Oceanwide Center Design

With refined designs for a pair of towers and a six-story Urban Room to rise at First and Mission, the tallest of which will reach a height of 910 feet and become the second tallest building in San Francisco, behind the Salesforce/Transbay Tower which is rising to 1,070 feet across the street, Beijing-based Oceanwide Holdings is now planning to break ground for Oceanwide Center in November.

As designed by Foster + Partners and Heller Manus, the 60-story First Street Tower will yield 1.1 million square feet of office space across floors 7 to 40; a gym and residential amenities on floors 41 and 42; and 109 condominiums, each with at least two bedrooms and one grand penthouse, above.

The condos atop the multi-faceted tower will be the highest residential units in San Francisco as measured from the ground, a title to which the 802-foot tower rising at 181 Fremont had been laying claim.

The adjacent 54-story Mission Street Tower will occupy the currently vacant site at the corner of Mission and Ecker Place and will yield 156 condominiums over a 169-room hotel and 2,000 square feet of ground-floor restaurant space fronting Ecker (which would become a pedestrian alley).

The overall Oceanwide Center development includes an underground garage for 360 cars (133 spaces of which will be offered with the condos) and 364 bikes.

And if all goes as planned, the towers could be ready for occupancy by the end of 2019 or early 2020.

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Comments from “Plugged-In” Readers

  1. Posted by Mo

    The permit at the site says 810 ft tower

    • Posted by SocketSite

      Perhaps it’s a typo, but the plans call for a 910-foot building as we reported above, which does include the 60-foot crown.

    • Posted by donjuan

      It’s definitely 910 ft. I clarified with a city planner last month.

  2. Posted by Patrick

    I dub this tower The Asparagus. It should be clad in green glass.

  3. Posted by eflat

    Isn’t there a separate L shaped property between the two buildings? Why is Hellar Manus involved in the second building? IMO Foster & Partners would design a much more integrated and unique set of buildings that would work better than sharing the design with Hellar Manus. Also wonder why Foster & Partners just didn’t level the corner buildings and create a nice POP with the main building(s) set back from the corner…just wondering

    [Editor’s Note: See Slender Building Could Block SF’s Penultimate Tower Views and Refined Plans for a Grand Six-Story Urban Room.]

    • Posted by Orland

      I’m assuming the Heller Manus designed building is a work in progress as the second tower in the rendering appears featureless.

      [Editor’s Note: Not quite. Plug in Monday to see.]

      • Posted by skyscraperluvr

        Featureless is a feature of HM designs.

        • Posted by Yup

          I wish – they are even worst than that.

        • Posted by Torger Cobus

          I worked for an earlier incarnation of HM, and am glad to be not there any more.

  4. Posted by sassySFboy

    Luv this tower!

  5. Posted by oh well

    More and more I am missing the simple designs of towers from the 60s and 70s that used no gimmicks but allowed the structure to become the design. While in New York recently, I could not help but stop and stare at the simple elegance of 375 Park Avenue (sometimes called the Seagram Building). The nearest thing we have in San Francisco is the Crown Zellerbach building. I also believe the Embarcadero Center is under appreciated as a simple modern assemblage of well designed structures and plazas that could be considered a late entry into what is sometimes called “mid century” modernism.

    • Posted by [skyscraperluvr]

      Form follows function very nicely here. That looks like an exoskeleton to me which provides redundancy/ fault tolerance in case of earthquakes.

    • Posted by Orland

      I just recently found myself appreciating anew the beauty Crown Zellerbach. While SF will never rival Chicago, what with CZ and the Hallidie Building just up the street, we do have a couple of pioneering architectural treasures.

  6. Posted by Invented
  7. Posted by Someonewhocares

    Now this is the one I’m really excited about! Love how the height compliments the Salesforce Tower and overall skyline well. Looking at the top shot of the entire SF skyline, I can only hope for one more supertall that will someday surpass Salesforce with (finally) a world class public observatory. Imagine its placement between Oceanwide and the old BofA Tower in that same photo! Awesome 😉

    • Posted by Orland

      In the skyline illustration appears a very tall (by SF standards) building just to the right of 181 Fremont. A projection of what is anticipated to be built on Parcel F?

      • Posted by Someonewhocares

        At first glance I was about to agree with you, then I wondered if that might be the Millenium Tower…

        • Posted by Someonewhocares

          Sorry, I believe you are correct! The Millenium Tower is directly in front of Salesforce in that photo.

