The view from Alamo Square that rivals other tourist attractions in San Francisco like the Golden Gate Bridge is witnessing a change to the city’s skyline. The panorama of the Bay Area admired from the square – from the famous row of pastel-coloured Victorian-style houses to the iconic TransAmerica Pyramid – has come to include a new skyscraper: the Salesforce Tower.
Recently inaugurated, the glistening skyscraper has transformed the face of the city. The curvy, 61-storey building takes from TransAmerica the title of tallest structure in the city, reaching 1,070 feet at the tip of its decorative crown.
Salesforce Tower: San Francisco’s new look
Originally planned as the Transbay Tower by real estate developer Hines before the global financial crisis in 2007, the project was sold to Boston Properties, which made a 15-year and 714,000-square-foot tenant lease with Salesforce in 2014 for $560 million.
With its foundations resting on a landfill site near the original city waterfront, an area at high risk of earthquakes, the engineers designed a structure capable of withstanding enormous and violent stress by drilling 42 piles into the ground 300 feet deep.
The offices of the cloud computing company are only the first example of how the face of the city is being redesigned.
Urban planning: big projects for the city’s renewal
San Francisco’s infrastructure rebirth involves a series of urban re-development projects that have already been earmarked for billions of dollars in funding.
The first event on the calendar occurs in 2019 with three openings: the Chase Center, a 18,000-seat arena which will be home to the Golden State Warriors; a subway stop nearby; and a shopping center with 100,000 square feet of retail space.
The projects are part of a larger plan called Mission Bay that aims to re-launch the old industrial and port areas of the city. Its impact will be enormous, because the master plan covers an area of 4.4 million square feet, and the construction of new offices, workshops, research centres and medical campuses, as well as hotels, public spaces, schools and libraries.
Another big real estate development is underway at Parkmerced, which calls for the modernisation of a 152-acre site on the southeast edge of the city. The construction of 230,000 square feet of commercial real estate, 80,000 square feet of office space, and 60,000 square feet of parks and public areas should finish in 2035. Some of the new residential units are already inhabited and the first stage of this $1.35-billion project should be finished in 2022.
Transportation, a crucial role in San Francisco’s future
Along with a facelift of new buildings, green spaces and meeting places, the city absolutely needs to renew its transport system. San Francisco is in fourth place for the world’s most congested streets. According to a survey cited by the news outlet San Francisco Business Times 70% of residents would be willing to pay higher taxes if it meant solving the snarling traffic.
Aware of the problem, both city officials and private investors are undertaking a series of projects to improve public urban mobility.
The most important of these is the Transbay Transit Center, a $2.5-billion project that will be completed in 2030. It will be an enormous urban transport hub receiving millions of Bay Area passengers every year.
The center, which includes a five-storey building with a rooftop park and an underground train station, will be a multi-modal facility serving downtown San Francisco with connections between the subway, buses, trains and – according to forecasts – a high-speed rail link from San Francisco to Los Angeles in 2029. This new logistical pole should serve 100,000 people each day and 45 million each year.
The Transbay Transit Center is the latest incarnation of the Transbay Terminal’s long history, which started in 1939 as a terminal for trains crossing the bridge. Train service was discontinued for a few years and the terminal was reconfigured for bus traffic. Trains started running again in 1974 with the advent of BART, the city subway that runs under Market Street.
Today’s Transbay will be reconfigured as an ultra modern transport hub that is part of a larger plan known as the Transbay Redevelopment Area, that aims to relaunch the entire neighbourhood. This new urban development will cost $4.5 billion, hosting 2,500 new residences, three million square feet of office and retail space across three towers.
In 10 years’ time, from the top of these towers, people will be able to admire a new skyline as stunning as the old one, but more modern and functional for its residents.