Transbay Parcel F Rendering

Transbay Parcel F at 546 Howard Street was the last remaining development site in San Francisco zoned for building over 550 feet in height, a so-called “super-tall” site by the city.

And with the $160 million sale of Parcel F having been completed, we now have the first renderings for the proposed 750-foot-tall tower to rise on the site, designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli in partnership with HKS (which will be the architect of record).

As envisioned, the 60-story Parcel F tower will include 250,000-425,000 square feet of office space at its base, with a 200-300 room hotel and 200 condos above.

Transbay Parcel F Rendering

The tower will be one of the three to be connected to the 5.4-acre City Park atop the adjacent Transbay Transit Center by way of a pedestrian sky bridge, with 181 Fremont and the Transbay/Salesforce Tower being the other two.

63 thoughts on “The First Renderings for San Francisco’s Last Super-Tall Tower Site”
  1. A super tall is 300m+. This building is 228m, which puts it in the category of 200m+, which makes it a ‘skyscraper’. Other journalists who have recently called this supertall have been incorrect.

    [Editor’s Note: Our choice of words and phrasing (“a so-called “super-tall” site by the city”) was deliberate.]

  2. The base looks pretty cool.

    Anyone want to take a guess as to how much that little bridge is going to cost?

    1. Are you asking about the cable-stayed bus bridge or the proposed ped bridge? The cable-stayed is part of the TTC project. The tower for this bridge is already complete and visible along Howard.

    2. Looks way dated, they should get the architect of the transnational tower, way better. More futuristic.

    1. I’m going to guess that it’s to the roof line, seeing as that’s what the zoning is…750′ to the roof. In the rendering, it looks like there’s a crown extending a couple stories above the roof, so maybe the full structural height will be more ike ~780′.

      1. It looks even taller than the Transbay. How is that possible? I thought the transbay was going to be the tallest tower.

          1. They shortened the Transbay tower!?!? Typical bait and switch with the city, promise us one thing and give us another lesser thing. So disappointed.

  3. On a side-note, I think the city needs to push this type of development in the upcoming urban areas like Central SoMa, the Caltrain re-development, and the Hub and Market/Van Ness. Skyscrapers are a lot more aesthetically pleasing than the ugly mid-rises (think the Beacon in SoMa or the Avalon) that are often built as a compromise with anti-development crusaders.

    1. Agreed. I hope the hub plan goes with the taller option for rezoning (what was it? 500′-600′ for the tallest sites?), and I hope the small handful of 300′-400′ towers proposed for the central SOMA area don’t get rejected.

  4. I really like it. It is refreshing to see a building over 200m in SF with a sizeable rectangular top relatively intact at the uppermost levels. Of course I wish everything was built taller than proposed, but I’ll take it!

  5. A disappointing design for the last super-tall tower site in SF. They tried to do something with one side of the base which is not bad, but the rest – meh.

    The TTC up-zoning was, IMO, a giveaway to developers using the multi-billion dollar bus terminal. as an excuse to do so.

    The good news is there are no more sites zoned for more than 500 (plus a bit) feet. And with all the building that has gone on I’d imagine there are not many remaining such zoned sites.

    Hopefully we are seeing the waning of hi-rise construction in SF. With the business cycle possibly turning down for a few years there should be a new regime at City Hall during the next upturn. I expect that group will be less open to tall buildings and uber density.

    If I had my way I’d cap the maximum height in SF at 20 to 25 stories. Golden Gateway type height and density.

    1. Yeah, the waning of high rise construction would be great… eyeroll. Seriously, your opinions are just nuts, like the absolute opposite of good governance and the history of city until the boomers and newcomers like you decided to impose a crazy ideology on our city.

    2. Or, with San francisco’s prosperity on the continuing upswing, the sensible thing would be to keep building taller and denser.

      1. Even if one supports building taller and denser, it is not IMO sensible to do so without a concurrent build-out/up of the infrastructure and particularly the transportation infrastructure. Without the transportation piece, more height/density will hurt SF’s prosperity.

        1. That’s a good point. It would be great if someone had thought about new transit infrastructure right near where this tower was being built.

          1. The reality is best laid plans. CalTrain won’t reach the TTC for 10 – 15 years. Same for HSR. The pedestrian tunnel to BART is in limbo.

