Competing Plans Unveiled for New Downtown Skyscraper

Thu September 06, 2007 - West Edition

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Architects unveiled three competing plans for a new downtown skyscraper and transit hub that would be the West Coast’s tallest building.

“Today is an historic day,” Mayor Gavin Newsom said as he pulled away a black cloth covering the three elaborate models at a City Hall ceremony Aug. 6.

The three designs range in height from 1,200 to 1,375 ft. (365 to 419 m) — each much taller than the 853-ft. (259 m) Transamerica Pyramid, currently San Francisco’s tallest building. At 1,018 ft. (310 m), the U.S. Bank Tower in downtown Los Angeles is now the West Coast’s tallest building.

Each tower design tops a transit terminal that would become the Bay Area’s regional transportation hub, with plans calling for bus service, commuter rail, and eventually high-speed rail.

The designs also emphasize environmental sustainability, with such design elements as rooftop wind turbines that would generate power for the complex.

A jury that includes architects, engineers and a transportation expert will recommend a winning design later this month to the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, a regional agency created in 2001 to oversee the construction of the new transit terminal.

The authority is expected to name a winner in September and the transit station is slated to open by 2014.