Along with the refined plans for the proposed 800-foot-tall tower to rise at 550 Howard Street come the latest renderings of San Francisco’s future skyline.

As produced by steelblue, the renderings include every tall tower on the way, including the Foster + Partners designed Oceanwide tower at 50 First Street which will be the second-tallest tower in San Francisco and have the highest penthouse in town.

There’s the Jeanne Gang designed twisty tower which should soon break ground at 160 Folsom Street, the skinny tower to rise at 524 Howard, and even the Rem Koolhaas/OMA designed building to rise at 245 First Street (a.k.a. Transbay Block 8).

Keep in mind that there isn’t a single parcel in San Francisco that’s currently zoned for building any higher and the rolling skyline, with its peaks and valleys when viewed from afar, was envisioned and engineered by Planning.

And of course, there is the future Hub District and its heights as well.

70 thoughts on “San Francisco’s Future Skyline Newly Rendered and on the Way”
  1. Does not include the waterfront building replacing the parking garage on Howard, but the way it’s been pared down, may no longer qualify as a “tower.”

    [Editor’s Note: That’s correct.]

    1. Relative that same rendering, although it would be barely visible behind Rincon Hill One tucked next to Jasper, also missing is the residential building at the NW corner of 1st/Harrison. Incidentally a word to anyone headed to the East Bay running low on gas and thinking they’ll fill up at the 76 station there, it recently closed and construction fencing has been erected around the perimeter of the property.

      1. And, for completeness-sake, also omitted is the Hines generated proposal for 525 Harrison @Essex. Of interest is a note at Hines’ website to the effect that they sold the project on January 30, 2017.

  2. What do you mean when you say “…there isn’t a single parcel in San Francisco that’s currently zoned for building any higher…”? Since plenty of parcels are not built to their height limit.

    1. The only parcel not built to its height limit was the one at Mission/Beale. Zoned for around 700 feet, it was built to 300 feet or so. And the building leased by Salesforce.

      I think Block 8 is not quite going to be built to the allowable height.

      Other than that, the extra height granted in the Transbay district has or will be built to.

      Beyond even that, all other “hi-rise” buildable parcels are zoned for at max about 40 stories. Hence no parcels in SF zoned for building any higher as the author notes. Hub 2.0 would allow a 600 foot building, but that is significantly shorter than the up-zoned Transbay parcels – by 200 plus feet..

      1. This is not at all accurate.

        There are plenty of parcels with height limits greater than 400′ which are not occupied by buildings which are currently at the limits for their parcels.

        Also we have amended height limits previously, and there is no reason why we wouldn’t approach that exercise again in the future in areas where sunshine is not a problem.

    1. I’d say roughly the same – I think we’re nearing the end of this build cycle, and – much like the status of the City from the late 1970s to late 1990s – we’re going to see a fair bit of statis for a while.

      And, frankly, that’s not horrible; not only does the market need to adjust to and mature with all this added space, but more importantly we need our infrastructure to catch up – more Muni underground, another BART line, Caltrain to Transbay, etc. We can’t build a downtown as dense as midtown Manhattan and expect to service it with the same transit systems that were in place in 1975.

      1. Excellent analysis with which I agree.

        What further development will occur the next couple of decades is going to shift to Central SOMA /Hub and has largely already been projected by proposals before Planning.

      2. Interest rates are low. Demand is high. Developers want to build. We should capitalize on that opportunity by upzoning all the depressed downtown areas and have developers pay for the transit improvements. Central SoMa plan alone is generating $500m in transit funding. The Hub could do a lot more.

  3. That first rendering across the Bay Bridge reminds me of a wildfire because the peachy color of sunlight is what you get when forest fire smoke passes in front of the sun.

  4. Relative the Bridgeview rendering, it appears to omit major buildings on Howard including the Renzo Piano building as well as the 48-story tower slated for 524.

    And, although it is quite prominent in the view from the south, the second building (hotel) of the Oceanwide project is not visible in the Bridgeview. It might be blocked from view by the Millennium Tower. Then again, in a few years……

  5. it’s a shame 181 fremont is blocked by parcel f and park tower from such prominent viewpoints as the bay bridge and dolores park

  6. Wow. You can almost imagine stepping out of one of these buildings and catching Caltrain to your south bay/peninsula destination.

    A beautiful skyline doesn’t mean much if nothing is going on at the street level.

        1. With that in mind it will probably be more like the smoking remains of a war zone than smog. If you have the chance to eliminate environmental protections and cut domestic services in favor of military spending, you have to do it!

  7. Would be great to see SteelBlue do some proper renderings of what The Hub upzoning will look like.

  8. Based on the comments and looking at the renderings it appears these images only shows projects that have broken ground (Gang tower at block 1 site is already being cleared). 555 Howard, 524 Howard, etc have not broken ground which would make sense for a city submission.

        1. This should have been in reply to the posting of the link to the Star Trek rendering of 23rd Century SF.

    1. This to-be SF skyline reminds me a bit of Frankfurt’s. Sparse and disjointed. But the setting is far more beautiful with SF’s water and hills, so I guess that makes it charming.

    2. Same can be said about our transit system compared to other great world cities. SF is #1 in terms of cost of living. That’s about it.

    3. I mean compared to Shanghai or Hong Kong it may look dull, but it will easily be one of the top 5 nicest skylines in the US. I also think these renderings don’t do some of the buildings justice (like Oceanwide Center).

    4. I agree. The architecture is dull and uninspiring. This modernistic skyline gives the appearance of cluttered glass silos stalked up on one side of the city. The question is will anything grow at street level. Will there be any vibrancy at the base of these glass and steel behemoths?

      1. Have you not looked at the designs for the large street level plazas/open spaces and ground floor retail associated with these towers?

        1. You’re talking to a [person] that thinks anything in San Francisco is terrible. If these were being built in Oakland, he’d be singing their praises to no end.

          1. Not necessarily. I like pedestrian plazas, human scale, sunshine, and greenscape. There’s a happy median which I think Oakland is attaining and will continue to attain in the future.

        2. No I haven’t looked at the ground floor retail or the plazas. I was just looking at it from the skyline perspective. The current residential high rises near the bay bridge have created dead pedestrian zones with no retail. I hope these projects will activate the streets instead of turning their backs on them.

      2. The responses to this did a great job of proving my point. Random glass tower in Oakland = automatically assumed to be good without even looking at the details of the design. Random glass tower in SF = automatically assumed to be bad without even looking at the details of the design.

        Yep, nothing hypocritical, provincial, or irrational about that at all…

  9. Nice try, but the Millennium Tower will be about 3 feet lower than pictured by the time these other buildings are finished.

    1. Unless there is a big earthquake. “Structural engineer Ronald Hamburger, who was engaged to re-review the building’s seismic safety, said based on new models, some concrete support structures called outriggers ringing the Millennium Tower in two places are subject to failure in the event of an earthquake…”. I think our City’s visual rendering models are far better than the seismic ones….

  10. Is the first rendering accurate? It looks like parcel F is a bit too far to the left. I would have assumed that the building would be partially covered by 181 when looking at the skyline from the bay. Other than that I love the new buildings. I agree that the Jeanne Gang building should definitely be taller and I wouldn’t mind if the OMA building was a little bit taller as well. The renderings show how boxy the new parcel F building will be.

    1. I know perspective can be a tricky thing in artistic illustrations, but the Parcel F building definitely seems located too far to the east in the Bridgeview rendering.

  11. SF has the 3rd best skyline after nyc and chicago. Not too many world class skylines in [the US] outside these 3

  12. Looks good. The Dolores Park view illustrates why SOMA West should be rezoned to allow for taller buildings. The silhouette of the skyline in the distance only comprises of a couple of blocks with towers, then once you head West the district drops from 1000+ft towers to squat 30 ft warehouses and garages. Rezoning West SOMA for taller towers would be a better use for the land.

  13. By mid-2018, there will be 9 major (40 or more stories) buildings under full active construction within about a 2-block radius centered on the TTC.

    Should be quite a sight and one that will set this old ironworker’s (Local #8 out of Milwaukee while putting myself through school) heart to tingling.

  14. The Parcel F and Jean Gang Tower designs should switch sites: build the Gang Tower design to 800′ near Transbay and the current Parcel F design to 400′ behind the GAP building.

  15. Beautiful & Expensive! Can’t wait to visit my family, or move back. New renderings are Incredible!

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