Gallery: San Francisco’s Transbay Terminal gets the green light

Transbay Transit Center by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects
Transbay Transit Center by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

San Franciscans rejoice! The Transbay Joint Powers Authority just approved a stunning green design for the new Transbay Transit Center to be constructed in downtown SF. Planned by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, the project consists of a graceful glass tower paired with an elegantly sweeping transit center topped with a five-and-a-half acre public park. Both structures will showcase a stellar set of sustainable features and will fulfill the project’s aim of centralizing the region’s transportation network while providing the SOMA neighborhood with a valuable community space.

Pelli Clarke Pelli’s design does an excellent job of balancing the center between three principles: transit, community, and sustainability. City Park is constructed as an expansive 5.4 acre green roof that will be freely accessible to the public and will host a variety of cultural activities. It will also be an educational resource, “exhibiting several local ecologies and sustainability strategies, and presenting interpretive information for each”.

The slender spire touts a curtain cut from high-performance glazed glass bolstered by passive solar shading. The tower’s top is crowned with wind turbines, and each floor draws fresh air directly from the outside via the structure’s facade. Geothermal heating and cooling helps to regulate the building’s temperature, and both the tower and the park will benefit from a sophisticated rain and graywater recycling system that can provide water to neighboring buildings as well.

Mayor Gavin Newsom has lauded the project, stating: “Through this forward thinking project, we can inspire change to an environmentally sustainable model of living while also enhancing economic growth in our City, region and State.” Construction is slated to kick of this year, and the center should be fully realized by 2014.

+ Transbay Transit Center

+ Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects



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  1. Inhabitat » The F... October 2, 2008 at 12:25 pm

    […] saturating its interiors with daylight. An under-floor air delivery system efficiently provides for natural ventilation, while an on-site co-generation plant provides the structure with power and heat. The high rise is […]

  2. philip wagner September 18, 2008 at 4:06 am

    Well I guess we won\’t have to worry about this \”dildo\” project for a while. Under current financial conditions who is going to pay forit? The Feds? Doubt it. The State? Ditto? Sovereign Funds? Doubt it. The City of Sanctuary? Maybe. If Chris Daly is elected mayor.
    I doubt that I need to spend a lot of time worrying about this project any more.
    But how about those 49ers eh? They need a new stadium! LOL.
    Byte me,

  3. byoung July 3, 2008 at 1:36 pm

    How could they NOT used the SOM designs? The drawings match back to SFO and the structure itself looks the safest of all three bids. And the park is a story (or more?) above street level. It’s not going to be scenic at all to the city if no one can see it.

  4. Sherpa May 30, 2008 at 9:39 am

    How sad. Utterly out of character with San Francisco. Its indefensible how the planners cower to the egos of these architects. This design is an ugly sham. It looks uncomfortable, inconvenient and entirely non Californian. Put it on Mars or anywhere, but not in San Francisco.

  5. jcinaz May 30, 2008 at 2:35 am

    I also noticed the huge expanse of glass. My first thought was that I wouldn’t want to be standing there during an earthquake. Also, the tubular steel support legs in the center of the space, the atrium area, appear to be welded/joined in the middle, thus creating potentially weak fracture points during the inevitable earthquakes to come. Probably safer to utilize full length, non-welded tubular steel supports. Other than that, I like the overall design and the City Park design.

  6. merlin_r68 May 29, 2008 at 6:06 pm

    Lots of glass when the “Big One” comes… (or even a small one). I suppose it could be quake resistant, though.

  7. jabberwolf May 29, 2008 at 4:50 pm

    Good design, good modeling, good drawings but one problem…

    Where are all the bums going to sleep? They left them out of the pictures.

  8. Joe Mamma May 29, 2008 at 4:34 pm

    In a week it will be covered in Graffiti. SF is a “sanctuary city”. In exchange for free services, we get beautiful graffiti all over the city.

  9. Mike Chino May 29, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Hi delucajon
    It sounds like PCP architects are taking great strides to make the green roof as accessible to the public as possible, with street level access and a plans for a variety of community-focused activities to be held there. Also, I wouldn’t worry about the structure being devoid of people, since it will serve as a nexus for 7 different transit lines (MUNI, BART, Caltrain, AC Transit, SamTrans, WestCAT and others)

  10. delucajon May 29, 2008 at 10:16 am

    I’m wondering how accessble the green roof is, as it seems like it isn’t easily accessed from the street (just by looking at the renditions). One problem that is often cited in existing green roofs that are meant to function as city parks is that they are not easily accessible. What is then left is an abandoned park without enough people to make it feel safe.

  11. Scott May 29, 2008 at 7:54 am

    I have to say that the winning proposal is my favorite as well. SOM seemed to focus more on the tower and less on the community areas. Richard Rodgers had a nice proposal but it didn’t seem to fit with the city as well as this one. I have to say that I am not nuts about the bubbles in the facade and hope those get defined a bit better before they start building. Yay San Fransisco!

  12. AJ May 29, 2008 at 6:26 am

    Shame…I really like the SOM proposal better :(

  13. M.YE May 28, 2008 at 8:27 pm

    hmm…i was hoping SOM’s scheme would have been on the top of that pile.

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