Uber Mission Bay Campus Rendering

The design of Uber’s worldwide headquarters to rise in San Francisco’s Mission Bay is off to a rocky start.

According to a plugged-in insider who delivered the rendering and behind the scenes scoop, a conflict between Uber’s team and a Principal at Gensler has caused a shake-up within the architecture firm’s San Francisco office and new Principal is now leading the effort with assistance from Gensler’s office in New York.

As we first reported about Uber’s big plans last year, Uber has teamed with Alexandria Real Estate Equities to develop the two Mission Bay parcels at 1455 and 1515 Third Street, adjacent to the Golden State Warriors arena development that’s in the works. The two parcels are already approved for building up to 423,000 square feet of office space and a key Proposition M office space allocation is already in place.

The development, which will be 51 percent owned by Alexandria and 49 percent by Uber, is slated to become Uber’s worldwide headquarters and the company has committed to a 15-year lease.

As a related aside, if you happen to be the tipster who was trying to anonymously send us the latest designs for a tower that’s in the works, please try again as we never received the attachment. And if you’re ever having trouble with our contact form in general, please feel free to email us directly (tips (at), anonymity guaranteed or credit if requested.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by Memo-san

    I approve.

    Really fresh design and a great addition to that patch of dirt.

  2. Posted by Can't Think of Cool Name

    I generally don’t comment on architecture for various reasons, and I do appreciate what goes into the craft. I had to comment on this rendering. I know its a preliminary pass at the design, but when I initially saw it my very first, top-of-mind thought was “wow, I don’t know if I’d want to approach this building.” Make of it what you will, but that’s what actually happened.

    • Posted by Joshua

      It looks like the perfect setting for a Jason Bourne or Mission Impossible movie.

  3. Posted by BTinSF

    A big improvement over the suburbanesque wasteland that is most of Mission Bay. Yes, it is intimidating, but I’m not sure why a company like Uber would want to have its hive look especially welcoming to bees who aren’t part of the swarm.

  4. Posted by c_q

    hey, is that somewhat-portly-person in the foreground trying to hail a cab in front of uber hq?

    but also, yeah, any building that looks like it belongs in beijing seems to be at home in mission bay, but only mission bay, since anything interesting having been more or less banned in the rest of SF.

    • Posted by 100 PCT Absentee Owner SF ASAP

      That is following the spot-on John King takedown of most SF renderings which previously only featured white techies and their cohorts. Now the massively imaginative minds behind that Gattaca are throwing in suburban mom’s in bad dress. They still don’t get it. And how about the town car in the background. Its uber cheesy.

      • Posted by ElitistPig

        So… designers should be showing vagrants taking a dump on the sidewalk? Maybe someone passed out with a needle in their arm?

    • Posted by Bertie Anglis

      If she is, she’s facing the wrong direction. Poor thing.

  5. Posted by inclinejj

    I wonder if the builders will quote Uber one price, then come back and say, well the real estate market in SF is booming so we are charging a premium and jack them for four times the price?

    • Posted by San Francisco

      I believe the term is “surge pricing”. That would be amazing

    • Posted by Toodles

      Probably, but the will also quote Yellow Cab a fixed price for their new headquarters but never show up because they will be too busy in another part of town.

  6. Posted by invented

    I hope there’s engaging pedestrian/retail on the 3rd street side. It will help minimize the tedium that is 3rd street. I like the exposed spiral staircase.

  7. Posted by R

    Um. Hell yes! I like where this is going. Hopefully this will inspire (perhaps as the very first Snohetta Warriors stadium design did) more designs along this line, to start popping up.

    It’s kind of interesting how Mission Bay—as well as parts of SOMA—are more than likely going to be recognized as being home to the most inspiring architecture in the city, especially knowing that they were/are the most boring, rundown parts of the city currently.

    • Posted by Moto mayhem

      The architecture in mission bay to date Is the most boring in the city, this building aside

  8. Posted by BayviewSF

    A great development for Mission Bay. I am a little concerned how the employees will commute to this location. It is a long walk from BART and Caltrain station. Are there any major transit plans for Mission Bay and Bayview?

