found this on the net while looking at John King's archived articles..I think the design is pretty cool.
An 850-foot-tall tower by architecture students Mariah Nielsen and Kwong-won Kim is envisioned for the Transbay Terminal. Photo courtesy of Mariah Nielsen
San Francisco-Somehow I didn't expect the architect of an 850-foot tall tower on San Francisco's Mission Street to hail from West Marin.
The wooded calm of Inverness or Point Reyes Station isn't the logical setting to breed a skyscraper that could be the world's tallest set of tweezers -- one that splits in two around the 30th floor, from there climbing another 50 stories or so, with a slender hotel staring across a slender void at slender condominiums.
But if Mariah Nielsen grew up in West Marin, she also traveled to Asia and Europe before hunkering down to study design at the California College of the Arts. Even if the design is fanciful -- and it is -- she represents a globe-infused future that may look far different from what we've come to know.
"I love the quality of San Francisco, but coming back from Asia, there's something practical about how those cities grow that's very much opposed to the United States,'' says Nielsen, who created the tower with design partner Kwong-won Kim in an ambitious design studio this fall. "Being from West Marin I'm really against sprawl. We should be growing up instead of out."
The odds that this tower gets built are on par with the odds that Matt Gonzalez and Gavin Newsom will trade grooming tips now that the election is over. But practicality is not why I spent Monday afternoon sorting through student visions of how the blocks around San Francisco's Transbay Terminal could be redeveloped into a high-density neighborhood. The point was to see how smart young people think urban design should evolve.
That evolution is already picking up speed, knocking aside the protective limits crafted during the past 30 years. Here in San Francisco, developers are clamoring to build residential towers between the Financial District and the Bay Bridge. Seattle's mayor wants to jettison height limits approved in the mid-1980s.
Migawd, the city of London -- home to Bertie Wooster and Sherlock Holmes -- has approved a tower next to the London Bridge that would be 1,000 feet tall.
But if the designs by Nielsen and the studio's other students are any indication, the city of tomorrow won't simply have extra stories piled atop the city of today.
They imagine a world where people live in a swirl of action that blurs traditional lines between public and private, street and block. The architecture isn't just a simple question of shape or style. There's an effort to break apart traditional buildings and create an environment where sensations fold in at all levels -- like multitasking come to life.
The creativity comes in the manner of living. One example: a live-work complex by Aron Eisenhardt and Jess Springer that would look from the air like a narrow V, with the living space in glass towers on one side of an atrium and the work space in concrete slabs on the other.
"There's a definite shift, no question, one that's just beginning to emerge. It's in the air," says Craig Hartman, who taught the studio. "Fifteen years ago, architecture was all about how do you replicate what history has ordained. Now, students are thinking about how architecture serves to orchestrate events."
To which skeptics will reply: Who's in Liz Smith's column today? Kids will be kids, right?
But Hartman is no black-clad lecturer who scorns the dreary bricks and mortar of everyday life. Far from it. In fact, he's probably San Francisco's most accomplished large-scale architect.
As a partner at the international firm Skidmore Owings Merrill, Hartman's local work includes the international terminal at San Francisco International Airport, the stylish 101 Second St. office tower and the restoration of the Federal Court of Appeals at Seventh and Mission streets. Next up: a new cathedral for the Diocese of Oakland.
Yet he carved out time over the past four months to teach a seminar where students puzzled over a real-life problem -- how to redevelop the Transbay Terminal area, transforming it from a motley patchwork of office space and parking lots into something that could flourish in unexpected ways.
"I wanted to explore some things you just can't do in a normal professional environment," explains Hartman, 53. "We have deadlines, clients. . .. Architecture is as much about trying to create consensus as about raw design talent. This was an opportunity to look beyond that."
What surprised me is that the designs show so little interest in fanfare; no blobs, no swirls, no exclamation points at odd angles.
"The students sensed they were immersed in relevant issues that the city itself is grappling with," suggests Rodolphe el-Khoury, who chairs the college's architecture department and led the studio with Hartman.
The tower crafted by Nielsen and Kim was deemed the best of the eight projects done by the studio's 15 students. It contains four-story-high interior parks; as for the tweezerlike form, it would be wrapped in some sort of screen so that it would stand on the skyline more like a draped sculpture than a stack of countless windows.
The notion of a veiled tower rising up and splitting in two doesn't exactly bring Victorians to mind.
"I'd love to drive from my house into the city and see amazing towers ahead of me," confesses Nielsen. "Since I've been studying architecture I've come to realize how conservative this city is, how difficult it is to be fresh or radical."
There are good reasons for tight reins, of course: Ask the people torn from their houses in countless cities by urban renewal in the 1950s and '60s.
But there's a case to be made for freshness, too.
San Francisco's natural environment is so striking that it needs vigilant care. But in terms of architecture and urban design, there's danger in being too protective, too dutiful. If all we do is mimic the past, there's a danger that we'll suffocate the very qualities that make San Francisco distinctive as a city.
So let the search for the city of tomorrow continue -- even if we rear back at some of the results.