San Francisco’s Planning Department has just finished its preliminary review of the proposed plans for a modern 240-foot tower to rise at corner of Harrison and Fourth, with a 130-foot-tall mid-block structure and a 65-foot ‘Base Building’ across the 725 Harrison Street site which encompasses three-quarters of the Central SoMa block.
While generally praising the “playful and inventive architecture” of HOK’s design, Planning also provided Boston Properties with a few important notes, suggestions and requests:
1. “The Planning Department requests that the project more directly address the open space requirements proposed in the Central SoMa Area Plan. This would include providing [Privately-Owned Public Open Spaces] POPOS that use up to 15% of the development site with the remainder being provided either offsite, detached from the public realm above grade, or indoors… As this site has a special roofline and ramp character, the Department also suggests exploring how the roof could be used as an extension of ground floor POPOS as a continuous open space experience which, if done as a truly public interface with the street level, would satisfy the ground level POPOS requirement. This could be an extraordinary and unique landscape and architecture experience.”
2. “The Department recommends providing a mid-block alley through the site from Harrison to Perry Street generally aligned with Lapu Lapu Street. While there currently is little activity on Perry Street, this would provide future access to potential recreation space under the highway and generally provide for more porous pedestrian circulation.”
3. “The Planning Department has two recommendations for the street frontage: the first is to eliminate office programming within the first 25 feet of depth from facades as it does not qualify as active use. The second is to find more ways to break the long frontage. The goal of the latter is to relate to the more common horizontal lot width dimensions to avoid a “mega-block” expression. This might be achieved by changing the pattern, texture, or rhythm of the vertical elements along the Harrison street façade or by providing vertical massing breaks.”
Also noted, while the site which is currently only zoned for building up to 85-feet in height is likely to be up-zoned for development up to 240-feet at the corner as part of the City’s pending Central SoMa Plan, said plan will also limit the maximum bulk of new towers to support the development of the area as “a mid-rise district punctuated with occasional ‘spire-like’ towers,” and the bulk of the proposed tower will likely need to be slimmed-down to a maximum of 15,000 square feet per floor.