            The need for the counter- flow lanes for buses (requiring the Hines project to afford passage over their property) is because the traffic situation is so bad. The BART tube at capacity, the bridge too.

            Growth is fine as long as it is sustainable growth. And planned growth. These TTC towers should have been built out over time as the promised transit improvements were built out (in a similar fashion to how the Giants project, Lennar HP and the ParkMerced project are being built out over a decades .

            Yet all these super-tall sites as well as the more numerous 30/35 story hi-rise sites in TTC are being built out more than a decade before any transit improvements. Bike lanes or a “calming” on 2nd Street don’t count, IMO, as transit improvements.

            We’ll see what happens.

          2. All the more reason to build towers around here– it allows more people to get around with nothing more than their own two feet.

            Granted, transportation infrastructure should be improved. But the supposed “solution” of not building in high density areas is counterproductive. The people who would have lived there will not disappear, they’ll live somewhere else, almost certainly in lower density areas. As a result, they’ll depend more on transportation infrastructure, not less, and the problem will get worse.

            The unsustainable growth that’s happening is in isolated, single-use cul-de-sac clusters on the urban fringe.

          3. @Dave, if you go to the temporary transbay terminal website, you’ll see that the following services start/terminate at the terminal: AC Transit, Golden Gate Transit, Amtrak, Greyhound, SF Muni, SamTrans, Taxi, SF Paratransit, PresidiGo, WestCAT Lynx, Bay Area Bike Share, & Caltrans Bike Share. In certain cases you can also check on which lines within these services are there.

            Assuming that all of these will transfer to the Transbay Terminal when its completed, this location will not be as transportation challenged as you infer. Sure, it could be better (and should be), but its not like its going to be completely lacking in mass transit options for the surrounding – and growing, area.

          4. Actually we should probably wait to put in new housing until transit is fully built out….and wait to build transit until all the housing is there to support it.

        2. Hey, I have a great idea. The City should consider building a super transit center, with the capacity to go tri-modal in the future, right next to where they allowed all this “super tall” development.

          1. @mark

            Over 500,000 of muni’s 700,000 daily riders use the bus. Buses are the main or only form of transit for most other public transportation systems in the bay area too…Trains are great, but buses are far from useless. As for trains, BART and muni metro are only two blocks away, not to mention CalTrain and HSR will someday stop at the transbay terminal.

          2. I never implied or stated that buses are useless, but you’re wrong if you think that a multi-billion dollar bus station is any kind of solution to link disparate regional transit systems.

          3. Buses are a lot better than nothing, and actually work pretty well, even if trains are better. And you sure seem like you’re implying that buses are useless, when you imply that buses aren’t a form of transit. And once again: BART and Muni metro are only two blocks away, and Caltrain and HSR will eventually make it to the station.

          4. @OFB: enough with trying in vain to read between the lines of what I wrote. Clearly we disagree, but more power to you for wanting to wait another 10+ years for CalTrain to be extended to downtown (when we were promised how long ago that it would be extended?). Meanwhile, feel free to use connecting bus service to take you to CalTrain at 4th/King (assuming any of the bus lines will actually go to 4th/King) or enjoy that 2-minute walk to the Market St. subway to catch your MUNI or BART train. All yours.

          5. @mark: Who says I’m happy to wait 10 years? It’s not ideal, but it is what it is. Meanwhile, yeah I’ll take the bus, just like I’ve been doing for most of my life. And Muni metro. And BART…and walking for two minutes really isn’t a problem at all (seriously? lol).

            Feel free to keep crying about the sky falling, though.

    3. The TransBay District allowed for the height increases to pay for the TransBay Terminal. This is why we have a nine billion dollar budget because of the increase in property taxes. Too bad you don’t live in SF to really appreciate this. This building caps the TransBay District and is a financially strong project.

    4. 20 to 25 stories are equally efficient at clogging the skyline and creating dark, shadowy streets while providing little to ZERO aesthetic value to San Francisco. Compare TransAmerica Pyramid to a building like the Beacon. One is a landmark while the other is a total eyesore that provides marginal housing.

