Monday, July 8, 2013

Why San Francisco Has Such a Boring Skyline

Artist rendering of the under construction Transbay Transit Tower.

Architect Cesar Pelli designed the Transbay Transit Tower that is now going up in San Francisco. When completed it will reach 61 stories, 1070 feet into the sky, making it the tallest building west of the Mississippi River.

The developers for the project, Boston Properties, Inc and Hines, estimate that building the tower will cost upwards of $1 billion. It will be a  mixed use skyscraper that will reside atop the Transbay Terminal — a future rail hub that developers are billing as the west coast equivalent to Grand Central Station, says the New York Daily News.

Sadly, overall, the SF skyline is getting pretty boring. Pelli explains why:
 I have known San Francisco for over 50 years and it used to have a much more cheery silhouette than it does today. I’m sad to say it has become a rather boring skyline because of building codes.


  1. I was in Asheville, NC a few months ago on a mountain driving extravaganza with a friend in his Boxster S with a couple of other middle aged guys, all of us with kids that went up there on a weekend getaway and mild trouble making.

    Anyway, while in Asheville there was a couple of older buildings of unique and beautiful architecture.

    They obviously predated building codes....I succinctly remember one in the heart of downtown that was around 30 floors high that had an art deco look...with a big nasty rusting fire escape that went up the side that you could tell was never part of the original structure.

    1. I beg to differ. The first building codes were made in the 1920s after a series of disastrous hurricanes hitting South Florida. The use of building codes spread from there. Now, the main reason Art Deco building look so good now is because they followed a building code that required structural reinforcement. As for San Francisco and other places with boring buildings, the problem is the application of faux modernist architectural style. Sleek lines and elements may have an appeal but if not done well it'll look cheap and boring. However, the justification for these designs is Big Government bureaucrats requiring developers to stick to a minimalist, modern design and don't make it too modern or novel so the design can be approved.