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  #41  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2007, 5:06 AM
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Thumbs up Adding Some Pizzazz!

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In regards the new towers: I am pleased the current renters at Trinity Plaza will have new rent controlled units to live in as part of phase one of the new project; however when completed, the three-tower complex will be one ugly addition to the neighborhood. In effect, this porject is our generation's version of the Fox Tower Plaza, but in tripicate! Sure the old building needed to come down, but in an effort to please eveyone, little focus was spent on the grim open space, the real impact on transportation around Civic Center, the visual impact on neighboring buildings, etc.

In sum, it is very difficult to make 24-stories of punched concrete facades very interesting in a neighborhood that includes the new library, Asian Art Museum and the beautifully restored City Hall. Yet despite the beauty of these and many other structures nearby, one will sadly be drawn to this gargantuan aesthetic blunder of a building, much like one is unfortunately drawn to a wart or other large deformity on an otherwise beautiful face.
Quite the contrary--this is going to be a great development for our sometimes provincial city. We're fortunate that it's being designed by Arquitectonica. As long as what is built is good, San Francisco could use a more exciting and eclectic look in a number of areas.
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  #42  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2007, 6:14 PM
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this is absolutely the right place for a project like this... but what we've seen of the design so far is horrible, imho. funny colors and patterns don't go very far to disguise oppressive massing. i would guess the massing is driven by a developer trying to keep costs low, but in the end cheap buildings are cheap buildings.
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  #43  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2007, 8:22 PM
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How do you define "oppressive maassing?" Anything over three stories? In that case, there is always Pleasanton, I'm sure there is plenty of room there!
I actually find this far less oppressive massing because it is broken up to allow light through and there is a central open plaza. This is much more open than all the other skyscrapers in the vicinity, and it will be adding so many units.
For those who don't want density, don't live in a dense city, period.I don;t see why that is so hard to understand. California is full of beach towns filled with people who don't like to live in dense cities. Why some of those people come here I will never know.
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  #44  
Old Posted Apr 28, 2007, 9:52 PM
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this is absolutely the right place for a project like this... but what we've seen of the design so far is horrible, imho. funny colors and patterns don't go very far to disguise oppressive massing. i would guess the massing is driven by a developer trying to keep costs low, but in the end cheap buildings are cheap buildings.
These are not cheap buildings--if you want to see examples of those drive around the Sunset or other areas of town and look at the 1950's boxes that replaced nicer structures. A good example of a "cheap building" is also the old Del Webb Townehouse which currently sits on this site. The owner has even gone so far as to hire a well known architectural firm for its replacement.
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  #45  
Old Posted Apr 29, 2007, 6:29 PM
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How do you define "oppressive maassing?" Anything over three stories? In that case, there is always Pleasanton, I'm sure there is plenty of room there!
I actually find this far less oppressive massing because it is broken up to allow light through and there is a central open plaza. This is much more open than all the other skyscrapers in the vicinity, and it will be adding so many units.
For those who don't want density, don't live in a dense city, period.I don;t see why that is so hard to understand. California is full of beach towns filled with people who don't like to live in dense cities. Why some of those people come here I will never know.
i don't know where you're getting that i'm opposed to density or tall buildings - nothing could be further from the truth.

this is the right place for a dense project like this - my issue is with the massing of the 'towers'. too short, too broad, too many. but anyway, it's hard to tell exactly what the proposal is from some of the images. hopefully the site plan is more permeable than it looks from the renderings.
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  #46  
Old Posted Apr 30, 2007, 2:22 AM
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this is the right place for a dense project like this - my issue is with the massing of the 'towers'. too short, too broad, too many. but anyway, it's hard to tell exactly what the proposal is from some of the images. hopefully the site plan is more permeable than it looks from the renderings.


