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Brock Keeling

A guide to the high-rise projects transforming San Francisco

These tall towers will alter the city skyline

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San Francisco’s dense skyline continues to grow as the city anticipates the completion of some towers long under construction and the emerging profile of others underway.

These tall towers aren’t always popular—many residents actively fight against buildings sprouting up in the city, worried that they’ll cause shadows, an over-saturation of luxury housing, or a wake-up call from nostalgia—but it’s hard to argue against their status as symbols of San Francisco’s much-needed investment in residential growth.

How many of these buildings does SF have in the works? We counted, and the number as of right now is 14 which includes buildings that are either recently completed or under construction; all of them must have broken ground.

They’re all mapped below—and if you know of something new, send word via the tip line.

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1500 Mission

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This 1.2-million-square-foot development, located on a 2.5-acre site on the corner of Mission Street and South Van Ness Avenue where the old Goodwill used to sit, will rise 39 stories. The mixed-use development will come with 550 luxury apartments tower as well as a separate 460,000-square-foot office building that will be the new home of the San Francisco Planning and Public Works Departments. Twenty percent of the residential units will be “affordable” for low-income households. 

Completion anticipated for March 2020.

Expansive Mid-Market construction, still in the beginning stages of construction, Serif will come with new housing, a hotel, retail, and a dedicated non-profit space. The project, led by developers L37, almost fell victim to erroneous reports of a secret tunnel used by gay bar patrons in the 1930s to hide from police raids. (The myth was pushed by political forces opposing growth on Market Street.) Fortunately, plans for the irregularly-shaped site on the corner of Market and Turk Streets has moved forward.

Until the building rises, you can still see the hidden Williams Hardware and Stove Co. signage, revealed after demolition and excavation.

A white building on a street in San Francisco. Rendering courtesy of Polaris Pacific

The long-delayed 5M development broke ground in June. The four-acre project, located at the border of MidMarket and SoMa, will include a 288-unit residential building on Mission, which includes 57 below market rate units (all at 50 percent of average median income); a 400-unit residential building on Natoma; and a 630,000-square foot office building on Howard.

The Dempster Building and the Camelline Building, two historic resources, will be repurposed and used in the project, which will include an open space for the public, retail, and dining.

A tall building with many windows. There are trees in front of the building and a street with people walking. Rendering by Steelblue, courtesy of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

Four Seasons Private Residences at 706 Mission

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This 510 foot, 45-story tower with a rising profile near SFMOMA will repurpose the 10-story Aronson Building, which survived the 1906 earthquake and fire, and add a residential skyscraper next to it, care of Handel Architects. The older building will play home to residential lofts on levels five through ten, as well as the upcoming Mexican Museum on levels two through four.

But the adjoining high-rise will be the property’s real showstopper: “There’s a carved-out stone element to the exterior, combined with glass corners which, by the way, give every unit a glass corner in their living room and dining room,” says lead architect Glenn Rescalvo. “The undulating stone facade provides a craft-like element; the layers of stone and glass create a rhythmic flow and really bring a sense of warmth.”

Also of note, the tower will offer a $49 million penthouse that will include roughly 10,000 square feet of residential space, 4,500 square feet of multiple outdoor terraces, and a pool.

There is a tall skyscraper in the foreground. In the distance is the cityscape of San Francisco. There is a sunset. Renderings by Steelblue, courtesy of Glodow Nead Communications

Virgin Hotel San Francisco

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The city’s newest hotel is are of mega corporation Virgin, which opened this spring. Rising 12 stories, the swank lodgings come with a 4,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor rooftop bar, a restaurant, and a cafe. The 200-room hotel is located next to a Central Subway station, currently in the works, as well as the Moscone Center, which just underwent a $551-million expansion.

Oceanwide Center

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Chinese developer Oceanwide made the sudden decision to stop construction on the 54-story tower in, which was slated to house a Waldorf Astoria hotel and 156 condos. The project remains on hold indefinitely.

633 Folsom

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Gutted and prepped for renovation, this 1960s-era building in SoMa, located of 633 Folsom, is undergoing a complete remake. A series of new windows have been affixed to its onetime midcentury facade, resulting in a fish-scale effect.

