With Macy’s Men’s Store building at 120 Stockton Street slated to be sold to Morgan Stanley for $250 million next year, after which Macy’s will lease the Union Square building for a couple of years as it consolidates into its flagship store across the street, we now have Morgan Stanley’s vision for completely transforming the 250,000-square-foot structure.

As envisioned, the solid concrete and travertine skin of the Stockton Street building will be removed and replaced with a transparent glass curtain wall. The basement and ground floor of the building will be reconfigured as six spaces, with individual storefronts along Stockton and O’Farrell and full-floor retail spaces above.

And the top two floors of the building, and possibly more, are to become upscale office space.

42 thoughts on “Morgan Stanley’s Vision to Transform the Macy’s Men’s Store Building”
  1. Are there any renderings to show? The image appears to be the existing building…

    [Editor’s Note: Not at the moment, but keep plugging in…]

    1. No: one of the few saving graces of the building – maybe the only one?? – is that it’s similarly scaled to its neighbors; perhaps MS can emulate the appearance of the building that this replaced which began its life as a furniture store but spent most of its life as the City of Paris “annex”.

        1. Yes, the offices upstairs were Amfac’s Mainland HQ’s. My reference was to the current building replacing an earlier one, which was used by CoP.

        2. I remember this building as the old Liberty House! Sadly the only period I went in was during its end of business massive sale back in the 1980’s(?)

      1. That is a nice building and would fit much better with the character of the area. I still dont see why a few more floors would be a negative though.

      2. Why is similarity in height / scale important? Honest question from someone with no architectural training. I frequently see in SS comments about the importance of variety in materials, patterns, texture, etc.; but I also see indications, especially from the planning dept, that it’s importance to reference or match neighborhood style elements and height / scale. Why is one kind of congruity important but not the other? Why would it be so bad if Morgan Stanley added 50% or more to this building’s height?

        1. There are two separate issues.

          The simpler one is height, per se. Planners wish to limit the height of buildings since it limits the density of a neighborhood, and, presumably, the strain imposed upon streets and other infrastructure. Of course one building wouldn’t do much – at least not 4-5 stories added here – but consistency would require everyone to be allowed the same, which WOULD change things materially. Not everyone agrees w/ the thinking, since some people argue the discipline of the market place precludes people from developing their properties in a way that ultimately decreases the desirability of the neighborhood – and presumably property values – but their is an element of game theory at work where people pursuing their own interests in the short run works against them in the long run. But regardless of what one thinks of the concept(s), since SF DOES have height limits, they would be at work here (though I don’t know what is/isn’t allowed at this location).

          The other – more involved and less objective – issue is height in terms of scale (so what we might call “relative height” as opposed to “absolute height”); the theory being that a building’s architecture draws part of its value from compatibility with its neighbors. In NYC, Park Avenue was a classic example: as originally built out in 1914-c.1930, the street had a fairly uniform roof line, and as all the buildings were of similar materials, they formed an ensemble. In the 1950’s first with Lever House, and then (even more so) with the Seagram Bldg, the scale was lost and the ensemble effect was lost.

          Needless to say, even fewer people agree with this thinking than w/ the first. Some people feel that cities are naturally chaotic – and the variety of rooflines on both O’Farrell and Stockton Streets supports this notion – while others just say “Who Cares ?!?”

          So that’s my…uhm ….2+ cents on it.

          1. re: uniform roof line – my favorite example being Paris, or for that matter downtown D.C. They’re both very attractive, human-scale cities (but with incredible density that allows for great pedestrian experiences). Not everything need be built to skyscraper proportions.

          2. Thank you Notcom for that excellent, thorough reply, and double thank you for being candid about which parts of your answer are your opinion and not necessarily a consensus view.

            In my personal experience, I generally enjoy seeing very different architecture in juxtaposition. Like the old Trinity Church in Boston (or the one in New York, for that matter) among modern steel-and-glass giants. But like oakland lover, I also like SF’s rows of Victorians, and the neighborhood historic districts where most/all the homes were built 100+ years ago are pretty cool.

            In the end, from my armchair planning position I’d like to see a lighter touch by the planning department and freer reign given to architects and developers. It seems at least half the time Socketsite posts an update with revised plans from a developer that incorporate SF Planning’s feedback, a majority of the comments say the original design was better.