How is this biulding any different than all of the structures going up in Mission Bay/ SomA? Do you have the same feelings about those? I actually think these are less massed because of the open spaces and openess in the architecture instead of a block long 8 story building with no plaza or segmentation. The fact that these are all different colors or shapes will make it not oppressive but fun, visible, and modern.
What is all comes down to is the human scale and streete visibility, and this looks much more humane than what is there right now!
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  #47  
Old Posted Apr 30, 2007, 4:05 AM
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Aquitectonica definitely has a style... this just seems a little bit more Beijingy than San Francisco. Still cool though.
Ha, well both cities are communist.
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  #48  
Old Posted Apr 30, 2007, 6:10 AM
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Originally Posted by johnd View Post
In regards the new towers: I am pleased the current renters at Trinity Plaza will have new rent controlled units to live in as part of phase one of the new project; however when completed, the three-tower complex will be one ugly addition to the neighborhood. In effect, this porject is our generation's version of the Fox Tower Plaza, but in tripicate! Sure the old building needed to come down, but in an effort to please eveyone, little focus was spent on the grim open space, the real impact on transportation around Civic Center, the visual impact on neighboring buildings, etc.

In sum, it is very difficult to make 24-stories of punched concrete facades very interesting in a neighborhood that includes the new library, Asian Art Museum and the beautifully restored City Hall. Yet despite the beauty of these and many other structures nearby, one will sadly be drawn to this gargantuan aesthetic blunder of a building, much like one is unfortunately drawn to a wart or other large deformity on an otherwise beautiful face.
Thin elegant towers a la Rincon Hill will cost what those places cost: millions. You cannot provide housing for middle income people that way. The only way you can do it in San Francisco is with monster midrise housing like Trinity with minimal open space (because open space uses land and that drives up the price of the units) and even then it helps that the land has been owned for decades. I don't entirely agree with Flint that the Arquitectonica design is "fantastic" but I do agree that it is pretty good, all things considered and better than what almost any other architect would have done. I also think that the "visual impact on the neighboring buildings", if you focus on the ones in the adjacent street wall, is pretty good, really.

Finally, when you start talking about transportation around Civic Center, you really seem to go off the tracks. This building is on San Francisco's best-served transit corridor, bar none. If maximum housing density isn't suitable here, it isn't suitable anywhere in San Francisco. And in this case, there's a real plus to the density which is putting more middle class working citizens on the sidewalks of that part of Market St. before it get completely taken over by the homeless and the drug peddlers (many of whom take BART over from the East Bay to ply their wares in UN Plaza).

To me, Fox Plaza is guilty of two main infractions: (1) It replaced a gem which never should have been torn down and (2) The design both turns its back from the sidewalks (with its interior "mall") and badly aggravates the wind problem near its location. Otherwise, what's so bad about it? Trinity Plaza will certainly not replace anything we would want to preserve and I don't think the design will offend in respect of wind. I'm unclear on what ground-floor retail it might offer, so that could be an issue, but I just don't know.
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  #49  
Old Posted Apr 30, 2007, 6:21 AM
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How is this biulding any different than all of the structures going up in Mission Bay/ SomA?
I'm betting Trinity is in the economic sweet spot--tall enough to house a lot of people but not so tall as to be affected by the high cost structure of highrises. In that sense, buildings like The Infinity and One Rincon are too expensive to provide units affordable by anyone except SF's most affluent citizens whereas most of the buildings going up in Mission Bay seem to me to scarifice some density in the name of aesthetics (especially as seen by the Potrero Hill Dwellers who objected to taller buildings at UC)--that is, they could house more people more economically if they were a bit taller. Actually, though, the tallest buildings in MB like the Avalon rental buildings may also have a cost structure similar to Trinity.
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  #50  
Old Posted Apr 30, 2007, 6:30 AM
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Originally Posted by tyler82 View Post
How is this biulding any different than all of the structures going up in Mission Bay/ SomA? Do you have the same feelings about those? I actually think these are less massed because of the open spaces and openess in the architecture instead of a block long 8 story building with no plaza or segmentation. The fact that these are all different colors or shapes will make it not oppressive but fun, visible, and modern.
What is all comes down to is the human scale and streete visibility, and this looks much more humane than what is there right now!
this is really not the same animal as mission bay or any other development model in sf. throughout most of mission bay and this (not that i think mission bay is particularly great) a project might consist of a tower or two combined with mid rise or low rise buildings. this is the model from the transbay d4d as well, and it's what is being built at the infinity, one rincon, etc. trinity looks to me like a pretty much incoherent collection of 15 to 24 story slabs on mission, market, and 8th. the sexy view from the 'plaza' which really an interior court doesn't do much to disguise endless facades of square windows.