      1. Remember how all real San Franciscans hated the TransAmerica pyramid when it was going up in the 70s? What’s to say this building isn’t compared with some 2042 rendering and called a “landmark”? Also it’s great to compare a “total eyesore that provides marginal housing” with an office building that provides none.

      2. Yeah, cities with 30 story towers are so incredibly dark. It’s like you’re in a cave. You literally need a headlamp to walk down the street

    5. Also, Central SoMa will likely see 500+ ft towers with spot zoning after the area adopts the Central SoMa plan. The Hub will also feature at least 2 super tall towers. The Mexican Museum tower will also be above 500 ft. Luckily, your opinion is unfounded and we’ll see many more super-talls as NIMBY generations of San Franciscans are phased out in lieu of pro-urbanization city dwellers.

    6. What is your reasoning for such a cap? Your own aesthetic values? If so, it is thinking like yours that has propagated the high level of pricing in this city which constantly comes to battle the artificially determined limits to density / height / affordable units / parking / you name it.

      For example, Proposition C was just passed by voters to mandate that residential developments of 25 units or more must have 25% (previously 12%) affordable units on the premises. I find it horrible that our elected officials punted such precise legislation to the untrained and emotionally-charged voter (60% of whom rent) to decide when they have an abundance of professionally trained staff to make better informed legislation.

      Why is 25 units the magic tipping point? It would be more logical and economically viable to the developer / builder to gradually ramp the affordable quotient up with the unit count. As it stands now, you are going to get a lot of 24 unit developments and then a long wait for anything greater in size while the market cycle reloads. All of which means less supply will be available and prices will not go down, especially now that the new buyer will be forced to shoulder the cost of the additional affordable units the developer is forced to build.

      I hope that Jerry Brown’s proposal to require as-of-right development to rule over the arbitrary and draconian discretionary review process will pass. Enough is enough.

  6. The renderings seem inconsistent: the NE/SW direction (i.e. parallel to Howard) is squarish in the top one, but rectangular in the bottom; I ‘spose it could be trapezoidal, but we should still see what would be an east-facing diagonal wall in the top one.

  7. Transbay Transit Center apologists are fascinating. First, no high speed rail at Transbay. Then no Caltrain. Then no direct connection with BART. Then no direct connection between MUNI trains and BART. But “look over here” at our Transbay bus terminal that also has bike share and Pari-transit.

    I know a city around 450 miles south of here that is building a regional transit hub that will have over 10 Caltrain style lines, 3 subway lines, multiple MUNI style lines, numerous bus platforms, and High Speed Rail all DIRECTLY connecting WITHIN the terminal and easy to interface without leaving the terminal.

    1. @Anonandon, no need to paint me as an apologist – since you are referring to my temporary transbay terminal post. I was simply responding to a previous inference that I felt was a little lite on the facts. I also mentioned in that post that there should be more to the plan as well.

      And yes, I’ve gone through LA Metro’s “Transforming Los Angeles Union Station” PDF. Its a nice piece of work that lays out a vision that hopefully can be fulfilled as envisioned.

      And this is why we need to keep the power’s that be’s feet to the fire with making the transbay terminal as multi-modal as possible as quickly as possible. Yes, we need that CalTrain tunnel dug and trains running to the site. Yes, we need an easy to use connection to Muni metro and BART. I go back and forth on HSR, so I’ll let that be for now.

      I’ll agree that Transbay isn’t Union Station, and we need to push for more now at Transbay, but my comment stands – its hardly devoid of mass transit options to serve the immediate vicinity and the bay area.

    2. So you pretend that HSR and Caltrain will never make it to the terminal, despite the fact that it’s always been and still is part of the plan, and then get angry. Nice. PS: BART and Muni metro are a two minute walk from the terminal and there are plans for a pedestrian tunnel connecting them And did you really expect a new Bart tunnel to get dug just to connect to the terminal which is only two blocks away from the existing tunnel?

      You doom and gloom whiners are annoying.

      1. I guess to some people common sense is referred to as doom and gloom. If you’re willing to settle for a bus station then fine, but don’t call it something that it’s not. The whole point (and sell to SF residents) of the TTC is that it is supposed to be a multi-modal connection point for regional bus and rail, as well as CAHSR. Google it. The TTC video itself details exactly what it’s supposed to be, yet upon delivery it’s just going to be a bus station…and nothing more for decades to come. Cost overruns (surprise, surprise) = CalTrain extension being pushed back another 10 years. Geez, even a ped tunnel to the Market St. subway for a practically seamless connection to BART and MUNI can’t be built in time for the building to open.