According to Socketsite, an additional 90,000 square feet of office space will be added to the original 175,000-square-foot building, “along with 4,000 square feet of new retail space (for a total of 5,000) and 1,800 square feet of public open space in the form of a terrace along Folsom.”

Brock Keeling

Skinny hotel at 36 Tehama

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Plans for a slender new hotel, developed by J Street Hospitality (Union Square’s Axiom Hotel) and designed by Handel Architects, were revealed in February. The building’s rooms will be a cozy affair, reportedly measuring 180 square feet each. The hotel will also come with a fitness area, a guest lobby, and a rooftop bar.

The unnamed project still needs to clear several hurdles before becoming a reality—it’s now in Planning—and will have to compete with other new lodgings in the area, including the recently opened Virgin Hotel in SoMa and the Waldorf Astoria currently under construction at 512 Mission.

A group of tall skyscrapers in San Francisco. Rendering courtesy of Handel Architects

One Steuart Lane

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What one was a parking garage, now demolished, will turn into a 20-story, luxury residential high-rise at the tip of the East Cut neighborhood, care of architects at Skidmore, Owing, and Merrill. The 120-condominium tower will come with a sun terrace, 24-hour valet, and a private fitness center and spa. Units will range from three- to one-bedroom floor plans. Of course, there will be penthouse residences that will range in size from 900 to 3,100 square feet.

The building will also offer a 4,500-square-foot retail space. The building is slated for completion by 2021.

Rendering by Binyan Studios

500 Folsom

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This is Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill’s big (that is to say, 43 floors and 440 feet) contribution to the new skyline, with its unmistakable shuffled exterior and rising crown, topped out in January. The developer says that the foundation pour used up 8,218 cubic yards of concrete, enough for about 32 miles of San Francisco sidewalk.

Flanked by two lower podium buildings, the 42-story mixed-use tower will offer 456 market-rate units, 114 affordable units, and amenities like elevated gardens and a greenhouse. There will also be ground-level retail spaces and a series of passageways that, according to SOM, “will enhance the public realm and bring activity to the high-density neighborhood.”

Park Tower

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At over 600 feet and 43 stories, this ascending addition on Transbay Block 5 (designed by Goettsch Partners) means business. With 755,900 square feet in pocket, Facebook leased the entire building, which makes it the city’s third largest third largest tech tenant.

The looming tower is most noteworthy for its 14 sky decks and 50,000-plus square feet of outdoor space. It also has a privately-owned public park (POPOS) next door, which opened in December.

Photo by Brock Keeling

The Avery

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Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Rem Koolhaas’ OMA (the firm’s first high-rise in San Francisco) with interiors by Clodagh Design, the 56-story, 618-foot-tall sculpted glass tower offers 118 condominiums starting on the 33rd floor.

In addition to the residential tower on top, the skyscraper will also come with a retail- and restaurant-filled plaza area at ground level, featuring a public pathway that cuts diagonally through part of the block, as well as an ancillary building, designed by San Francisco-based architect Anne Fougeron, filled with affordable rental apartments.

325 Fremont

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A 250-foot, 25-story residential tower, designed by Handel Architects with 118 units (48 two-bedrooms, 47 one-bedrooms and 23 studios), is slated to go up at this space located directly across from the brutalist PG&E substation. The project broke ground in April 2017, but the pictured ground-breaking marker is the only progress visible at the empty lot.

A stone plaque that has the words: Groundbreaking, 325 Fremont Street, San Francisco. Photo by Brock Keeling

This corkscrewing Studio Gang-designed spire, filling in the last of the East Cut freeway parcels, topped out in April. Architect Jeanne Gangwhose other designs often emphasize rippling, wavy motifs, says that the twisted trademark look “evolves the classic bay window, a familiar feature of San Francisco’s early houses, reimagining it in a high-rise context” and that the aim was to “make every residence a corner unit.”

The 40-story, 392-unit high-rise will feature luxury homes, a smattering of affordable units, and retail space on the ground level. The building will open for move-in in early 2020.