that market street facade, for example, looks to be 275 feet long and about 140 feet tall - and that's just ONE of the 'towers' in this project - the shortest of them. i would challenge you to find a residential project that massive in san francisco. it's generally not allowed, and for good reason.

i realize that these buildings are in part massed this way because they are CHEAP (and there are significant cost and approval time issues with going past 240 feet). the city needs mid-market housing desperately, but not this desperately.

hopefully the renderings don't do it justice and the real thing will be less oppressive.
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  #51  
Old Posted Apr 30, 2007, 8:01 AM
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Originally Posted by mthd View Post
i realize that these buildings are in part massed this way because they are CHEAP
PriceCrime!

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the city needs mid-market housing desperately, but not this desperately.
I disagree. After three miserable decades, Mid-Market is still the province of projectile vomiting-"homeless", stag theatres, and wholesale abandonment by the functional classes. You may wish to stave off the good to leave room for the perfect, but I think that is an ideology-fueled folly.
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  #52  
Old Posted May 4, 2007, 9:05 PM
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Finally, when you start talking about transportation around Civic Center, you really seem to go off the tracks. This building is on San Francisco's best-served transit corridor, bar none. If maximum housing density isn't suitable here, it isn't suitable anywhere in San Francisco.
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  #53  
Old Posted May 4, 2007, 9:33 PM
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Your right the location of Trinity is perfect for using the transpiration system. But my read of the EIR makes it seem as if MUNI underground would not be overly taxed by the addition of 1900 units at Civic Center. As someone who lives a block away from Trinity and rides MUNI to work every morning, the conclusion reached in the EIR just doesn't add up.

Riding MUNI at Civic Center during the morning rush hour is currently "manageable"; however, I am not certain this will be the case once the building is completed and somewhere between 200-400 people (my figures) descend on to the platform as part of the morning ritual.

Now growth in going to take place that is a fact of life; still, I don't think the city is correctly anticipating the impact on a much stressed system. Short of three car trains, I am not sure what can be done. What’s your solution?
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  #54  
Old Posted May 4, 2007, 9:36 PM
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Trinity and Transportation

Your right the location of Trinity is perfect for using the transpiration system. But my read of the EIR makes it seem as if MUNI underground would not be overly taxed by the addition of 1900 units at Civic Center. As someone who lives a block away from Trinity and rides MUNI to work every morning, the conclusion reached in the EIR just doesn't add up.

Riding MUNI at Civic Center during the morning rush hour is currently "manageable"; however, I am not certain this will be the case once the building is completed and somewhere between 200-400 people (my figures) descend on to the platform as part of the morning ritual.

Now growth in going to take place that is a fact of life; still, I don't think the city is correctly anticipating the impact on a much stressed system. Short of three car trains, I am not sure what can be done. What’s your solution?
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  #55  
Old Posted May 4, 2007, 9:54 PM
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What’s your solution?
What's the problem? You claim the project shall negatively impact Muni--but that is not obviously true.
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  #56  
Old Posted May 5, 2007, 7:17 AM
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Originally Posted by johnd View Post
Your right the location of Trinity is perfect for using the transpiration system. But my read of the EIR makes it seem as if MUNI underground would not be overly taxed by the addition of 1900 units at Civic Center. As someone who lives a block away from Trinity and rides MUNI to work every morning, the conclusion reached in the EIR just doesn't add up.

Riding MUNI at Civic Center during the morning rush hour is currently "manageable"; however, I am not certain this will be the case once the building is completed and somewhere between 200-400 people (my figures) descend on to the platform as part of the morning ritual.

