525 Market

San Francisco, California, US

This building is the Third largest building in the City of San Francisco but probably around the 100th least recognizable. 

In that the explosion of growth in the City to the south of market and adjacent to the Trans Bay Terminal development is equidistant to the South from this building as is the existing Financial Center to the North, it seemed apparent to the ownership that a redefinition of the public spaces would preserve and enhance the value of the property.

The existing lobby is not observable from the passersby on the street due to being hidden between an existing row of columns and a dark set of materials.  The redesign creates a major entry by re cladding the central columns in aluminum ellipse forms capped by a dramatic canopy extending over the sidewalk and creating a new lighter palette of materials in the lobby.

Internally the main, two-story lobby is entered through a one-story space and has been earlier renovated using very dated materials and forms.  This design will alter all the materials and eliminate the one story space by replacing it with a very elegant bridge.  All of the glass will be low iron and clear.  The bridge will be a marvel of engineering in its thin sections and glass floor, all of which are hung by fine rods from the ceiling above.  That ceiling is created by extending the new canopy from the outside all the way to the elevator core at the center of the building. The elevator core is clad in an English Oak and gently curved towards Market Street outside.  It will be seen from the street and flanked by two dramatic rough-cut Travertine walls on either side of the lobby.  The floor of white granite is set adjacent to black polished granite at the edges and base just as the existing base of the building along the street.  At the center of the lobby will be a new receptionist desk formed from corian in a free form so that it becomes both the visual and functional the of the space.

The plaza is now associated more with the homeless than the users of the building, but with the development to the south and the need for pedestrian flow to increase towards Market Street and Bart, this use will change. The new design features a magical fountain that has limited physical proximity by a circle of rough textured rocks.  It will replace the existing “bear pit” fountain that currently affords use by the homeless.  The round form of water will seem to float in the space above the rocks by utilizing the flow of water over acrylic troughs which will disappear leaving only the image of water.  Nearby a cage of light steel mesh will surround a column of broken shards of glass that is both internally lighted and accommodates an existing diesel generator exhaust stack.  More seating and landscape is provided at the rear of the plaza including wood “bleachers” facing the revamped pedestrian travel path to the south.