    This site is very convenient from Bayview, only 2-3 miles of T-line or biking. It’ll help gentrify Bayview.

    The only land for big office development are located in Dogpatch, Bayview, Indian Basin and Hunter’s Point. We can expect continued development in the southeastern SF.

    • Posted by HiPo

      “Are there any major transit plans for Mission Bay and Bayview?” Nope.

      • Posted by anon

        The transit plan is for people to take Uber.

        • Posted by anon3

          Uber employees get like $300 in uber credit each month, more than enough to cover their travel to and from the office. The drivers don’t count. They are “independent contractors” after all.

    • Posted by brooder

      T connects to BART and Caltrain

    • Posted by Wai Yip Tung

      Are there any major transit plans? Yes. The central subway extension for T-Third. And the temporary 55 line on 16th st that is to become the rapid 22 line. I.e. the realization of TEP that was long planned from a decade ago.

      • Posted by HiPo

        A decade ago… And as a result we have a turnaround that will serve Mission Bay and reduce service to Dogpatch, Pier 70 and points south. The reroute of the 22 to 16th Street will mean less service to Potrero Hill. Here on the Hill, we call it the Transit Elimination Plan.

        • Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

          “Here on the hill” we would rather have a fast line on 16th than a slow line on 18th.

    • Posted by Can't Think of Cool Name

      @BayviewSF, the T stops right in front of the building (UCSF/Mission Bay stop). As mentioned elsewhere, there’s a T stop that services CalTrain as well as being a short walk from the 4th & King N (and eventually E) stop. Its also a roughly a 15 minute walk from CalTrain as well.

    • Posted by Zig

      T line central subway is our generational transit project. I don’t really understand your concern. People in the City can’t connect to this?

      Caltrain should consider a relocated stop from 22nd though

      • Posted by BayviewSF

        Considering that BART ridership is much higher than Caltrain, it is very important to connect to BART. Will T line central subway connect to BART as well? Uber needs to make sure that its employees can commute from east bay easily.

        • Posted by Jake

          Yes, the Central Subway will connect to BART at Market/Powell via a concourse (namelink). Now a BART commuter from the east bay can get to the T line from the BART Embarcadero station and the total trip time would be about the same either way.

        • Posted by BayviewSF

          I am now convinced that Mission Bay is a viable office location. With the central subway under construction, Bayview and Dogpatch will benefit as well. It can help if T-line will consider express trains to help the commuters.

          • Posted by Jake

            It is a preferred office location for San Mateo commuters to SF. Easier to drive from SM to work at UCSF Mission Bay than Parnassus or Mt Zion. 75k people commute from San Mateo county to work in SF and most of them drive.

      • Posted by Sierrajeff

        I love it when people blithely suggest moving a transit stop. Where? for starters. “More convenient” for one person is “less convenient” for another. And how would this new stop jibe with the plans to underground a portion of Caltrain? Are you going to build a new station at 16th, and then have to stop using it 10 years later when Caltrain tunnels there?

        Not to mention that we can’t even create a bike lane in this city – or fail to create a bike lane in this city – without people going into histrionics. Moving a Caltrain station makes that pale in comparison.

  9. Posted by eddy

    Uber is a great example of the staying power of the bay area.

    Also, I really hope that is an insane corkscrew slide exit in the rendering. Fingers crossed.

    • Posted by EBGuy

      Versus, say Lyft. Admittedly, Uber giving away $500 per driver does seem more sustainable than Lyft’s recent $1000 per driver offer.

  10. Posted by bjork ingels

    this is soooo uber of uber. i sort of love it, sort of fear it, definitely depend on it, and am sort of surprised it doesn’t have a plinth (unless the first 5 levels ARE the plinth…what AM I to you, uber?!?!). don’t expect it to have any engaging retail or whatever 3rd street presence (re: invented). remember, uber wants to keep you close, but never too close.

    • Posted by formidable doer of the nasty

      What the hell are you talking about.

      • Posted by bjork ingels

        what the hell are “what the hell are you talking about,” about?