  8. Posted by Zig

    How did this one get past the SF gadflies?

    Am I right this is an unusually contempary international design for SF?

  9. Posted by SFRealist

    Yes yes yes! By our (low) standards, this is a terrific design

  10. Posted by Dave

    The Foster building is fairly typical of the current wave of “look at me” modern architecture. For SF its a change as typical here is the boxy plain slab style. Which the Heller designed building exemplifies – though it is more plain/featureless than most such.

    The problem with the Foster building is seen in the skyline rendering. It is too bulky a la the BofA building.

    It also looks like a mimic of the Salesforce tower from a distance. Taking away some of the visual effect of the latter. The tops of both buildings are too similar – not knowing better one might ask why is the “cap” missing from the Foster building.

    Is it the rendering or does the building “behind” the Heller building towards Market street exist? Or was it added to complete the rendering – sort of a filler.

    Interesting how residential buildings have smaller floor heights than commercial buildings. The skinny tower posted about on this blog this week is hoping to go to about 500 feet and 48 stories. The Heller building is 900 feet and “just” 60 stories. The disparity between floor heights is bigger than I realized I guess.

    I recall hearing speculation Seattle might get the next tallest building on the West Coast after LA. It seems as I recall it was condos and I guess taller than Heller but floor-wise it was in the 80s.

    • Posted by Elitist Pig

      Is there a “Don’t Notice Me” style of architecture you would like to see applied to a 910 foot tower?

    • Posted by Rainer Wilke

      funny how you complain about look at me architecture in one breath and in the next, casually d*cksize about what city will have the tallest tower on the west coast.

      Commercial buildings have tons of equipment which go under the ceilings, which leads to much larger floor heights.

  11. Posted by Booger

    I absolutely love this design. It would be a great home for an evil character in a comic book movie.

  12. Posted by Frisco

    Look closer. The back of the tower is a solid block of concrete. It even protrudes beyond the profile of the stylized front. For a building this tall tho have a utilitarian “backside” facing the city is a huge error.

    • Posted by Orland

      I actually took that to possibly represent a second tower in the “featureless” Mission Street complex. Not sure what it is.

  13. Posted by eflat

    @ Frisco, yikes! you are right! (you might have to noodle around to see backside)

  14. Posted by jamie

    Excited to see this built – mostly because of the POPOS area that I hope will be open 24/7 more or less for folks to congregate and have lotsa seating for folks to enjoy coffee/lunch/whatever.

  15. Posted by eflat

    @Frisco, looking into it a little deeper, it seems the western front of the building won’t be a block of concrete. see this link showing the western facade….

    • Posted by someonewhocares

      @ eflat, I really LOVE that depending on which direction you are viewing the tower, it presents a different face. And I really like the design on all four sides!

    • Posted by Frisco

      I see, it will be skinned after all. It could be better, but thanks for the correction.

  16. Posted by John Parker Willis

    Please remind me why an over-sized unattractive and soulless structure like this will make SF better? Many of the units will be purchased by out of town/country investors or as secondary or tertiary homes.

    The added congestion from the attendant cars will make the existing painfully frustrating traffic even worse .

    At the risk of apostasy, I will say that building more housing, as currently planned, will do more do much to increase urban stress and do little to lower housing costs.

    Have we lost our mind?

    • Posted by cfb

      The building looks pretty attractive to me….speak for yourself. And I’m not sure why you think a mere couple hundred condos in the middle of downtown is going to make any appreciable difference to the level of traffic (especially if they’ll mostly be secondary homes, as you claim). You’re acting like this is proposed for the middle of walnut creek, not downtown SF.

    • Posted by Orland

      The prospect of secondary or tertiary out of town/country residents diluting your suffocating parochialism is reason enough to cheer monumentally, beautiful civic icon.

    • Posted by donjuan

      It’s a beautiful building and it fits really well in that area with the other towers coming up. It will enhance and advance San Francisco as a global city whether some old-generation folks like it or not.

    • Posted by cab

      If no one is going to live here then how will it add to congestion?

    • Posted by someonewhocares

      Okay, I’ll remind you it is not an over-sized, unattractive, or soulless structure. It is going to be built a block away from the main public transit center in the City. If I were lucky enough to live or work in said structure, I would have no need for an automobile, thus I’d be only guilty of adding foot traffic congestion. But hey…we’re downtown for crying out loud!

  17. Posted by Louis

    One would expect a “contrast” between the elegant and banal designs, respectively, when pairing a Foster and a “local” architect, but this is too much. Even the SF planning deparment could not permit the Mission street tower to be built like this.

