One Oak Plaza Rendering

A plugged-in source delivers the first detailed rendering and description of the 19,000-square-foot public plaza which could transform the intersection of Market and Van Ness, at the base of the proposed 39-story tower dubbed One Oak (formerly One Van Ness), where the stubby All Star Cafe currently sits.

From the architects of the project, Snøhetta (plaza) and SCB (tower):

The Plaza will be both an important public space along the Market St. corridor, and a neighborhood and building amenity. For travelers, it will provide a place for pause and relaxation. For the neighborhood and tower residents, it will be an outdoor living room with formal and informal events, cafe dining, retail kiosks, and a small amphitheater. The plaza floor is comprised of two types of surfaces – a carpet of paving stones subdivided by a series of monolithic site cast concrete pads that move freely between the interior and exterior spaces. The dual system, along with raised planters and seating elements, creates cues for pedestrian circulation and programmatic zoning.

Below grade detailing will allow for storm-water detention and irrigation reuse, as well as ecologically sound soil volumes to support lush vegetation. The planting of the plaza largely draws from California’s rich flora with a few, key non-native additions proven to thrive in urban conditions. For instance, London plane trees line the Market Street side of the site offering their shade to the retail and restaurant spaces. A storm-water garden features native fern species and bald cypress. The remainder of the plantings draw from the coastal bluffs and dune lands of California for both drought and wind tolerant species of grasses, trees, perennials, and low-lying shrubs.

The wind mitigation strategy was inspired by a forest canopy. Designed as a light, porous, multi-layered surface, the “canopy” is continuous from the interior where it functions as the support for a retail mezzanine, to the exterior where it provides wind protection for the Plaza. The faceted canopy surfaces are supported on shaped concrete columns which rise from the plaza surface. The canopy references organic structures which have a perceived level of irregularity while actually being sculptural yet ordered by a fundamental set of geometric and physical laws; lending itself to a series of repeatable components.

The rendering above includes the proposed relocation of the existing MUNI escalator and stairs along Market Street, enclosing the MUNI entrance under an amphitheater enclosure, connecting to the existing platform below.

One Oak Plaza Muni Entrance

[T]he new enclosure is designed to provide a visual signal for commuters and a clear connectivity with the proposed BRT stop on Van Ness Avenue. Materially tied to the ground plane when viewed from the west, the “roof” of the entry rises up from the plaza to become amphitheater style seating, completing the active retail/gathering/performance zone. At the street side, the roof of the entry relates to the materiality and detailing of the canopies, while extending below grade to create a distinct and iconic environment for travelers entering the space of the Plaza. Skylights allow natural light to penetrate the below grade circulation.

The enclosed entrance to the MUNI station could be locked at night. And at the base of 25 Van Ness, along the northern edge of the Plaza, a series of portable retail kiosks could be deployed, “to activate that side of the street and provide additional retail opportunity.”

32 thoughts on “First Peek at Plaza Which Could Transform Market at Van Ness”
  1. Is it just me, or does the design slightly resemble an iteration of 100 Van Ness before the recladding?

      1. that’s a good thing, because 100 Van Ness was much more handsome before it became the awful ominous dark sterile glass box it is today. At least the building before was light in color on the skyline and had some depth, texture and shadow on the façade. It actually looks more like a corporate office building now than it did before.

  2. Awesome. Wonder if it will ever be built. After 10 years of reviews, law suits, community meetings and design changes, there’s a 50:50 chance it won’t, or worse, it could end up like the United Nations Plaza–a homeless shelter.

    1. It will most definitely be a homeless shelter.
      The “amphitheater seating”? Homeless bunks. The canopy? Homeless will be tucked inside it all day, even if it is locked up at night. This whole thing reads like something built for a different city without the homeless problem we have.

      For a preview of what this will look like in real life, see UN Plaza, or the fountain near Justin Herman Plaza.

      1. They need to replace just about everyone in the rendering with a vagrant. I don’t think it will top UN Plaza because this design lacks bathing facilities (the fountain), but at least it will provide toilet facilities (stairs and escalator).

      2. Except being private property, security guards can and will keep the homeless moving along. (And even for those areas that are public or quasi-public, such as the Muni entrance, the private security guards can create an atmosphere that discourages homeless – e.g., patrols, inquiries, etc.)

        1. Right. I see MUNI security on patrol all the time at entrances, mezzanines, platforms, and on trains. Private security guards are paid to guard private property, not MUNI property.

          1. You clearly didn’t read my comment. I said private security would keep the private part of the plaza clear, and could also create an environment that not conducive to homeless at the adjacent stop. It’s quite feasible for private security to do so, if it preserves and protects the character of the private development and doesn’t break any laws. I never said anything about MUNI security. (Is there even such a thing?)

