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SAN FRANCISCO- Three teams of architects and developers presented their design concepts this week for the new Transbay Transit Center and an adjoining commercial tower that would be the tallest in the city. The Transbay Joint Powers Authority Board of Directors will select one team on September 20, 2007, with the first phase of construction for the transit center scheduled to begin in 2009.

The teams are Richard Rogers Partnership and Forest City Enterprises with MacFarlane Partners; Skidmore Owings and Merrill with Rockefeller Group Development Corp., and; Pelli Clark Pelli Architects with Hines. The teams made their presentations to the TJPA Board, its nine-member competition jury and the public on Tuesday in the Board of Supervisors Chambers at City Hall in San Francisco. The authority would sell or lease the tower site to the developer to fund the estimated $983 million cost of the terminal and related infrastructure projects.

The redeveloped Transbay Transit Center at First and Mission streets will centralize the region’s transportation network by accommodating eight transportation systems under one roof–AC Transit, Caltrain, MUNI, Golden Gate Transit, SamTrans, Greyhound, BART and the future California High-Speed Rail, which will transport people between San Francisco and Los Angeles in less than three hours.

Additionally, a 40-acre area surrounding the transit hub will be redeveloped to include 3,400 housing units, 1.2 million sf of new office, hotel and commercial space, and 60,000 sf of retail. The buildings will include townhouses, low- and mid-rise buildings, and slender high-rise towers spaced apart to provide sunlight to proposed new plazas, parks, and widened sidewalks.

“This project is a real solution to traffic congestion in California cities, which is projected to be among the nation’s worst by 2025,” says Board chair Jerry Hill. “The new Transit Center will reconnect the region and its transit systems, allowing easier access to…public transportation options, thereby encouraging people to get out of their cars and off of our freeways.”

The design presentations represent one of the final stages of an eight-month international competition to find a design with “aesthetic and functional excellence” and that provides “a sound economic return to the TJPA.” Below are abbreviated versions of each team’s description of its design.

Rogers/Forest City/MacFarlane: With its waves of glass and steel, and its emphasis on transparency, the open, light-drenched transit center will be a natural gateway. With its blend of local and destination retail, fresh food markets, and cafes and restaurants, the Transit Center will create a new public realm. The transparent, multi-use, 82-story Transbay Tower will rise 1,000 feet into the sky. It will be set back at street level to create a large public plaza and will be topped with a working wind turbine that will create useable energy. The tower will combine retail, office space, hotel rooms, condominiums, and affordable housing.

SOM/Rockefeller: In addition to the transit center and the tower, the design includes a light-filled Transbay Hall, equal in scale to the central Vanderbilt Hall of Grand Central Station, and a full block Performing Arts Park. The tapering, 1,200-foot-tall Transbay Tower is lifted 100 feet above a full block urban plaza at Mission Street, creating a civic portal to the Transbay Hall. The Tower includes retail, cultural uses, office space, a boutique hotel, condominiums and a publicly accessible sky room. Atop the Tower are wind turbines which, combined with its photovoltaic crown, reduces (the project’s) annual energy consumption by 74%. The Transit Center will achieve LEED Platinum and the Tower LEED Gold.

Pelli Clark/Hines: The Transit Center’s architecture is open, full of light and clean air, and environmentally sustainable. We propose transforming the roof of the Transit Center into a 5.4-acre public park. Our Transbay Tower is a simple and eternal form, like an obelisk. At its base is Mission Square, a grand public space sheltered under a flowing glass and steel canopy that forms the ceremonial entrance to the Transit Center. The Transit Center is infused with natural light coming through Light Columns that also open views of the sky and the trees of City Park to all users.

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