Starchitects bring creative firepower to S.F. Transbay projects

News & Awards.

TMG Partners has won awards for many projects
including honors for “Best Mixed Use,”
“Best Office,” and “Best Historic Rehabilitation”.

August 1, 2014
San Francisco Business Times
Starchitects bring creative firepower to S.F. Transbay projects

When San Francisco city officials drew up the Transit Center District Plan and the Transbay Redevelopment Plan, the goal for the new neighborhood was to design “the bustling heart of San Francisco.”

The combination of more than 6 million square feet of office space, nearly 4,400 units of new housing and about 100,000 square feet of retail space is being designed in the city’s booming district to create a bicycle- and pedestrian-friendly environment while encouraging density around the Transbay Terminal.

More than 11 acres of new public parks and open space and a 1,070-foot-tall tower will further transform the area. At one of the neighborhood’s entrances on 25 Essex St. sits Rene Cazenave Apartments, a new eight-story building that is now home to about 120 formerly homeless or destitute San Francisco residents. The sustainable building was the first new construction designed under the redevelopment plan, said Richard Stacy, principal of San Francisco-based Leddy Maytum Stacy Architects.

“There was an expectation that the design and materials would set a high standard for the rest of developments to come,” Stacy said. “The city thought of it as a gateway building into the neighborhood.”

One feature that marks that structure and the vision for the design of the neighborhood as a whole is to create “more slender, taller buildings with greater space between them so that they are more sculptural and elegant than more boxy, close-together structures we’ve seen in the past,” according to Stacy.

Here we’ll take a look at some of the major new projects being designed in the Transbay neighborhood and the architects behind them.

First and Mission Towers

Location: First and Mission streets

Description: Two million-square-foot, mixed-use development includes office, hotel and residential

Architects: Foster + Partners and Heller Manus Architects

Developers: TMG Partners and Northwood Investors

Estimated completion date: 2018

Interesting architectural detail: The project will include a large floor plate office tower with frontage on First Street and a condominium portion that will be taller than any residential project on the West Coast

When TMG Partners acquired the First and Mission property in mid-2013, the developer knew it was a “rare opportunity to build a one-of-a-kind facility here in San Francisco,” said Chairman and CEO Michael Covarrubias. The firm interviewed three world-class architects to design the approximately 2 million-square-foot, mixed-use site and ultimately decided on London-based Foster + Partners in collaboration with local firm Heller Manus. “The Foster brand with their creativity and mixed-use energy that they put into previous projects was something we were excited to hook up with,” Covarrubias said. “To say the least, they were really impressive in how they looked at it.”

The First and Mission project will be made up of two towers with 1.1 million square feet of office, 260,000 square feet of hotel, and 700,000 square feet of residential, which could accommodate close to 216 units of housing.

“The best way to do it as we see it is to have a design that’s fitting for the city and more importantly has a worldwide attractiveness, stature and uniqueness,” Covarrubias said.

TMG wants to put residential units in the top of the taller tower to provide the highest housing units in San Francisco.

Foster + Partners was founded by 78-year-old British architect Foster, who in 1999 became the 21st Pritzker Architecture Prize Laureate. The firm also designed the Apple Campus II in Cupertino and the Apple store on Union Square.

When the appointment was made, Foster, founder and chairman of Foster + Partners said in a statement, “The First and Mission towers are incredibly exciting in urban and environmental terms — bringing together places to live and work with the city’s most important transport hub … The super-sized office floor plates will give tenants a high degree of flexibility, and their open layout is supported by an innovative orthogonal structural system developed for seismic stability. … At ground level, the buildings are open, accessible and transparent. Their base provides a new ‘urban room’ for the region, and the new pedestrian routes through the site will knit the new scheme with the urban grain of the city.”

Heller Manus’ portfolio includes a variety of projects ranging from master plans to in-fill buildings, sleek highrise office towers and transportation facilities to historic and civic renovations.


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