Now growth in going to take place that is a fact of life; still, I don't think the city is correctly anticipating the impact on a much stressed system. Short of three car trains, I am not sure what can be done. What’s your solution?
sorry, but more riders on transit is a GOOD thing, not a bad thing. crowded trains are better than crowded freeways, and as a daily muni rider for the last decade (including the market street subway) i don't think that crowding between civic center and montgomery/embarcadero is anywhere near a serious problem. the 38 geary and 1 california are far more crowded.

the EIR considers the fact that of these 2500 people, not all will work, of those that work less than half will work downtown, of those some will ride the metro, some will ride bart, some will take the f-line, some will walk, some will ride bikes, some will grab the first buy they see on market street (9, 7, etc) some will walk over to mission and take the 14, etc etc etc etc. a system that handles 700,000 trips a day, with subway stations capable of handling around 50,000 trips a day each is not going to be visibly impacted by 2500 people. that's exactly why this is the right spot for a project of this size - the tremendous multiplicity of transit options.
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  #57  
Old Posted May 5, 2007, 7:39 AM
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^^^I pretty much agree with mthd but would add that one of the great hopes for housing along this stretch of Market St. is precisely that a high percentage of residents will WALK to work down Market itself and that that number of middle class consumers passing every day will revitalize some of the storefronts between 10th and 5th; take them out of the hands of
"adult megastore" operators and put them into the hands of people wanting to provide goods and services to neighborhood residents.

There is a very hopeful commentary about Civic Center by Jim Hass in the new issue of SF BizTimes entitled "New residential Neighborhood on the Rise" which I will post--probably in a new thread in the "Bay Area" section--on Sunday evening when I can copy/paste it. He points out that there is now under construction in Civic Center (projects like 77 Van Ness, the Argenta, 10th & Market, Symphony Towers, SOMA Grande and possibly The Hayes) "some 1600 units of housing with another 2300 units approved (mostly Trinity Plaza)." He also says "and additional 1500 to 2000 units are in planning." Furthermore, he says there are plans to upgrade both Van Ness and Civic Center Stations.

But, in any case, there are going to be 5000-6000 more housing units in Civic Center--possibly as many as 10,000 more people--and that will finally transform the area from "Camp Agnos" to something worthy of San Francisco's seat of government. I can't wait.
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  #58  
Old Posted May 25, 2007, 7:40 PM
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I don't think that the Adult Megashows are going to be that easy to get rid of, they make a ton of money and the sex attractions bring the city mega tourist money. Besides, I don't think they're too bad. They're vibrant and they have a life of their own. It's those horrible little rip off stores which line Market that bring the crime and other problems. Those I won't be sad to see gone, replaced with legit housing and storefronts.


When does construction begin exactly on Trinity???
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  #59  
Old Posted May 29, 2007, 3:43 AM
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Interesting rendering that makes clear something I wasn't clear about: the relationship of the 3 buildings:

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  #60  
Old Posted May 29, 2007, 3:47 AM
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And an old John King commentary I missed but that expresses the concerns of many of us:

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Here's hoping 1,900 new units don't add up to one big monster
John King
Tuesday, August 8, 2006

Only architects as sculpturally inventive as the ones at Arquitectonica could take an overstuffed political deal like 1177 Market St. and come up with a design that has the potential to be an energetic, counterintuitive triumph.

Now the question is whether Angelo Sangiacomo and his family have the resources and will to bring the potential to life -- and whether city officials will nudge them to do so in the first place.

How large are the stakes? Consider this: Sangiacomo wants to pile 1,900 apartments onto 4 acres at Eighth and Market streets in San Francisco. That's as many housing units as were added to the entire city in all but two of the past 15 years.

It's also nearly 500 more than Sangiacomo proposed in 2003 for the land now covered by the Trinity Plaza apartment complex. Back then, the project was pilloried by housing activists opposed to the loss of Trinity Plaza's 360 rent-controlled apartments. There were candlelight vigils and threats of ballot initiatives.

