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View Poll Results: Which transbay tower design scheme do you like best?
#1 Richard Rogers 39 7.89%
#2 Cesar Pelli 98 19.84%
#3 SOM 357 72.27%
Voters: 494. You may not vote on this poll

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  #261  
Old Posted Dec 22, 2006, 8:24 AM
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^^^

From SFGate.com article posted earlier:

"It is highly conceptual at this point," Mark Solit, a member of the development team, said of the project. "Conceptual in terms of our discussion with the city, and conceptual in terms of Renzo Piano Building Workshop's vision of what they think might be appropriate."


... This may or may not be encouraging news, but they did say that this is purely conceptual at this time. Meaning, that the final design could possibly be taller than even this. Perhaps at the levels that I predicted a while back.
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  #262  
Old Posted Dec 22, 2006, 8:28 AM
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^^^ sorry what were those hights that you said might be possible earlier?
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  #263  
Old Posted Dec 22, 2006, 8:43 AM
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^^^

You can find it on post #232, which is on the previous page (10). Those were my predictions for the three Transbay Towers, with the tallest (the Transbay Signature Tower) being around 1500'.
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  #264  
Old Posted Dec 22, 2006, 6:58 PM
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Sky's the limit South of Market
4 of developers' proposed high-rises would be taller than anything else in S.F.
John King, Chronicle Urban Design Writer
Friday, December 22, 2006

San Francisco developers are proposing to build the nation's tallest towers outside of New York and Chicago -- a pair of slender high-rises 350 feet taller than the Transamerica Pyramid.

The plan presented Thursday to the city's Planning Department envisions a cluster of thin towers rising from 2 acres at the northwest corner of First and Mission streets. The cluster would include two 1,200-foot towers, two 900-foot structures and a 600-foot companion.

Threaded between them would be an open plaza, covered passageways and a three-story building that is not part of the project.

By comparison, the Transamerica Pyramid is 853 feet high and the Bank of America building is 779 feet. The only U.S. buildings taller than those proposed Thursday are Sears Tower in Chicago and New York's Empire State Building, which are 1,451 feet and 1,250 feet respectively.

Though unprecedented for San Francisco, the proposal is in line with what city officials have been saying for months -- that extremely tall towers will be allowed on a handful of sites south of Market Street. But details of the project are likely to change during the city's review process, which could take at least two years.

Indeed, one member of the development team on Thursday described the "environmental evaluation application" presented to the city as "a placeholder."

"It is highly conceptual at this point," said Mark Solit, the lead developer. "Conceptual in terms of our discussion with the city, and conceptual in terms of the architects' vision of what they think might be appropriate."

The site is across from the Transbay Terminal, itself the focus of a skyscraper design competition seeking what the guidelines describe as "an iconic presence that will redefine the city's skyline." As many as a half-dozen teams are rumored to be putting together bids.

City planners earlier this year suggested raising building heights around the terminal as a way to attract projects that in turn would generate tax revenue. That money could then be used for the terminal and related transit projects such as an extension of commuter rail lines from the Peninsula.

The lead architect for the proposed cluster of towers is Renzo Piano of Italy, who also is doing the new home of the California Academy of Sciences in Golden Gate Park.

Piano has likened the design approach to bamboo shoots rising from the ground, with different pieces stopping at different heights. The two tallest would be on First Street -- rising 1,200 feet on either side of the Jessie Street alleyway.

The height would be accented even more by the narrow dimensions of each tower. On the top 300 feet of the tallest towers, the floors would measure just 8,000 square feet -- less than half the size of the upper floors one block away at Fremont Center. That 600-foot-high office tower is currently the tallest high-rise south of Market Street.

The development site is now parking lots and four six-story buildings built in the decade after the 1906 earthquake.

According to the application, the new buildings would contain 600 residential units, 470 hotel rooms, 520,000 square feet of office space and a small amount of ground-floor retail space. However, Solit said, the final mix would evolve along with the project.

Any project of this scale will require detailed studies of how the buildings will affect the wind and block sunlight, as well as engineering studies to confirm that such tall, narrow towers can withstand a major earthquake.

During the past week, Solit and other members of the development team have shown the project to Supervisors Chris Daly and Aaron Peskin and members of Mayor Gavin Newsom's administration. Full architectural details are not expected before summer.

"If we're going to do these kinds of heights, this is the place," said Daly, who also is a member of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, which will oversee construction of a new terminal. "I like how the project works on the ground -- it's very porous and attractive to people on the street."

Daly suggested the most controversial aspect of the proposal could be the twin 1,200-foot towers.

