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New renderings of 550 Howard, poised to be one of SF’s tallest buildings

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Planners say they would prefer something more “iconically-shaped”

A rendering of the 800-foot building proposed for 550 Howard. Steelblue

Cesar Pelli, the Argentine-American architect behind some of the world’s tallest buildings, is already putting an indelible stamp on San Francisco’s skyline with Salesforce Tower.

Alongside the in-progress high-rise, Pelli’s firm (along with local HKS Architects) is adding an exclamation point in the form of an 800-foot tall tower that, if completed as designed, will become the city’s fourth tallest, behind Salesforce, Oceanwide Center, and the Transamerica Pyramid.

The original design for the building, dubbed Transbay parcel F at 550 Howard, released in July, showed a jutting block of shimmering glass. SocketSite displayed new renderings this week, which were actually tucked into the project’s initial planning assessment, released in January.

The 64-story building connecting to the Transbay Transit Center’s rooftop park would feature a 13-story hotel and 200 residential homes. The latest design is a little more organic looking, although planners had some notes (as is usually the case):

As one of the four largest towers in the city, the Department recommends that the massing [ie, shape of the building] be more gently and iconically-shaped. The current massing asymmetry and steps might work as a formal strategy if repeated; as they only occur once within the most visible height of the tower, they seem episodic and less architecturally intentional.

The Department recommends that the project express significant façade depth, provide high-quality materials, and meet the architectural detailing and character of the neighborhood.

In other words, the current look is still more blocky and uniform than the city might prefer to see in such a huge and prominent structure.

A more distinctive look to compete with Transamerica’s famous point, Salesforce Tower’s obelisk shape, and Oceanwide’s crystalline crown might impress the city more.

550 Howard, to the left of Salesforce Tower.