I let my nose guide me to the 1545 Pine Street property. A pungent odor of old musty wood, aided by the thick misty morning breeze, drifted down the sidewalk as I made my way to the site. Peering through breaks in the wrapped perimeter fencing, I noticed excavators wrecking the wooden frames of old buildings and forming scrap piles of splintered lumber. A modern 12 story building is poised to rise on the rubble strewn property and supply the city with 103 condos, 84 subterranean parking spaces, and 2,700 sq. feet of ground retail.
Residents of the new building may enjoy being in the more affluent Nob Hill neighborhood but will notice the surrounding area to be somewhat more grittier. The site, lying on the western edge of Nob Hill, also resides in an overlapping area referred to as Polk Gulch, a gentrifying neighborhood that stretches along Polk Street from Geary Boulevard to Union Street. The 145 foot building and its modern clean design will jazz up the local area, bring more foot traffic, and subsequently add safety to the nighttime local streets and alleyways.
Arquitectonica has given a clean contemporary look to the building. Renderings show an exterior consisting of block forms arranged in a Tetris style pattern. Each block is outlined in thick white borders that give a substantial element to the building’s delicate glassy facade. When completed, the structure will overwhelm shorter abutting buildings but be shadowed by the nearby taller and bulkier Holiday Inn tower.
Diffused throughout Nob Hill are hidden open spaces between buildings that add to the local charm of the neighborhood. Many times these spaces are brimming with trees and flowers that attract birds and local wildlife. Smelling fresh jasmine during daytime walks and hearing birds chirping on warm spring mornings, make Nob Hill a serene oasis and refuge from the nearby mayhem of downtown San Francisco. The new building, designed to occupy the entire site, missed an opportunity to include such a quasi public open space. Such a natural feature would soften a hardscaped area dominated by buildings, streets, sidewalks, and the noise of vehicles.