"Every American is going to look at them and think of 9/11," he said.

Whatever form the project eventually takes, it shows that decision-makers no longer see dramatic building heights as something to avoid.

This wasn't the case in the decades after the Transamerica Pyramid began construction in 1970; that concrete spike at the foot of Columbus Avenue crystallized opposition to the transformation of San Francisco's skyline. An urban design plan the next year capped heights at 700 feet, and a 1986 update sliced off another 100 feet.

In recent years, though, the city has allowed residential towers in areas that before were kept low -- such as the towers now rising north of the Bay Bridge. Three are under construction, and two will top 600 feet.

San Francisco isn't the only city where the sky is now the limit.

Piano has 1,000-foot buildings in the works for the centers of both London and Boston -- two cities once as tower-wary as San Francisco. In Paris, a 984-foot tower proposal was announced last month for a site 3 miles west of the Eiffel Tower. The architect is Thom Mayne of Santa Monica, who designed the soon-to-open federal complex at Seventh and Mission streets in San Francisco.
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  #265  
Old Posted Dec 24, 2006, 9:37 PM
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Regarding the Transbay Tower and Transit Terminal:

From GlobeSt.com:

Deadline Comes for Transbay Terminal Bids
By Brian K. Miller


SAN FRANCISCO-A host of high-profile developers and architects beat Thursday’s registration deadline to bid for the right to design and develop a new Downtown transit terminal and 80-story mixed-use tower that will eclipse the Transamerica Pyramid by 150 feet. Two hundred people representing 120 firms worldwide attended a pair of required pre-bid conferences at the Herbst Theater in recent weeks.

The new Transit Center will replace the outdated Transbay bus terminal on First and Mission streets in Downtown San Francisco and connect the Bay Area and the rest of the state by serving eight transit systems including: AC Transit, BART, Caltrain, MUNI, Golden Gate Transit, Greyhound, SamTrans and future High-Speed Rail from San Francisco to Los Angeles. Surrounding the transit center and tower will be a new transit-friendly neighborhood including 3,400 new homes, widened sidewalks, outdoor space, cafes, offices and retail locations. The next deadline for the competition is Jan. 11, when registrants must detail their design and development teams as part of their formal response to the RFQ.

Word of some partnerships is already emerging. Locally based Skidmore Owings & Merrill is reportedly partnering with the Rockefeller Group of New York City; Cleveland-based Forest City Enterprise is said to be joining forces with London-based “starchitect” Richard Rogers and locally based SMWM; Boston Properties is allegedly holding hands with Zurich-based Santiago Calatrava and locally based Kenwood Investments; and locally based developer TMG Partners is said to be working with New York City-based Related Cos., London-based Foster & Partners and locally based Heller/Manus Architects. Other well-known firms who had representatives at the pre-bid conferences include Bovis Lend Lease, Babcock & Brown, MacFarlane Partners, Beacon Capital Partners, Shorenstein Cos., Hines, Turner Construction and Zimmer Gunsul Frasca.

Responses to the RFQ will be reviewed by a jury of seven design, development and transit professionals. The jury will name finalists on Feb. 15. The finalists will submit full proposals by Aug. 10 and the jury will recommend a winner by Aug. 25, when the Transbay Joint Powers Authority Board will make a final determination. Construction is expected to begin in 2009.

The jury includes Robert Campbell, a Pulitzer Prize-winning architecture critic for the Boston Globe; Hsin-Ming Fung, principal and co-founder of Hodgetts + Fung Design and a full professor at California State Polytechnic University’s School of Environmental Design; Susan L. Handy, a Professor in the Department of Environmental Science and Policy at the University of California at Davis; Oscar Harris, founder and CEO of Turner Associates Architects and Planners Inc.; Arthur Johnson, vice president of KPFF Consulting Engineers; Jerry Keyser, chairman of the board at Keyser Marston; and Allison G. Williams, design principal for Perkins & Will.

Following final selection by the TJPA Board, the TJPA will enter into a design contract directly with the lead design architect and its design and engineering team for the transit center. The TJPA will separately enter into a development agreement with the developer for the transit tower project, including the same lead design architect and the tower A/E team.
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  #266  
Old Posted Jan 17, 2007, 8:30 PM
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Regarding the fairly new news of Piano's proposals, I think it would be wise to modify the title of the thread to avoid confusion, I as I had, from (1000+', 800+', 800+') to just (1000+', 850+').
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  #267  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2007, 4:38 PM
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- SAN FRANCISCO -

Less razzle-dazzle, more subtlety needed for high-stakes Transbay Terminal design

John King

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Today's a big day for San Francisco and the Bay Area, whether or not you know it.

By big I mean big -- and tall.

Five of the world's best architects -- flanked by financiers and engineers and who knows who else -- will take turns making the case that they're the ideal choice to design a tower that could change the look of San Francisco for decades to come.

As someone who believes in the transformative potential of great architecture, I'm excited that each one is here. But I also hope that, as they joust for position in the hours and months to come, this thought lodges in the back of their minds: San Francisco doesn't need an exclamation point. It needs a supple and subtle vision -- on the ground as well as the sky -- that stands as a symbol of what sustainable, elegant urbanity can be.

The architects will be wooing a jury assembled by the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, a government body created to summon a new mass-transit station to life. And, as the station and related work will cost an estimated $983 million if everything goes smoothly between now and the hoped-for 2014 opening day, the first job is to find ways to pay for it.

Which brings us to the competition and what very well could be the most high-stakes land deal in San Francisco in our lifetime.

The deal is this: The Transbay Authority, on Feb. 15, will decide which teams of designers and developers will be invited to make formal proposals on transforming the site of the current terminal on Mission Street, between First and Fremont streets. The authority will act on recommendations from a seven-member review jury, which will spend 90 minutes with each team today and then deliberate on Wednesday.

The winner is to be selected in August. That team will design a terminal that can handle buses and commuter trains while serving as the emerging Transbay District's centerpiece. The team will also design and build a tower that the competition rules specify should be "an iconic presence that will redefine the city's skyline and provide additional financing" to make the terminal a reality.

The competition emphasizes the "lead designer's ... capacity to deliver a high-rise, mixed-use development project that combines exceptional design and financial success."

In other words, the expectations are as high as the stakes. Each of the five teams pairs a top-flight developer and a top-flight architectural firm. Even though today's interviews require only the presentation of qualifications, the razzle-dazzle is sure to flow.

Sir Norman Foster and his architectural firm have produced some of the most breathtakingly original towers in the world and a series of suave and streamlined London subway stations. Sir Richard Rogers is a master of glassy structures in a high-tech vein, and his firm's airport terminal in Barajas, Spain, was awarded the 2006 Stirling Prize, England's top architectural honor.

Cesar Pelli has less of an identifiable style, but his towers can be as refined as custom suits (including 560 Mission St., one of San Francisco's most elegant recent towers). Last but not least: Santiago Calatrava, who's best known for audacious bridges but also has a residential tower in Sweden nicknamed the Turning Torso because of its torqued shape.

(An aside: Each globe-trotting name has a local partner. Foster + Partners is aligned with Heller-Manus Architects, Richard Rogers Partnership with SMWM, Pelli Clarke Pelli with WRNS Studio, and Calatrava with Chong Partners and KMD Architects.)

The one local team is the San Francisco office of Skidmore Owings and Merrill; Craig Hartman will take the lead in collaboration with Brian Lee. Neither has star power, but they do have excellent buildings to their credit. Hartman, for instance, designed the United States Embassy that will open next year in Beijing as well as San Francisco's St. Regis tower.

To see architects of this caliber do battle is startling; it's also a tribute to San Francisco. Sure, San Jose has more people and the 49ers are packing up to leave. From the global perspective, though, we're on the map as one of the nation's key cities (I'd put it behind only New York, Chicago and, yes, Los Angeles). Leave your mark here and you'll launch a million postcards.

The catch is, there's more to life than postcards.

Unlike Malmo, Sweden -- home to the Turning Torso -- San Francisco doesn't need an eye-popping icon to put itself on the map. And neither the tight Transbay site nor the increasingly crowded South of Market skyline allows for the strapping muscularity of some of the towers that Foster and Rogers have designed.

On the ground, meanwhile, we don't need a gold-plated terminal that would bankrupt Bill Gates. Better to have an alluring triumph of minimalism that dazzles the eye, functions smoothly and, wait for it, maybe even trims that $983 million price tag a bit.

That's the real challenge for the architects and teams who each will put their case before the jury.

Yes, there's no better site in San Francisco for a new tower that would shoot past the Transamerica Pyramid in height. It absolutely should be memorable. It should bristle with imagination.

But this is also a case where less is more. Rein in the ego and concentrate instead on ingenious designs that seduce without putting on a show. Think about how to define a new template of urbanity: one where vertical pizzazz, enticingly efficient mass transit and truly civil public space all are inextricably linked.

Another thing: The competition rules call for an emphasis on environmentally friendly architecture. Don't treat this as a requirement, but as a challenge. Integrate notions of sustainability and green design into every facet of the project. Live lightly on the land even as you soar high above the earth.

San Francisco and the Bay Area have the chance to benefit from some of the most ingenious and far-sighted minds in architecture. But we also have the responsibility to demand that they produce their very best -- whoever they might turn out to be.
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  #268  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2007, 6:03 PM
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John King - you are the man!!!

That is exactly how I feel. San Francisco is already a grand city, it doesn't need a 'monument to the architect' - it needs something tasteful that will enhance, not warp, the city.

I just hope the people calling the shots feel the same way!

This is one of those projects that comes along once every what, 50 years or so? I just hope in 50 years, we will look back and think, "Yeah, we did the right thing" (for example, Transamerica) - not, "What were we thinking!!!"
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  #269  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2007, 6:29 PM
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Thank God East Bay John King is just a nit picky mumbler with no real power or clout. I really question his taste of aesthetics (after all, this is the same guy who lauded the look of a big box TARGET building in the east bay). This kind of "average" mentality is just what is WRONG with San Francisco. This city, in terms of its urbanity and downtown, has been too average for too long. We need something beautiful and artsy that will ATTRACT worldwide attention and recognition that this city deserves.

I do'nt get people's mentalities that "average is better." Those kind of people don't come to San Francisco, they stay in their average suburban towns driving their average Ford cars eating their average frozen foods. San Francisco ISN'T average, and all those who want to make it so, please leave !!
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  #270  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2007, 7:38 PM
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If buildings were cars, I wouldn't want another Ford in San Francisco. The lot is already packed with old Taurus's and Tempos. I want a Ferrari!
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  #271  
Old Posted Jan 30, 2007, 10:21 PM
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I sent John a letter voicing my strong disagreement with his article. San Francisco is drowning in mediocrity. This is a once in a lifetime opp. to develop what will likely be the only sites in the city to support these kind of buildings. The last thing we need is more of the same crap. The only buildings in SF which have registered anything on the national scale are buildings which have been outside of the reach of the SF public (de young and federal building)
Yes San Francisco has a gorgeous physical setting. No, that does not mean we have to dumb down our architecture. We have the possibility here of creating something which doesnt exist in SF today - and I hope the people involved in this project get that.
Can you imagine an architecture critic in Chicago championing subtle design for "the most high-stakes land deal in ... in our lifetime"
John King is a joke.
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  #272  
Old Posted Jan 31, 2007, 12:08 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craeg View Post
I sent John a letter voicing my strong disagreement with his article. San Francisco is drowning in mediocrity. This is a once in a lifetime opp. to develop what will likely be the only sites in the city to support these kind of buildings. The last thing we need is more of the same crap. The only buildings in SF which have registered anything on the national scale are buildings which have been outside of the reach of the SF public (de young and federal building)
Yes San Francisco has a gorgeous physical setting. No, that does not mean we have to dumb down our architecture. We have the possibility here of creating something which doesnt exist in SF today - and I hope the people involved in this project get that.
Can you imagine an architecture critic in Chicago championing subtle design for "the most high-stakes land deal in ... in our lifetime"
John King is a joke.

I'm on your side! I don't even live on the West Coast but I did get the opportunity to tour San Francisco- I was very impressed by the city. Speckled with icons already, the last thing San Fran needs is another TransAmer, Ferry Building or Golden Gate -- what it needs is something that makes a larger statement -something revolutionary. As some of the worlds most valuable developable land at our disposal lets ensure its potential is maximized. All eyes on San Fran!
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  #273  
Old Posted Jan 31, 2007, 12:39 AM
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In reference to my last post, this is the target store that John King described as, I kid you not, "Industrial Chic" (although from this angle the building doens't look that bad, but from far away, it is what it is- an architectural monstrosity)



This one he described as sporting "a jazzy new cloak of many colors"



And then there's this one in Napa, which he quotes as "a pop art version of a rustic Tuscan estate incorporates faux stonework smeared in thick grout and ornate wooden eaves"


Umm, who hired this guy??

Last edited by tyler82; Jan 31, 2007 at 12:46 AM.
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  #274  
Old Posted Jan 31, 2007, 1:19 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tyler82 View Post
Thank God East Bay John King is just a nit picky mumbler with no real power or clout. I really question his taste of aesthetics (after all, this is the same guy who lauded the look of a big box TARGET building in the east bay). This kind of "average" mentality is just what is WRONG with San Francisco. This city, in terms of its urbanity and downtown, has been too average for too long.
I've never understood his infatuation with 560 Mission either.