      2. And for the record, it’s not a 2-minute walk from the TTC to either Embarcadero or Montgomery stations.

        1. Are you really complaining about the distance from the TTC to BART? Really? It’s two blocks from Market Street. If there are valid arguments, that ain’t one of them

          1. I sure am complaining about the lack of direct connection via pedestrian tunnel between MUNI/BART and the TTC. Why shouldn’t there be a connection? I guess you’re just willing to accept a half-baked, expensive bus station rather than an integrated, multi-modal transit hub. I’m not.

          2. That is not what I said at all. To be clear, my point is this: complaining about a lack of a tunnel is about the stupidest criticism imaginable of the TTC.

            (There are many valid criticisms. HSR should get there sooner. The Central Subway was built in the wrong place such that it doesn’t connect. Etc. But this particular criticism is idiotic)

          3. Careful with your choice of words and tone. I’m at least explaining why having a tunnel makes sense versus just condemning the idea as being stupid without any merit just because you think it’s ridiculous. I tell you what…once it’s built, let’s see how many people complain that it’s not connected in any way to the Market St. subway or whine that Caltrain is still over a mile away. Prove me wrong then.

          4. In regards to the tunnel, it’s already planned. From the Transbay Center program website’s section on the “BART/Muni Underground Pedestrian Connector” page:

            “The 2004 FEIS/EIR-approved design included a pedestrian tunnel under Fremont Street between the Transit Center and a BART/Muni Metro station on Market Street. The proposed BART/Muni Underground Pedestrian Connector is an 800-foot pedestrian connection underneath Beale Street linking the Embarcadero BART/Muni Metro Station with the Transit Center. The new design takes advantage of the extended train box to provide this direct connection.”

            According to the plan the tunnels will be cut and cover and include moving walkways. You would think we would be able to scrape together the budget for an 800′ cut and cover tunnel…

  8. It is silly to build two transit stations that close to each other and not connect them directly. At least they’re doing this with the Powell/Union Square Muni connection. They should do it here too.

    1. I would rather have the station money spent on getting BART, Caltrain, and MUNI all stopping in one multi-modal transit hub than some architectural folly with a very questionable “public park” on the roof. The whole project is “cart before the horse”.

      1. Exactly. The super-tall tower development should have had transit benchmarks tied it to – at the very least, CalTrain coming to the TTC. The cost over-runs were so bad that the extension had to be nixed? And the “public park” value engineered down already. The “stream” that was to traverse it and the big selling point of the park – gone from the revised plans. And no one will be held accountable. But for we taxpayers who pay the bill.

  9. Would you people spend some time in a real city, with real density?

    The public transit system in SF is abysmal, and only increased density will make drastic improvements to it economic. Almost no one in NYC owns a car, because it is simply not necessary. I lived there for 4 years. We could afford anything. We did not have a car.

    1. Well, 44% of households in NYC own a car. Not really “almost no one” but more like “almost half.”

      That said, I agree that SF’s public transportation leaves a lot of room for improvement, especially the rail service. But I’ve never seen any evidence that this has a material impact on the economy.

      1. I wonder what percentage of the densest areas (Manhattan, inner Brooklyn and Queens, etc) have a car vs. outer Brooklyn/Queens/Bronx and of course Staten Island. My guess is that somebody who lives in transit rich TriBeCa is probably less likely to own a car than somebody in, say, Forest Hills, and the 44% could reflect the outer areas of the boroughs more than the inner ones. I could easily be wrong, though.

        1. Queens NYC has about the same car ownership rates as SF (~one third of households do not have a car). Manhattan is much lower per capita than SF, though Manhattan residents own about as many cars per sq mile as SF residents. Namelink has a map of car ownership rates for NYC neighborhoods.

  10. Uninspired, regressive and plain boring. Connection to the park, rich with possibility, is even more timid than the other two with that connection. I really hope planning makes this project step it up – for such a high profile project this is rubbish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *