33 Tehama Brings Residences and Public Art to the Transbay Neighborhood by Angela Lin

33 Tehama and the Flowers that Bloom at Midnight art installation by Yuyui Kusama

33 Tehama and the Flowers that Bloom at Midnight art installation by Yuyui Kusama

It is always rewarding to watch the broad vision of an area plan materialize into the specific buildings and spaces that comprise the fabric of a city.

In 2008, we began photographing existing conditions and preparing photosimulations for San Francisco’s Transit Center District Plan, a comprehensive plan for shaping growth within 145 acres in southern Downtown. Our simulations portrayed the Plan in the context of earlier area plans: the Rincon Hill Area Plan and the 2006 Transbay Redevelopment Plan.

With the adoption of the Transit Center District Plan in 2012, the height limit for 33 Tehama was reclassified from 200’ to 360’.

33 Tehama is now complete, and residents began moving in at the beginning of the year. The 403-unit, for-rent multifamily development features ground-level retail space and 60 below-market-rate units.

2013: 33 Tehama

33 Tehama as built looks quite similar to the project as it was approved in 2012. In the intervening six years, Salesforce Tower has sprung up in the background.

The project includes a public plaza featuring a striking installation by iconoclastic artist Yayoi Kusama. It is the only permanent public Kusama installation in San Francisco. Kusama exhibited alongside Oldenburg and Warhol in the 1960s yet remained in relative obscurity until the 1980’s. For insight into her long career, we highly recommend the feature film, ‘Kusama: Infinity’.

The plaza is designed to flow physically and visually into the adjacent 3.5-acre Oscar Park being developed by the Transbay Authority. Oscar park will border 33 Tehama’s site on two sides and is expected to open in 2022.

4 plaza.JPG

Photo of plaza


Kickstarting a Neighborhood in West Berkeley by Angela Lin

Fourth & U Apartments (originally known as 700 University Avenue) is mixed-use project incorporating 173 homes above restaurant and retail space. Located right next to the Berkeley Amtrak Station, it is one of three adjacent projects planned to add much-needed housing to a formerly commercial zone.

Fourth & U Apartments (from Addison Street near Essex Way)

When we first set out documenting the “existing conditions” of the project site, the immediate blocks surrounding the site consisted of industrial buildings, large swaths of parking, a handful of restaurants, and a sake brewery. The site itself was bordered by train tracks and the University Ave overpass. I have to admit that this did not seem like a likely residential area at the time.

Fourth & U Apartments (from Fourth and Addison Street)

However a few blocks up Fourth Street was a robust retail area, with shops and cafes. In the convening years, those two other adjacent blocks have been developed into similar mixed-use projects and this now looks like a vibrant neighborhood within easy walking distance to amenities and the train station.

Cumulative Visualizations & Transformative City Planning: Rincon Hill by Angela Lin

Cumulative Visualizations

How does one portray a project’s visual impact when that neighborhood is undergoing rapid transformation? When the neighborhood will look different when by the time the project is approved? CEQA sets the baseline at the date of the Notice of Preparation for the project. However sometimes a fuller understanding comes from additional simulation of the area’s near future: approved projects or the maximum zoning envelopes - especially if those zoning envelopes have changed.

Rincon Hill

San Francisco’s Rincon Hill has had a long and varied history, from fashionable neighborhood to warehouse district to skyscrapers. Its current incarnation is the result of the Rincon Hill Area Plan, adopted in 2005. While previous Rincon Hill height limits capped out at 250 feet, the 2005 Rincon Hill Plan accommodated heights of up to 550 feet.

We have been fortunate to work on several projects within in the Rincon Hill Plan. For several of these projects, we produced additional simulations showing already-approved projects and the maximum zoning envelopes allowed under the Rincon Hill Plan.

399 Fremont from the Bay Bridge

The higher zoning envelopes of the new plan seemed like a dramatic change to us in 2005, when we produced this simulation of 399 Fremont Street. Since then, San Francisco’s population has increased by over 100,000, and we now appreciate the foresight shown in the Rincon Hill Plan.

Fremont Street

The Rincon Hill Plan drastically transformed the 300 block of Fremont Street. Here is a photo of it in 2005, with the simulation we produced and how it looks today.

We simulated 325 Fremont from the same intersection, different corner, 8 years later. 399 Fremont, already under construction, was included.

Some of our other Rincon Hill projects throughout the years:

Simulations Envision The Future: Mission Bay by Angela Lin

Mission Bay

Mission Bay (near the UCSF Mission Creek Boathouse)

The Mission Bay master plan, with 1998 computer graphics technology! This was plan was developed as a public/private cooperative effort by the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency and the Catellus Development Corp. The goal was to provide significant housing, including affordable housing, and a new UCSF campus that would attract other biotech.

Mission Bay (from the 4th Street Bridge)

The Master Plan, updated in 2004, to included 2.65 million sq. ft. of UCSF research spaces, 41 acres of public open space, and 6,404 residences, including 1,806 units of affordable housing.

330-335 Berry Street

One of these subsequent affordable housing projects, 330-335 Berry Street, was developed by Bridge Housing. We created simulations for public discussion in 2006:

330-335 Berry St
330-335 Berry Street

For more Mission Bay fun, see UCSF’s timeline here.

AT&T Park

No discussion of Mission Bay’s transformation would be complete without mentioning San Francisco Giants Stadium. UCSF’s campus had just broken ground when the San Francisco Giants moved into AT&T Park in 2000.  Giants Stadium provided an iconographic landmark that anchored a newly created neighborhood.

AT&T Park (from Giants Promenade)

Our simulation, showing the ballpark as approved by City Planning. The design underwent revisions before it was constructed.

The Future: Mission Rock

Mission Rock

In February, the Board of Supervisors approved Mission Rock, after unanimous recommendation from the SF City Planning Commission. The mixed-use project will bring up to 1,500 housing units and 8 acres of parks to a site that currently holds the AT&T parking. 40 percent of the housing will be affordable or below-market rate. We worked with ICF on the approval process and are very proud of our role in this project.