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San Francisco’s best new building projects of 2016

San Francisco notables pick the best of this year’s constructions

Photo courtesy of SFMOMA; photo by Henrik Kam

As the year draws to a close, Curbed SF asked bigwigs in San Francisco’s architectural, design, and x-factor/je ne sais quois industries to give us their thoughts on 2016, architecturally-speaking. Revealed here are their favorite building projects of the year.

Allison Arieff (editorial director, SPUR)

Pretty much any multifamily project from David Baker Architects. They do miraculous things with affordable housing. Also, the Minnesota Street Project and the new SFMOMA (though I really wish Snøhetta had been allowed to start from scratch).

Erin Feher (style and design editor, San Francisco Magazine)

Minnesota Street Projects hands down. The city was getting a little too flush with over-designed restaurants, shiny new skyscrapers, and tired tech offices, so this was refreshing on so many levels. The simple yet gorgeous renovation of an old warehouse by Mark Jensen, the social and cultural impact of creating a safe and secure space for artists and galleries, and the explosion of public interest (did you see that line on opening night?!) made this the year's clear winner, and a big win for SF.

John King (urban design critic, San Francisco Chronicle)

I’d say 299 Fremont—not because it’s the best work of architecture, but it’s the project completed in 2016 that best shows how a well-planned high-rise neighborhood might evolve. Tall and short, market-rate and affordable, broad sidewalks, even a secret pedestrian passage.

Solaire at 299 Fremont in Yerba Buena.
Photo by Brock Keeling

Richie Nakano (chef and restaurateur)

The Transbay Terminal construction is so weird and different. I started out really hating it, especially the faux suspension bridge part, but I’m always captivated by it when I’m downtown.

David Baker (architect/founder, David Baker Architects)

My favorite new building in San Francisco is Anne Fougeron’s inventive, beautiful, and pragmatic 400 Grove.

Jon McNeal and Sade Borghei (senior architect and project manager, Snøhetta)

To state the obvious, we have the most connection to the SFMOMA. Neither of us were part of the initial design team so we can appreciate the building architecturally from some (limited) critical distance...Fundamentally, though, the museum is more than a building: It is a major moment for the arts in San Francisco with a now world-class collection and the facility to support continued growth of the arts and art education. As the cost of living drives artists out of the city, SFMOMA will hopefully provide a critical bedrock for sustaining creative culture in the city.

The Pacific in Pac Heights.
Photo by Patricia Chang

Eve Batey (owner, Avenues Dry Goods; senior editor, SFist)

Though it's not scheduled to break ground until January of 2017, watching the planning and progress of the Warriors arena in Mission Bay has been one of the biggest thrills I've felt regarding San Francisco development in years. Not just because I love basketball (which I do), but because I believe the economic ripples from that stadium will be felt all over the city. Plus, following 2014's toilet debacle, the current designs look really cool.

Kevin K. Ho and Jonathan B. McNarry (realtors, Vanguard Properties)

The Pacific. Hyped as one of the most luxurious buildings to have hit San Francisco in recent years, the Trumark development has set a high bar (which is probably made from a rare, but reclaimed, imported semi-previous stone) for the City.

We’re fans of how the architects incorporated enough volume in their plans to give designers the freedom to use finishes that we’d otherwise rarely see in a mass development. Some of this volume allows for clever use of hidden LED lighting, full-wall walnut wainscoting or deluxe herringbone oak floors that all lend to create spaces as dramatic as the prices are.

Brock Keeling (editor, Curbed SF)

The SFMOMA’s new addition. If San Francisco showed up to your New Year’s Eve cocktail party, the Snøhetta expansion would be the statement necklace it’s trying to pull off.


147 Minna St, San Francisco, CA 94103

Warriors Arena

Pier 30-32, San Francisco, CA 94105