I mean it's essentially a big, black refrigerator. A classic "international style" mediocrity. But what is even more to be feared is that the guy who designed THIS corporate blandness



is the lead architect on one of the TransBay teams (SOM). Frankly, they may be a local outfit, but I think SOM is responsible for a disproportionate share of mediocre SF buildings already.
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  #275  
Old Posted Jan 31, 2007, 1:45 AM
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It seems like every article this guy writes, he turns more people against himself. The Transbay Tower needs to be something thats nothing short of extraordinary. Definately not like anything we have now, and something that re-writes the books on SF architecture. Even new towers like Millenium, that look very impressive, should look mediocre in comparison to Transbay.
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  #276  
Old Posted Jan 31, 2007, 3:26 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by tyler82 View Post
In reference to my last post, this is the target store that John King described as, I kid you not, "Industrial Chic" (although from this angle the building doens't look that bad, but from far away, it is what it is- an architectural monstrosity)



This one he described as sporting "a jazzy new cloak of many colors"



And then there's this one in Napa, which he quotes as "a pop art version of a rustic Tuscan estate incorporates faux stonework smeared in thick grout and ornate wooden eaves"


Umm, who hired this guy??


Great Job! I think this Target is handsome in its industrial flavor. Unique design for a typically cookie-cutter outfit.
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  #277  
Old Posted Jan 31, 2007, 3:58 AM
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Originally Posted by BTinSF View Post
I've never understood his infatuation with 560 Mission either.



I mean it's essentially a big, black refrigerator. A classic "international style" mediocrity. But what is even more to be feared is that the guy who designed THIS corporate blandness...
I actually really like 560 Mission. The colors of black and dark green work very well together and are unique to SF, and up close, it has very nice details and texture. I don't particularly agree with his position in the article though. A supertall should have a distinctive design, and if that means having ornate detail in a specific design, then so be it.
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  #278  
Old Posted Jan 31, 2007, 4:14 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by BTinSF View Post
I mean it's essentially a big, black refrigerator. A classic "international style" mediocrity. But what is even more to be feared is that the guy who designed THIS corporate blandness
...
is the lead architect on one of the TransBay teams (SOM). Frankly, they may be a local outfit, but I think SOM is responsible for a disproportionate share of mediocre SF buildings already.
i think that's an incredibly unfair characterization and pretty ignorant of the nature of a practice like SOM. 1 bush and 1 maritime are among the finest buildings on the west coast. the current generation of SOM buildings - the international terminal, 101 second street, st regis can hardly be characterized as 'bland.'

there may be reasons to dislike st regis, but 'blandness' is not one.



do you really think this is a mediocre building? :

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  #279  
Old Posted Jan 31, 2007, 5:42 AM
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San Francisco has a long and deep history of its people expressing concern for the future of their beloved city. This history continues, and will continue, just as it has for more than one and a half century of its existence. It is the nature of San Francisco. John King expresses concern that the new tallest towers could be too excessively tall and extravagant, in contrast to what is already there. San Francisco already has features and qualities that are unique and world renown, and does not need more.

This may seem a plausible view, but I still think San Francisco should not fall behind the rest of the world in architecture. Why shouldn't San Francisco be even more beautiful and unique with new very tall, glitzy, but tasteful towers? Let us not forget the rallies against the design and construction of the Golden Gate Bridge and the Transamerica Pyramid before they were built. Their eventual outcomes need no explanation here.

Be thankful that John King is not a member of any decision making organization involved with Transbay. Be thankful he may have very little, if any influence on the outcome of this, or any other large building project anywhere. The only danger is King’s potential influence on public opinion, but is that really a danger? We may also not have much influence either, but if the decision makers are doing their homework, they should know the views of John King and others with different views as well. Our views are available for anyone to read here, just as easily as John King's.
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  #280  
Old Posted Jan 31, 2007, 6:33 AM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by craeg View Post
I sent John a letter voicing my strong disagreement with his article. San Francisco is drowning in mediocrity. This is a once in a lifetime opp. to develop what will likely be the only sites in the city to support these kind of buildings. The last thing we need is more of the same crap. The only buildings in SF which have registered anything on the national scale are buildings which have been outside of the reach of the SF public (de young and federal building)
Yes San Francisco has a gorgeous physical setting. No, that does not mean we have to dumb down our architecture. We have the possibility here of creating something which doesnt exist in SF today - and I hope the people involved in this project get that.
Can you imagine an architecture critic in Chicago championing subtle design for "the most high-stakes land deal in ... in our lifetime"
John King is a joke.
I took it as a call for building something special and carefully designed - not something bland. I think his point is NOT to build something trendy and edgy, but something elegant, timeless, and just amazing.

Obviously, I interpreted his article differently than many of you.
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