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1500 Mission

This 1.2-million-square-foot development, located on a 2.5-acre site on the corner of Mission Street and South Van Ness Avenue where the old Goodwill used to sit, will rise 39 stories. The mixed-use development will come with 550 luxury apartments tower as well as a separate 460,000-square-foot office building that will be the new home of the San Francisco Planning and Public Works Departments. Twenty percent of the residential units will be “affordable” for low-income households. 

Completion anticipated for March 2020.

Serif

A white building on a street in San Francisco. Rendering courtesy of Polaris Pacific

Expansive Mid-Market construction, still in the beginning stages of construction, Serif will come with new housing, a hotel, retail, and a dedicated non-profit space. The project, led by developers L37, almost fell victim to erroneous reports of a secret tunnel used by gay bar patrons in the 1930s to hide from police raids. (The myth was pushed by political forces opposing growth on Market Street.) Fortunately, plans for the irregularly-shaped site on the corner of Market and Turk Streets has moved forward.

Until the building rises, you can still see the hidden Williams Hardware and Stove Co. signage, revealed after demolition and excavation.

A white building on a street in San Francisco. Rendering courtesy of Polaris Pacific

5M

A tall building with many windows. There are trees in front of the building and a street with people walking. Rendering by Steelblue, courtesy of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

The long-delayed 5M development broke ground in June. The four-acre project, located at the border of MidMarket and SoMa, will include a 288-unit residential building on Mission, which includes 57 below market rate units (all at 50 percent of average median income); a 400-unit residential building on Natoma; and a 630,000-square foot office building on Howard.

The Dempster Building and the Camelline Building, two historic resources, will be repurposed and used in the project, which will include an open space for the public, retail, and dining.

A tall building with many windows. There are trees in front of the building and a street with people walking. Rendering by Steelblue, courtesy of Kohn Pedersen Fox Associates

Four Seasons Private Residences at 706 Mission

There is a tall skyscraper in the foreground. In the distance is the cityscape of San Francisco. There is a sunset. Renderings by Steelblue, courtesy of Glodow Nead Communications

This 510 foot, 45-story tower with a rising profile near SFMOMA will repurpose the 10-story Aronson Building, which survived the 1906 earthquake and fire, and add a residential skyscraper next to it, care of Handel Architects. The older building will play home to residential lofts on levels five through ten, as well as the upcoming Mexican Museum on levels two through four.

But the adjoining high-rise will be the property’s real showstopper: “There’s a carved-out stone element to the exterior, combined with glass corners which, by the way, give every unit a glass corner in their living room and dining room,” says lead architect Glenn Rescalvo. “The undulating stone facade provides a craft-like element; the layers of stone and glass create a rhythmic flow and really bring a sense of warmth.”

Also of note, the tower will offer a $49 million penthouse that will include roughly 10,000 square feet of residential space, 4,500 square feet of multiple outdoor terraces, and a pool.

There is a tall skyscraper in the foreground. In the distance is the cityscape of San Francisco. There is a sunset. Renderings by Steelblue, courtesy of Glodow Nead Communications

Virgin Hotel San Francisco

The city’s newest hotel is are of mega corporation Virgin, which opened this spring. Rising 12 stories, the swank lodgings come with a 4,000-square-foot indoor-outdoor rooftop bar, a restaurant, and a cafe. The 200-room hotel is located next to a Central Subway station, currently in the works, as well as the Moscone Center, which just underwent a $551-million expansion.

Oceanwide Center

Chinese developer Oceanwide made the sudden decision to stop construction on the 54-story tower in, which was slated to house a Waldorf Astoria hotel and 156 condos. The project remains on hold indefinitely.

633 Folsom

Brock Keeling

Gutted and prepped for renovation, this 1960s-era building in SoMa, located of 633 Folsom, is undergoing a complete remake. A series of new windows have been affixed to its onetime midcentury facade, resulting in a fish-scale effect.

According to Socketsite, an additional 90,000 square feet of office space will be added to the original 175,000-square-foot building, “along with 4,000 square feet of new retail space (for a total of 5,000) and 1,800 square feet of public open space in the form of a terrace along Folsom.”

