The 117-unit project at 1415 Mission was approved yesterday, with a few strings attached, including an exploration to better transition the building's height to its neighbors to the south, and to explore building a vertical green wall. The pitched battle to chop the height of the building in half, led by a petitioning neighbor, focused particularly on two points of contention: the lack of "transition" in heights between the north side of Mission Street and the south side, and the wind impacts of the tall building — which in this area seems to be a hot topic given the endless gusts of wind.
First, having discovered a petition in opposition to 1415 Mission as it was proposed, the lawyers and architects for the project pulled together their very own petition with 70 names, patting themselves on the back for the "truly notable" amount of outreach they did with the community. There was indeed a very long list of supporting organizations, but dissenters noted that the block on which 1415 Mission resides averages 25 to 30 feet in height, while the project is a singular 130 feet. The problem, as deftly summed up by the city's zoning administrator: Mission Street is a primary transit corridor, making height and density key, but the spot also abuts the relatively flat Western SoMa, which would cause a "dramatic drop in height" — or as one neighbor called it, "like standing on the edge of a cliff and falling off." The Planning Commission ultimately decided that "we cannot build something at 40 feet because there's a 20 foot building next door and keep doing that over the entire city in these types of areas," noting that the height was "totally appropriate" for this particular location.
The problem of wind, however, was less clear cut. Two studies did confirm that the overall impact of the building on the local wind situation would be more or less negligible. A planning commissioner did quibble over a change in the way wind studies are done, and whether the newfangled computer way can be reconciled with the old-school way of doing wind studies. But we digress. It was noted, again, that 1415 Mission is 600 feet down from the wind current around Fox Plaza and AAA, and that this building would have a pretty hard time getting in on that action from where it stands.
Finally, a purely aesthetic issue over the project's south-facing wall. Tall as the building would be in comparison to its neighbors, its blank property-line wall suggested something of a foreboding presence. Heller Manus acknowledged the challenge, saying that some ideas floated to lessen the brutalist look were digital media displays, supergraphics, or a vertical green wall. The Planning Commission dug that last idea, and requested that the developers explore it further — before giving them the green light and sending them all home for the night.
· Misunderstood 1415 Mission Actually Has Much Love [Curbed SF]
· Too Tall, Too Wind Tunnelly: 1415 Mission Faces SoMa Wrath [Curbed SF]
· Rendering Update: SoMa's 1415 Mission Gets a New Chassis [Curbed SF]