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

Evolving Skyline: 2-12-2008

One of my favorite features of San Francisco’s downtown street map, two grids meeting at a diagonal, is that looking down just about any street yields a view not only of a streetwall, but also of a cross-sectional sliver of the skyline, offset at an angle. Now that Rincon Hill and South of Market are quite literally on the rise, these cross-sectional views from streets north of Market are being accentuated in new ways, as blank spaces of sky above older mid-rise buildings are captured and brought within the urban form:


555 Mission (from Geary and Jones)

301 Mission (from Jackson Square)
One Rincon Hill (from Turk and Van Ness)
(As usual, just click through for full-sized images on Flickr.)

Thirty-three story office tower 555 Mission topped off a couple months ago. The 645-foot Millennium Tower at 301 Mission, to be the tallest residential building west of the Mississippi River, just topped off last week. These may be the newest examples, but they represent only the beginning of the wave that will wash over South of Market in the next couple of decades, reinventing the identity of a neighborhood once better-known for its parking lots and ramps leading on and off the Bay Bridge.

Manhattanization? Some continue to cling to a knee-jerk disdain of high rises, but as we work to embrace ever-smarter growth, this concept seems increasingly embittered and outdated. But rest assured: San Francisco will never be Manhattan, and Rincon Hill is more directly inspired by Vancouver in any case. Then again, partial emulation of one of this country’s most successful urban locales is not really such a bad thing either. Whatever label you want to attach, the densifying city can be a beautiful sight.



7 thoughts on “Evolving Skyline: 2-12-2008

  1. The Millennium Tower looks amazing – the views from it will be unparalleled in the area…though you’ll need another 200 ft of vertical to truly kick off the Manhattanization:

    Posted by Doug Cress | 12 February 2008, 9:02 am
  2. Doug: not to worry, if proposed towers’ full height is approved, we’ll be getting 500+ more feet of vertical in some years!

    Posted by Eric | 12 February 2008, 9:46 am
  3. Eric, did you happen to catch this Trevor Boddy piece on resistance to infill in (gasp!) Vancouver?

    I mention it because it includes (as the last line in the column) the ultimate last word on urbanization:

    “Cities are green machines.”

    Posted by Steve | 12 February 2008, 9:55 am
  4. Steve, I hadn’t seen that article, thanks for the link. Excellent closing line there.

    An increasing sentiment against density in Vancouver is really disappointing. Vancouver’s progressive attitude towards these issues has really set it apart from the crowd, and it’s been a good model for here, at least in broad outlines. Though I guess we’ll have to see how Rincon turns out first, to be sure!

    Posted by Eric | 12 February 2008, 10:47 am
  5. really great post. I love looking down across market street from the ‘loin.

    Posted by duncan.idaho | 12 February 2008, 10:17 pm
  6. Nice shots. I agree with you on these new buildings. I can’t quite decide which I like best: Infinity, Millennium or 555 Market. They all appeal to me in different ways. I say bring us more of those!

    Posted by peanut gallery | 28 February 2008, 5:26 pm
  7. Of course, I meant 555 Mission.

    Posted by peanut gallery | 28 February 2008, 11:16 pm

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