  3. A large place to congregate will attract the homeless regardless of whether multi-million dollar condos are a stone’s throw away. That’s how it is in SF.

    All subway station entrances should have canopies (which can be locked after hours). DC Metro did this in the late 90s when escalators kept breaking down because of the elements. There is one currently under construction at 19th/Broadway outside of BART. Finally.

  4. It seems silly to block the plaza with that structure. The vast majority of the people coming out of MUNI are going to have to walk around the structure now that they have it facing away from Market St.

  5. Over 100 years ago, Daniel Burnham proposed an enormous traffic circle and plaza for Market and Van Ness.

    In the center of the circle was a gigantic fountain and monument, surrounded by landscaped plaza with various types of seating, then a wide boulevard and traffic circle similar to some of the plazas on Paseo de la Reforma in Mexico City or at the Arc de Triomphe de l’Étoile (Place Charles de Gaulle) in Paris. The outer ring of the plaza design had wide tree shaded sidewalks with enough space between street and buildings for outdoor cafes and public art. This plaza, along with a similar monument and public plaza at the Ferry Building, would have allowed San Francisco to become as European as so many wished it was.

    Part of the popularity Chicago enjoys as a city is because of their early adaption of many parts of Daniel Burnham’s plan for their city which recreated their entire waterfront as a public space with parks and museums, surrounded by broad landscaped boulevards with wide sidewalks, decorative bridges and towering architecture. Burnham’s plans provided for pedestrians to have attractive abundant space, but he also did not ignore the need to allow vehicle traffic to flow easily through the city as well, so instead of excluding traffic from plazas, he made it part of the celebration of urban space as he felt it added to the dynamic energy of city life.

  6. This looks like a birds nest made of toothpicks. And leave the other entrance alone. Two is better than one.

  7. A public plaza at this location will be UN Plaza, part 2: a filthy homeless hang-out and drugs/stolen goods bazaar. San Francisco cannot seem to have public spaces to which this doesn’t happen because of our refusal to enforce standards of public decorum. But given that is how it is, I’d just rather not build more upkeep/maintenance/law enforcement problem areas. I’d rather see this busy intersection kept what it is: A busy intersection that doesn’t especially invite people to hang out.

  8. Hmmm. Perhaps all the attention to the Plaza is because the building itself is so dreadful–I agree it looks like the cladding of the AAA building which was redone. Then BUILD is not known for interesting architecture–just knowing how to get around City laws.

    Why not adapt Meyer, then the homeless can enjoy the plaza

  9. The pic of people relaxing and milling about is just laughable! This corner is a wind-swept sewer and given SF tolerance on vagrants it will only become worse.

  10. Shame on you folks commenting about the bums who hang out at Market & Van Ness. You will certainly hurt the feelings of the social services folks who coddle and protect those crazies :>)

  11. The comments here are a symphony for the apathetic from the latest crop of nouveau rich. What a bunch of self-centered brats. You embarrass yourselves. I can hardly wait for this most startup bubble to bust so you can all go back to wherever you came from.

    1. FYI, I’m from the early 80s crop of nouveau riche. Not the group who renovated so many of the Victorians before they fell down but just after those. And I ain’t goin’ nowhere.

      But guess what: San Francisco has tipped over the edge and the remaining poor folks are hanging on to the roofs over their heads by their finger nails. Before the bubble bursts they will be either homeless or gone and what happens then when the rest of us start electing people who refuse to pay for all the services they want and now get?

  12. As a resident of Market and Van Ness I am appalled at the lack of consideration for people who “live” near this corner. The scale is such that it will be overwhelmed by people day and night. During the day it will be workers and tourists who throw there garbage on the sidewalks and show little respect for the area. Which is what happens now. During the night it will be hallucinating poor homeless folks who populate the streets now. As residents of SF if you live anywhere near what people perceive as “Public Space” you lose all rights to a quiet calm environment. If the city planning department allows living spaces to be built in an area the city should have the responsibility to make sure all designs take into consideration folks that live in the area.

    They do this in any other neighborhood in the city as expected by its residents. Not so when iit comes to “Public Space.” Residents are told they just have to tolerate it.

    Given we have no standards for public behaviour I am sure the area will quickly become the sh!t hole it is now but with seating and planters. I guess it’s better then what we have now in the area.

    I also would like to correct some perceptions of the commentors about who lives in the area. I have been in SF since 1976. Many of the folks in the area have been there for many years. We are not the Noveau Riche that some like to think we are. That kind of label just flattens us out and takes away our humanity. I guess it makes it easier to hate someone when you do that. I guess I would just ask that folks remember this is a neighborhood and not just and intersection. Lots of us call it home and it is not just a place we pass through or hang out at lunch in. And yes I agree the design does resemble the AAA building. How ironic.

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