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Designs released for 36-story Renzo Piano hotel in Transbay

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Italian architect promised landmark on a smaller scale for site

Rendering of the rooftop garden of a proposed high-rise. Renderings by Steelblue, Architecture by Renzo Piano Building Workshop in collaboration with Mark Cavagnero Associates.

In 2016, Pritzker-winning Italian architect Renzo Piano announced he’d design a new hotel high-rise at 555 Howard Street, right across from what will someday be San Francisco’s fourth-tallest building.

Last week, planners included renderings for the Piano building in paperwork for the project’s March 2 hearing at the Planning Commission, and developer Pacific Eagle uploaded a few images to their own site as well.

As designed, the new spire would top out at 36 stories, where residents will find its centerpiece rooftop garden. The plan calls for 69 private homes and 255 hotel rooms.

Planners note:

The combination of a strong, transparent and porous 45 foot building base along all building frontages [...] and vertical incisions along the eastern and western elevations creates a unique, exceptional architectural expression that prevents the sense of overwhelming mass and is consistent with the intent of the street wall requirement.

Acclaimed for over 40 years, Piano is no stranger to San Francisco thanks to his designs for the rebuilt California Academy of Sciences.

When that building opened in 2008 the New York Times called it “a comforting reminder of the civilizing function of great art in a barbaric age” and praised its “cultural history that stretches back through Modernism to Classical Greece.”

This new building’s look may not be quite so holistic as all that, but the emphasis on transparency suggests a soft-touch approach aimed at creating volume of space while minimizing the impression of mass.

Take a look at the full designs: