After weeks of public outcry , the San Francisco Board of Supervisors voted Tuesday to place a hold of at least one year upon the “Greenest Building on the West Coast”. Designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, the 110 Embarcadero project is now under review to determine the historical significance of the site and the proposed 10-story height of the project. Just months ago, the architects had been given the go-ahead to construct the uber-green office building, which was set to become the first commercial building on the West Coast to receive a LEED Platinum rating.
Already commissioned to build the Transbay Transit Center and Tower, architects Pelli Clarke Pelli designed the 110 Embarcadero project to mix retail and office space with a host of green factors including waste-water recycling, solar panels, reclaimed lumber and much more. However the proposed building would rise to 123-feet, which is 55-feet taller than the 84-foot limit enforced on the waterfront.
The seemingly incongruous design caused outcry from neighbors, preservationists and union leaders alike. Some saw the project as an excuse to prop up the Mayor’s green credentials at the expense of the historic neighborhood, while others made accusations of greenwashing .
Adding to the controversy, the decaying building located on the site is said to be the former headquarters of the International Longshoreman’s Association and the site of a 1934 police slaying of two ILA workers . The incident became known as Bloody Thursday and let to a four-day General Strike. As a result of union pressure, developers offered to construct two local information stations to educate people about the area’s labor history.
“This building doesn’t have anything left. It’s been renovated so many times it doesn’t look anything like the building of 1934. There is no physical tie anymore,” says Paul Paradis, one of the developers of the 110 Embarcadero project . “We feel people will be a lot more familiar with Bloody Thursday and what it meant and what happened with those stations and our project than if the building is left the way it is.”
But the capitulations were not enough to prevent the Board of Supervisors from postponing the project. The architects and developers will now begin a year-long investigation into the historical significance of the site and present a justification for the height of the proposed building. Only time will tell if 110 Embarcadero will actually become the “Greenest Building in the West”.