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What Makes San Francisco's Newest Giants Unique

San Francisco’s skyline is undergoing massive change. We took a look at some of the towers under construction to see what sets them apart and how they will be among the most energy-efficient, seismically sound and uniquely designed buildings in the Bay Area.

Salesforce Tower


Height: 1,070 feet
Expected Completion: Q4 2017
Developer: Boston Properties and Hines
Engineers: WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff, Arup, Magnusson Klemencic Associates
Architect: Pelli Clarke Pelli; Kendall/Heaton Associates (production architect) 
Commercial Broker: CBRE

Salesforce Tower (above as seen from 181 Fremont’s penthouse) will become the defining feature of San Francisco’s skyline. The tower, which now rises above Transamerica Pyramid, offers a smooth, dome shape that is unlike any other building in the city. The building also contains enhanced seismic safety, including 42 5-by-10 steel-reinforced concrete load-bearing elements extending from the foundation into bedrock.

The 1.4M SF office building features 13-feet-tall unfinished ceilings, 10-feet-high drop ceilings and 10-feet-tall continuous clear glass windows. Tenants will have a column-free interior and an enhanced HVAC system that will be 40% more energy efficient than a standard office building. The tower will include 7k SF of retail space on the ground and fifth floors. The top 150 feet of the tower will feature the highest public art installation in the US.

The 61-story behemoth at 415 Mission St is expected to be topped off in March with shell work completed during the second quarter. Occupancy will begin during the fourth quarter. Salesforce has leased the bottom 40% of the tower, the most difficult area to lease.

181 Fremont

Heller Manus Architects designed 181 Fremont in San Francisco.

Height: 802 feet
Expected Completion: 2017
Developer: Jay Paul Co
Engineers: Arup; WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff 
Architect: Heller Manus Architects; Hornberger + Worstell (residential architects); Orlando Diaz-Azcuy (residential interior designer)
Commercial Broker: Newmark Cornish & Carey (office); The Mark Co (residential)

181 Fremont, which topped off late last year, is among the most uniquely designed and resilient towers in San Francisco. Its exoskeleton goes beyond aesthetics to provide the main support system for the building, allowing for a column-free and open interior, according to building architect Heller Manus Architects.


The building contains two giant substructures, on the second and 37th floors, which help absorb the entire vertical weight of the building and allow for the ground floor and amenity level to be column free. The amenity center (above) on the 37th floor has been set back and breaks up the façade. This helps to disrupt the aerodynamic flow around the building, requiring less steel to resist wind force.

The building can withstand a massive earthquake and severe windstorm and uses shock absorbers at the steel nodes to reduce sway. The foundation shafts were bored 263 feet below street level into bedrock, and the building has yet to settle an inch. The building is REDi-certified Gold. Its spire features an Electronically Activated Steamer Emission system to dissipate lightning strikes, which will help reduce the risk of electrical malfunction during large storms.

The mixed-use tower has been LEED Platinum pre-certified and contains a plethora of energy-efficient features. The sawtooth glass design cuts down on solar gain by 6% and there is on-site greywater recycling and co-generation. The building will also be the first to contain evacuation elevators.

The building will contain 55 luxury condos and 12 accessory suites within the top 17 floors and 435k SF of Class-A+ office space, 2,480 SF of retail and a direct connection to the yet-to-be-built City Park. The office space will contain column-free open floor plans, 12.4-foot open ceilings, floor-to-ceiling glass curtain walls and advanced technological features.

Oceanwide Center

Rendering of Oceanwide Center

Height: 910 feet (Tower 1); 625 feet (Tower 2)
Expected Completion: 2021
Developer: Oceanwide Holdings
Engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates (structural); Foster + Partner/Taylor Engineering/Engineering Enterprise (M+E engineer)
Architect: Foster + Partners and Heller Manus Architect

Oceanwide Center, which broke ground late last year, will contain two towers, one of which will be the second-tallest tower in the city. Both towers contain foundations on large-diameter shafts drilled into Franciscan formation bedrock 207 feet below grade.

The 910-foot, 61-story tower on First Street will offer 109 high-end condos atop 1M SF of office with large floor plates. The tower features a crystalline form as part of its façade and the ground floor will offer a landscaped plaza. The tower is targeting LEED Platinum certification. The 54-story Mission Street tower will include a 171-room Waldorf Astoria San Francisco and Peacock Alley bar as well as 156 high-end units. This tower's design reinterprets the traditional bay window and will contrast with the tower’s classic stone façade. It will target LEED Gold certification.

The Urban Plaza, designed by Kathryn Gustafson, will provide a public area with green parklets, vendor stalls, walkways, outdoor seating, a bike hub and special events terrace.

Park Tower at Transbay

Rendering of Park Tower at Transbay in San Francisco

Height: 605 feet
Expected Completion: 2018
Developer: John Buck, Golub and MetLife
Engineer: WSP | Parsons Brinckerhoff 
Architect: Goettsch Partners and Solomon Cordwell Beunz
Commercial Broker: JLL

Park Tower at Transbay’s foundation, which was just poured a few months ago, has caissons anchored into 25 feet of bedrock and has 11,000 cubic yards of concrete, making it one of the deepest foundations of any building in San Francisco. The foundation is 12 feet thick and has a ductile concrete core reinforced 25% more than any other office building in the city. The 47-story building will also contain  4 million pounds of rebar in its platform. The building is expected to withstand earthquakes stronger than the Loma Prieta and 1906 earthquakes.

The 750k SF Class-A++ office building will offer bay views through 70% of its windows, floor-to-ceiling glass on every floor, 50k SF of outdoor space and 14 skydecks, and 10k SF of retail. The building is pre-certified LEED Gold and will offer landscaped outdoor space on the 12th and 28th floors.

Nerdy fun fact: Ubisoft’s newest video game Watch Dogs 2, which is set in San Francisco, pictures a fully constructed Salesforce Tower, 181 Fremont and Transbay Terminal.