At Thursday's meeting of the City Planning Commission, though, size barely entered into the discussion -- because a deal was worked out. Sangiacomo, Supervisor Chris Daly and Randy Shaw of the Tenderloin Housing Clinic agreed that when Trinity Plaza is torn down, it would be replaced so the first phase includes 360 new units governed by rent control. The project, meanwhile, would grow from 1,410 to 1,900 units -- an increase in scale of more than one-third.

Now, people who decried the change embrace the change.

"I stand before you in complete confidence that this is going to be a great project," Ken Warner of the Trinity Plaza Tenants Association told the commission. "We're thrilled that Mr. Sangiacomo has taken such a step."

Lost in all the predictable back-patting -- and the equally predictable mau-mauing that we'll get to later -- is the fact that a chunk of the city near Civic Center is about to get 475 new units per acre. And because of voter-imposed shadow restrictions from the 1980s, the height limits are snug. The project starts at 150 feet at the corner of Eighth and Market streets and peaks at 232 feet at the site's southeast corner along Mission Street.

The simple truth is that the project is too dense. But the way Arquitectonica has dealt with the density is ingenious: the Miami firm has stacked the units atop each other like an assembly of children's rectangular blocks, no two of which are alike.

There are three buildings in the design that was approved Thursday, yet they read like a collision of shapes and colors. Some portions of the outer walls are clad in sandstone-colored masonry, others in silver painted metal panels, others in glass.

The 17-story building that lines Market Street has an 8-story-high portal punched into it that is lined with shops and leads to a public courtyard. Along Eighth Street, a 6-story-high and 5-apartment-wide piece is missing -- but topped by a 2-story-high bar of apartments laid across it north to south.

It's as if several blocks of the city had been pressed together and stripped of details, so that right-angled layer overlaps right-angled layer.

"We set out to design something that is modern and abstract but at the same time deals with the issues of breaking up the scale of a project of this magnitude," explained Bernardo Fort-Brescia, who founded Arquitectonica in 1977 with his wife, Laurinda Spear, and has experimented with cubistic modernism ever since.

And even though the result is like nothing San Francisco -- or pretty much any other city, for that matter -- has ever seen, the approach is blessed by San Francisco's increasingly open-minded planning department.

"We feel the design achieves a really great interplay among forms, among solid and voids," said Craig Nikitas, a senior planner. "It's a complement as well as a contrast to the existing setting" of this stretch of Market Street, a hodgepodge that ranges from the Orpheum Theater to undistinguished office slabs.

For most of the 4-hour hearing, though, architecture and urban design were barely on the agenda.

Instead, speakers attacked the proposal's 250 commercial parking spaces: the site now has 450, but under brand-new city ordinances the parking shouldn't be there at all. There also were vociferous protests that only 12 percent of 1177 Market's 1,540 non-rent-control apartments will be rented out at below-market levels, instead of the 15 percent required in a law about to be enacted -- though the 360 rent control units bring the number of subsidized apartments to 34 percent of the project.

It's classic San Francisco: eleventh hour posturing over largely symbolic issues.

When the project goes to the Board of Supervisors for a final vote, here's what I hope happens: somebody pays attention to the city of the future as well as the politics of the present.

In a perfect world, this proposal would go onto the architectural equivalent of a treadmill and sweat off 10 percent of its mass, so that things weren't quite so monolithic, along Eighth Street in particular. But if that's not going to happen, what's needed is quality control of the highest sort.

Although Arquitectonica's theatricality wouldn't work in a wide-open setting, this stretch of Market and Mission streets already is cluttered. Passers-by will see bits and pieces rather than the whole.

However, the layering of colors and shapes will only work if the end result truly feels like an urbanistic collage. If the project is built on the cheap, if we get flimsy stucco in a few quickly fading hues, the result will be blight on a grim, vast scale.


That's what politicians and watchdogs need to focus on now: making sure the developer and architects deliver what they promise. It may not be as fun as cutting deals, but it will help determine the livability of downtown San Francisco for generations to come.

Place appears on Tuesdays. E-mail John King, an occasional Tom Wolfe reader, at jking@sfchronicle.com.

http://sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cg...DGQVKBO1T1.DTL
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