  11. Posted by Übermensch at god view

    Looks great from here. Nevermind the permits, and don’t bother with licensed contractors, built it now, and let the law catch up.

  12. Posted by Pfffttt

    Love it! I hope it gets built. Finally, something refreshing and interesting to look at!

  13. Posted by ncydr

    The render shows a light and airy building with a reflective soffit. That’s not realistic. Expect the building to cast LONG shadows onto Third St. from morning to noon. The other side through the outdoor atrium is a very nice corporate green space. Third St. sidewalk is depicted wider than it truly is. Thanks to transit first policy, Third St. is dead as a door knob which MTA admit did not pan out as expected. One problem is there is no loading for either passenger or for the commercial and retail tenants on Third St, thus making the ground floor difficult to lease. The car picking up the passengers is actually illegally parked. They forgot to add a meter maid readying up a citation for double parking . That being said, design is more promising than the spec office Nextar is in to the left. If Gensler massages the bulk down and details the building well, it could be a nice addition to the neighborhood.

    • Posted by Can't Think of Cool Name

      @ncydr, I did a quick search on your comment about the MTA admitting the transit first policy killed off activity on 3rd. I’d like to read about that. Do you have a link handy you can share? I can’t seem to find anything right now…

      • Posted by OhReally

        You don’t need to read a study, just look at the results.

        • Posted by Sierrajeff

          yeah, why would you expect ncydr’s comment to be based in *fact*? It’s how he or she *feels*, man. I mean c’mon, if you can’t extrapolate what the built-out neighborhood is going to look like in the future, based on the half-built and largely unopened buildlings there now… if you’re going to insist on things like facts and data… well, then I don’t know how you expect the knee-jerks and NIMBYs to fight.

          • Posted by ncydr

            sorry dude it is a present fact. (except for ball game hours) I travel on 3rd St. by foot, bicycle and car everyday. I cannot predict the future. Hopefully 3rd St will turn out better, but it sure feels like suburbia right now on 3rd St (and coming soon 16th St.). 3rd St. has the same feel as San Jose civic center…not really pedestrian friendly. The parks around Mission Bay however are awesome.

      • Posted by ncydr

        I do not have a link. Comment was mentioned by an MTA folk in a mission bay transit meeting several years ago which I attended. MTA had hoped the retailed spaces along 3rd St would have been filled back then. 3rd and 4th st. is still pretty quiet. Although a market/food establishment is finally breaking ground on 4th St.

  14. Posted by alberto rossi

    If the brutalist FBI building in DC had a baby with its trophy wife the CTV building in Beijing, it might look like this.

  15. Posted by Blabber Girl

    The building looks cool, but what’s the kerfuffle story all about? Seems like a very minor thing to make a story of.

    • Posted by put put

      Its about Peter Weingarten being forced out of the SF office; relegated to Oakland. Apparently half of the “work-flex” architecture studio left solely because of him.

      • Posted by Giuliani

        tell us more

        • Posted by Chichi

          Put Put, I quit for the same reason! Thanks for sharing the latest on the kerfuffle!

  16. Posted by Amewsed

    Ignore all the critics. I like it “as is” It has a commanding presence, saying, “look and admire from afar but don’t touch.” Why are Gensler handprints all over this? Is it the only game in town?

  17. Posted by Adam

    The neighborhood needs street life! Plus with the Warriors moving in next door, there is an opportunity to have street level retail and dining. This plan offers nothing to the pedestrian save for something to look up at. Poorly considered- another box turning its back to the street in an area full of them.

  18. Posted by EBGuy

    No 1099-MISC, for you!

    Here’s my prediction… one of these operators will offer profit sharing with their “drivers”.

  19. Posted by Paul

    Any underground parking planned for Uber? The existing parking garage beside the Uber building is going to be way oversubscribed with the Warriors crowds.

  20. Posted by UpMark

    Is that old fat woman trying to hail a cab whilst the pretty millennials jump into the sporty (presumably) Uber ride? Very clever Gensler. Very….clever.

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