aside. In one sense, that’s a shame because the SOM diagrams had the potential to be gorgeous. On the other, I’m excited to see what Foster comes up with.

  19. I believe the condos will be at the top of the taller tower, so they might be the highest condos from the ground?

  20. Foster is great , maybe best hi rise architect the world, but is doesnt matter any more than Piano did.
    Becuase if the developer still cannot get the corner site, and there is a very low chance of relocating a City of SF street, then this project is doa.
    the lobby (s), parking, loading, floor plate functionality etc etc just dont work.
    the failure of the original developer choo to assemble the land correctly is a fatal flaw.
    better to buy the corner form the new buyer for whatever $$ required – probably 30 MIL – and dig out of that hole which is “only” a cost — than to try to move this as-is.
    SOM is a very good architect and understood the limits and functional impairments. Norman can do different facades a slightly different massing, but that doesn’t make lemons into lemonade.

  21. ^But I thought the basic outlines of the SOM proposal had already been approved – that basically Foster’s been hired to re-design the SOM buildings, but their footprints, heights, etc. had already been approved. Are you saying that’s not the case?
    [Editor’s Note: The project has yet to be approved. As linked above and we first reported last year: “Having been on hold for a few years, the plans for a few big towers to rise at First and Mission, a.k.a. the 50 First Street site, have been reworked and resubmitted to Planning.”]

  22. I agree with citicritter and will take balance over boring symmetry any day. Balanced, asymmetrical designs aren’t a recent fad. There’s centuries of history in the art and architectural world.

  23. There is no current approval to vacate Jessie Street, and open a new curb cut along “transit-rich” Mission Street, which is what this plan is entirely dependent upon. Best of luck to TMG however.

  24. @Dan
    I grew up in Vancouver and that Oakdridge development could never happen in SF. It’s also in a very upscale pricey neighborhood unlike Stonestown. Vancouver truly believes in smart dense urban planning.

  25. paulgoldberger: “Vancouver’a bottom line: no city has a better commitment to urbanism (and nature), but still, it’s hard not to yearn for more architecture.”
    Haven’t been to Vancouver but makes me wonder if the buildings there are interchangeable like much of ours.
    (Is there anything in Mission Bay that would look out of place in Anycity, N. America?)

  26. Foster is probably best known for the “gherkin” building in London. I am not sure that would be the appropriate food for SF. How about an avocado or perhaps an organically-grown carrot?

  27. I think there’s a dreary sameness to downtown Vancouver’s residential high rises. They all seem to have identical facades of a cold, reflective glass that looks especially unwelcoming on winter days. Did the city’s architectural codes mandate that sort of appearance?

  28. The Foster project is not part of the Transbay project.

    Ceasar Pelli is the design architect of the Transbay Terminal and Tower. The Transbay Tower(Salesforce Tower) will be the tallest building west of the Mississippi River until LA finishes their tower.

    181 Fremont is and will be the tallest mixed use building west of the Mississippi river, until this Foster building is built. The Foster buildings local architect is also the design architect for 181. both buildings are over 800′ but the Foster one is slightly taller with the residential in the tallest most part of the building for obvious reasons of cost of condos.

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