    A Political payment to architect for getting a complex project approved? reasonable concept, but a simple check would do, something we would never have to view.

  18. Posted by Pablito

    This portion of Ecker gets direct sunlight for about 10 minutes a day. About 10:30-11:00 am depending on time of year. So that last rendering seems like a stretch…..

  19. Posted by Harvey

    Don’t worry about this being actually built. Once the amount of shadow this puts on Union Square becomes common knowledge (see EIR doc), I suspect a huge fight. SF knows better than most how to delay, delay, delay…

    • Posted by zig

      Could you quote or summarize for us? Most here don’t have time to locate and dig through EIRs but would be interested.

      • Posted by Can't Think of Cool Name

        @zig, found this:

        ESA Memorandum
        date: March 19, 2016

        to: Kansai Uchida, San Francisco Planning Department Marcelle Boudreaux, San Francisco Planning Department
        from: Karl F. Heisler, ESA

        subject: Case No. 2006.1523E – Oceanwide Center (50 First Street) — Project-Specific CEQA and Sections
        146, 147, and 295 Shadow Analysis

        [I skipped to the conclusion…]

        “Conclusion

        Project-Level Impacts

        The proposed project would cast new shadow on four Section 295 Parks: Union Square, St. Mary’s Square, Portsmouth Square, and Justin Herman Plaza. The net new shadow would be within the remaining budget of the Absolute Cumulative Limits for each park, which were established in 1989, and revised in 2012 and 2013. Therefore, under CEQA, the project’s shadow effects would not constitute an adverse effect more severe than analyzed in the Plan EIR.

        With respect to compliance with Section 295, whether the project would have an ‘adverse effect’ pursuant to Section 295 will be determined by the Planning Commission upon the advice of the general manager of the Recreation and Park Department in consultation with the Recreation and Park Commission.

        Regarding other open spaces under public jurisdiction, the 50 First Street project would shade City Park and Mechanics Plaza, and sidewalks within the project site vicinity. The project shadow on these public spaces would be limited in either area or duration, and would not substantially affect their use.

        Similarly, the proposed project would shade POPOS in the project site vicinity, particularly the planned Mission Square, 425 Market, 525 Market, 25 Jessie, 50 Fremont, 45 Fremont, and 50 Beale. These POPOS are already substantially shaded daily by related or other nearby high-rise buildings, and project shadow would be of limited duration, except at 50 Fremont Street, where the project would result in full shading of this plaza in the early afternoon year-round, and at 25 Jessie Street, where the proposed project would obscure most direct sunlight, but not to a greater effect than when this POPOS was created in 1982.”

        • Posted by Rainer Wilke

          So its within the shadow allowance. The shadow allowance is miniscule, so I wouldnt bet my house on this being knocked down over that.

        • Posted by donjuan

          Buildings have been getting approval lately, even with shadow impacts to nearby parks. This may be brought up, but I doubt planning will actually give attention to such a minor issue.

  20. Posted by Sierrajeff

    I wish the smaller tower played off of and accentuated the larger, instead of being so very different.

  21. Posted by james jr

    I love it. Let’s see if it’s ever built as presented in this pic.

  22. Posted by captcha

    Why does it look smaller than Transamerica when it is going to be 60′ taller? From this vantage both buildings are lined up north to south so there should be no distinction between perspective.

    • Posted by someonewhocares

      It depends on both vantage point and elevation of the build site.

  23. Posted by Jim

    San Francisco’s shadow ordinance totally misunderstands optics and light.

    Just because you cast a plane from the building in the direction of the park does not mean that in fact there will be any noticeable shadow. Immediately adjoining the park, yes. The farther away, the less shadow if any at all, because light is coming in and bouncing around from all directions. Remember, you can get sunburned on a cloudy day.

    In addition, it matters what time a day and what month. Does it matter if there is shadow on the park at 7 am when no one wants to be in the park anyway? In December when chances are its raining anyway?

    The shadow ordinance was written by Sue Hestor as a tool to kill developments, not out of any concern or understanding of shadows.

  24. Posted by someonewhocares

    Great comment Jim!

  25. Posted by Sassy

    Until you zoom in close the white arrow resembles a spire, which looks good. Hmmm

  26. Posted by SocketSite

    UPDATE: With respect to the design for the Heller Manus tower fronting Mission, see: The Surprisingly Sophisticated Design for a Mission Street Tower.

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