        2. Ya thats what I am talking about. If you look at the way the new transbay hood is coming together its really cool. You have old classic’s from the 1900-150 era around 5-12 stories or so and even a few random smaller wood frame buildings like the blacksmith buidling along folsom between fremont and 1st, next to the PGE substation thing. This mixed with some mid range towers (300-400ft) from the last century (mostly last 50 years), and now you have a new crop of 600+ towers coming up. All of which have generally unique and varying designs (at lest relative to the buildings around them).

          I think this is much more interesting than uniform (both in look and height) blocks like mission bay, or some of the brick blocks in older areas of NYC, or the rows upon rows of 5-8 story flat buildings in London or Paris. But on the otherhand I do like the old hoods in SF will row after row of nice victorians. I like a big variety of things I suppose. Key being dont just copy paste the same general design / block / development patterns over and over. Transbay is really coming together uniquely, vs mission bay being pretty bland and unsurprising (which some people like, and more power to them).

          Union Sq is very original in its hodgepodge of architecture and alleyways, and this building has an opportunity to add a unique standout to it

          In this case, in that part of the city, most buidling are around 5-10 stories, with larger towers outside the immdediate uniion square area, which is exactly why I think it would be good to plop 10 more stores on this monstrosity (narrower than the current box) as it would punctuate the otherwise ~50 to~ 100ft blocks around there. But thats just me, the armchair urban planner!

        3. Similarity in height is not important. We recently learned from planning that such similarity causes the awkward “benching” effect.

          So it’s good or bad depending on what emotion based opinion you want to rationalize, which itself comes from who knows where, negative reaction to new things, desire to have control, or the joy and ego-feed of ever playing the harsh critic.

      3. Agree – I actually like this building, and its smooth white façade – it’s not just another grid of glass.

        (More generally, I’m so disappointed that the men’s store is closing! So great to be able to go to a store for men’s clothes and not have to wade through acres of perfume and bras to get to the men’s things sequestered in a back corner.)

        1. The internet is replacing everything. Just buy online, we are told. I think buying clothes sight unseen and without feeling the material and fit makes a lot of sense! /sarc

        2. You might remember – I don’t know how old you are – that the men’s store, or really it was just a dept then, used to be in “the main building”; IIRC the suits were up on 3 or 4 and you had to walk down a corridor to reach them…more like going to some club than being in a dept store.

        3. I like it too. I wonder why they can’t just punch out windows for the upper floors. Cheaper to replace the facade, I guess.

  2. I could be wrong, but I believe the facing is marble, not concrete. That having been said, whatever material it is, I doubt it will be missed.

  3. It will not be missed. While a rendering hasn’t surfaced yet, I like the concept of creating 6 individual retail spaces along the street level and glass opening up the building. If you want a completely enclosed mall experience just walk 2 blocks to Westfield and lose yourself in all its glory. The individual shops in/around Union Square are a delight and a nice contrast to the dirt and grime of Market St. I wish that there was more sidewalk cafes/dining on the side streets.

    1. Agree. Regardless of architectural style or aesthetics, it will be a great improvement to the street experience to have many storefronts here.

    1. And the Neiman Marcus building. They should have done is never destroyed the City of Paris store, but of course that was the 50s-80s so they had absolutely no semblance of anything good in architectural design.

  4. This adds even more pressure on the planning commissions impending decision on office conversations in Union square. Should make for some good political theater.

  5. Thank goodness. Not nearly enough construction on that corner. 🙁 This is why we will probably never see a Geary Subway line unless they bore deep enough as to not disturb the streets.

  6. I used to do business with Macy’s West when there was a Macy’s West. Those executive offices up there at the top two floors were a hushed dimly lit temples to the rational, frugal and still fabulous showmanship of a great Department Store chain. Ironic and sad that they will likely become the cheap seats in yet another soulless pencil tower place for people to park their blood money upon a mortgage in San Francisco.

    1. was that before or after Macy’s bankruptcy in 1992?
      The building itself looks like a telco co or a datacenter that takes in cooler air from ground level and vents it hot out the upper levels.

  7. The conversion of the building will be completed at the same time as the Rose Pak Railway – sometime in late 2041.

Leave a Reply

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