Construction Progress, Rincon Hill / Transbay / South of Market, San Francisco, Skyline, Western Addition

Construction Progress: 9-10-2007

This is the first in a new series of posts that will depict the construction progress of new projects in the Bay Area. In general, I’ll stick to high-rise or major mid-rise developments, as well as more unique projects — for example, museums, theaters, or otherwise notable cultural buildings. Why would I ever want to do such a thing? Well, for one, I know for certain that I’m not the only person excited by the evolution and intensification of the Bay Area skyline and streetscape. More fundamentally, though, I simply love to see empty, abandoned, blighted lots (or parcels of land that are poorly utilized as surface level parking) given new life in the form of a building, thus adding density, energy and vibrancy to the neighborhood. Keeping track of these construction projects is simply another way to enjoy and anticipate the revitalization of the urban spaces of which these new buildings will be an integral part.

Most of this first post will be devoted to recently completed or largely complete projects, at least on the exterior. Later this week or early next week, I plan to write another post in this series, with photos of projects that are still not anywhere near completion, but which I’ll of course follow more later as they go up. The Construction Progress posts will most likely not follow any sort of regular schedule. Rather, they will appear a bit more irregularly, whenever I remember a couple projects that really ought to be documented.

Note: Unless otherwise noted, I personally snapped all the photos that appear in this post (or indeed, anywhere in this blog). Just a reminder: full-sized photos are hosted on my Flickr account. To see any of these pictures in full detail, just click through, and the link will take you to the relevant Flickr page. I will probably also include additional photos on Flickr that are not explicitly included in the blog post. My photography skills are amateur (at best), so the purpose of these photos is not to indulge in any advanced photographic experiments, but simply to document the rising of these new developments.

The only project in this particular post located comfortably outside of downtown is the Fillmore Heritage tower:


Located in the Western Addition at the corner of Fillmore and Eddy Streets (not far from but still definitely not located on the highly gentrified Pacific Heights stretch of Fillmore Street), this 13-story tower is part of a continuing experiment of putting market rate housing in rough-and-tumble neighborhoods known better for housing projects and gang turf wars. Notably, this tower contains in its ground floor a new branch of Yoshi’s Jazz Club. The word “heritage” in the name of the building is a nod to the Fillmore District’s history as a centerpiece of the Bay Area jazz scene in the years before redevelopment projects wrecked the Western Addition. Still, there is something fiercely ironic about this new jazz club making its home in a condo tower.

690 Market, at the corner of Kearny and Market, once the headquarters of the San Francisco Chronicle, will soon be home to the posh Ritz-Carlton Residences. The original structure, which dates from 1890, was designed by architect Daniel Burnham, who worked on several high-profile projects, including Manhattan’s famous Flatiron Building. This building is notable for many reasons — not only is it one of the few structures east of Van Ness to survive the 1906 earthquake, but it is also the first “skyscraper” in San Francisco to be constructed with a steel frame; not a skyscraper by modern standards perhaps, but it was the tallest thing around at the time it was built. The original structure and entryway to 690 Market have been preserved, but with additional stories added above:

tb_690market_1.jpg tb_690market_2.jpg

For reference, here is a picture of the original building, as it looked in 1890:


[Picture lifted from the Ritz-Carlton website.]

The two Infinity towers (300 Spear Street) and their associated mid-rise podium will add 658 housing units to Rincon Hill. The first tower (36 stories) has been constructed (left picture), while the second, taller tower (41 stories) has just recently begin construction (right picture):

tb_infinity1_1.jpg tb_infinity2_1.jpg

Just a few blocks from the Infinity towers is One Rincon Hill, the centerpiece of this area. Constructed in a prominent landmark location just a few feet from the Bay Bridge (left picture), the tower is finally getting topped off (right picture). These pictures denote only the taller of the two planned towers:

tb_one_rincon_bay_bridge.jpg tb_one_rincon_1st.jpg

Next, here are three angles on the Hotel Intercontinental at 5th and Howard Streets. From left to right, these views are from the west, the south, and the north:

tb_intercontinental_5st_west.jpg tb_intercontinental_5st_south.jpg tb_intercontinental_5st_north.jpg

The hotel is located next to Moscone Center and will no doubt prove to be popular with attendees of conferences and conventions in the area. Coming from the east (keeping in mind the context of the Metreon, Moscone, and Westfield) this hotel fits in rather well; however, approaching from the west side, the hotel is a sudden and stark contrast to its surroundings, acting as a clear demarcation point between the Yerba Buena district to the east and the rest of South of Market.

To close this post, here are two further additions to South of Market, near Civic Center. The recently completed Federal Building (left picture), shown in this picture rising ominously behind the older low-rise storefronts on Market Street, is understandably controversial, but I find its striking austerity to be a refreshing change. The other tower here is the SoMa Grand (1160 Mission) condo tower (right picture), a 246-unit development:

tb_sf_federal_bldg.jpg tb_soma_grand.jpg

These two buildings are oriented perpendicular to each other, in the same block bounded by Mission, Stevenson, 7th, and 8th Streets.

Although I hope to have a couple more posts before then, please be sure to check back later this week or early next week for a follow-up construction progress post featuring projects that are still further away from completion.




  1. Pingback: Congestion Pricing in the News « Transbay Blog - 19 September 2007

  2. Pingback: Construction Progress: 9-25-2007 « Transbay Blog - 25 September 2007

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