One Van Ness Site

A 400-foot tower which was tentatively dubbed “One Van Ness” is still proposed to rise on the northwest corner of Market and Van Ness, but as a plugged-in reader noted last week on our piece about an adjacent project in the works, it’s no longer Richard Meier’s design which will rise on the site.

And as John King now confirms, Snøhetta has been engaged to take over the design of the development project which was recently acquired by Build Inc. along with GTIS Partners.

Of equal note, the stubby All Star Cafe and doughnut shop on the corner, a previous hold out around which the Meier tower had to be been designed, is now under contract by the development team and should be razed as part of the project.  In addition, the team would like to move and rebuild the existing Muni subway stop on the west side of Van Ness from Market to Oak, on the north side of the project site.

As envisioned, along with the new subway station, an Oak Street public plaza would be constructed at the base of the development, with retail along the streets and around 300 condos in the tower above.

Having designed SFMOMA’s new addition, Snøhetta is currently working on the design for the Golden State Warriors new Arena in Mission Bay.  One Van Ness will be the Norwegian firm’s first U.S. tower project.

28 thoughts on “All Star Cafe Doomed, New Architect For Prominent 400-Foot Tower”
  1. Thank Flying Spaghetti Monster, the All Star Cafe will be gone! Looking forward to seeing their design – I hope it’s something new and exciting, like what they’re offering up in Europe and the Middle East, not a barely-ornamented glass box like some of their more recent offerings here.

  2. Today’s column in the Chronicle states that the revised plans won’t be up for approval until next fall! Incredible that this project in such a vital location has taken so many long years to come to fruition.

  3. I’m excited for this! Even though I liked the old design I am very excited to see what Snohetta does with the cite. By no means will they be able to come up with a design that is just as spectacular, if not more than the old proposal. I am also very excited to see how the Van Ness Station will look like, that station has been in need of a makeover for sometime now.

  4. Snohetta seems to be actively considering the proposal a bit more thoroughly, via the SF Gate article—transit connected plaza, retail…etc. Much more excited for this, than the Meier deal.

  5. 400 feet is tall enough, and a slender tower will enhance the feel of height. Though it is a real eyesore, and a mystery how such a business can endure in such a prime location, I find the ugly old structure there oddly endearing and think it would be hilarious to see if Snohetta could integrate it into a new building. — Anyway, it is still a long trek from a finished product.

    1. Agree that in theory, the existing donut building could be integrated into a nice varied and vibrant streetscape, much as midtown Manhattan glass towers on the avenues abut brick townhouses on the streets. But given the wind issues, need for open space (plaza), etc., I think it’d be incredibly difficult to build a tower while keeping the donut shop in existence. (And even in those varied Manhattan (or Boston, etc.) streetscapes, it’d be unusual to see a landmark corner such as this one occupied by a 2-story donut shop, instead of the larger new building with an older storefront down the block.)

    2. The previous proposal mentioned something about offering to pay to reclad the donut shop to match the new building. I was always really curious to see what this would look like, but I guess we’ll never know. And I agree- I walk past the donut shop every day and generally hate it, but it is oddly endearing as this run down little bastion of pastries in the midst of the market/van ness insanity.

  6. Superb choice of an architect to move this project forward. One of the best and most thoughtful firms on the planet today.

  7. I am dismayed to see the Meier design scrapped. Hopefully the Snohetta design will not be a cold iceberg like the addition to the Museum of Modern Art. And yes, glad to see the crappy doughnut building go. It will be interesting to see how the Muni station looks. I live in the neighborhood so I have a special interest in how the corner will look.

    1. Some people might’ve called the Meier design a “cold” glass and steel tower, etc etc. I’m not one of them of course, and I loved the previous design as well. Snohetta seems like they are putting a lot of thought into making a complete proposal (not just the building, but also the context and connections, etc), so here’s hoping that what they create is visually unique and appropriate to the site. Also, I agree that the MOMA expansion is icebergish, but I think it works nicely in context (Mario Botta’s brick). Finally, I always felt bad for the sad little donut shop standing all alone in the chaotic intersection, but I’m very glad to hear that the lot will be incorporated into the proposal.

  8. Great news all around, and godspeed to this project. I walk past the donut shop every day, and do a slalom around the homeless as I round the corner on my way to the Van Ness MUNI stop.

  9. It was a lie that the donut shop owner was unresponsive and would not sell propagated by the sleaze bag former developer so he could bamboozle the Planning Department into allowing him to build with out it, like a carbuncle on his Richard Meier building. There has be an available sign on the little building for several years. The new developer will buy and level the building and incorporate the space in the public area around their new design. A great step forward for that key corner.

  10. No mention of SCB anywhere on Socketsite, but it’s in the SFGate article. I think it’s important to give credit to them as well.

  11. “While the design will change, the height will remain within the current 400-foot zoning for the corner.”

    Uh… does that mean it will be shorter?

    1. The frieze should also include a “deli sandwich” made of wonder bread, Hormel sliced ham, and American cheese. Extra points if the ham can be rendered with an iridescent sheen so that it appears to glisten green from one angle, red from another, and then blue.

      1. ROFLOL. You should either become an artist yourself, or open a “New California Food Concepts” restaurant chain!

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