Brock Keeling

Skinny hotel at 36 Tehama

A group of tall skyscrapers in San Francisco. Rendering courtesy of Handel Architects

Plans for a slender new hotel, developed by J Street Hospitality (Union Square’s Axiom Hotel) and designed by Handel Architects, were revealed in February. The building’s rooms will be a cozy affair, reportedly measuring 180 square feet each. The hotel will also come with a fitness area, a guest lobby, and a rooftop bar.

The unnamed project still needs to clear several hurdles before becoming a reality—it’s now in Planning—and will have to compete with other new lodgings in the area, including the recently opened Virgin Hotel in SoMa and the Waldorf Astoria currently under construction at 512 Mission.

A group of tall skyscrapers in San Francisco. Rendering courtesy of Handel Architects

One Steuart Lane

Rendering by Binyan Studios

What one was a parking garage, now demolished, will turn into a 20-story, luxury residential high-rise at the tip of the East Cut neighborhood, care of architects at Skidmore, Owing, and Merrill. The 120-condominium tower will come with a sun terrace, 24-hour valet, and a private fitness center and spa. Units will range from three- to one-bedroom floor plans. Of course, there will be penthouse residences that will range in size from 900 to 3,100 square feet.

The building will also offer a 4,500-square-foot retail space. The building is slated for completion by 2021.

Rendering by Binyan Studios

500 Folsom

This is Skidmore, Owings, and Merrill’s big (that is to say, 43 floors and 440 feet) contribution to the new skyline, with its unmistakable shuffled exterior and rising crown, topped out in January. The developer says that the foundation pour used up 8,218 cubic yards of concrete, enough for about 32 miles of San Francisco sidewalk.

Flanked by two lower podium buildings, the 42-story mixed-use tower will offer 456 market-rate units, 114 affordable units, and amenities like elevated gardens and a greenhouse. There will also be ground-level retail spaces and a series of passageways that, according to SOM, “will enhance the public realm and bring activity to the high-density neighborhood.”

Park Tower

Photo by Brock Keeling

At over 600 feet and 43 stories, this ascending addition on Transbay Block 5 (designed by Goettsch Partners) means business. With 755,900 square feet in pocket, Facebook leased the entire building, which makes it the city’s third largest third largest tech tenant.

The looming tower is most noteworthy for its 14 sky decks and 50,000-plus square feet of outdoor space. It also has a privately-owned public park (POPOS) next door, which opened in December.

Photo by Brock Keeling

The Avery

Designed by Pritzker Prize-winning Rem Koolhaas’ OMA (the firm’s first high-rise in San Francisco) with interiors by Clodagh Design, the 56-story, 618-foot-tall sculpted glass tower offers 118 condominiums starting on the 33rd floor.

In addition to the residential tower on top, the skyscraper will also come with a retail- and restaurant-filled plaza area at ground level, featuring a public pathway that cuts diagonally through part of the block, as well as an ancillary building, designed by San Francisco-based architect Anne Fougeron, filled with affordable rental apartments.

325 Fremont

A stone plaque that has the words: Groundbreaking, 325 Fremont Street, San Francisco. Photo by Brock Keeling

A 250-foot, 25-story residential tower, designed by Handel Architects with 118 units (48 two-bedrooms, 47 one-bedrooms and 23 studios), is slated to go up at this space located directly across from the brutalist PG&E substation. The project broke ground in April 2017, but the pictured ground-breaking marker is the only progress visible at the empty lot.

A stone plaque that has the words: Groundbreaking, 325 Fremont Street, San Francisco. Photo by Brock Keeling

Mira

This corkscrewing Studio Gang-designed spire, filling in the last of the East Cut freeway parcels, topped out in April. Architect Jeanne Gangwhose other designs often emphasize rippling, wavy motifs, says that the twisted trademark look “evolves the classic bay window, a familiar feature of San Francisco’s early houses, reimagining it in a high-rise context” and that the aim was to “make every residence a corner unit.”

The 40-story, 392-unit high-rise will feature luxury homes, a smattering of affordable units, and retail space on the ground level. The building will open for move-in in early 2020.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Brock Keeling (@brockkeeling) on