New plans have been filed for two 39-story towers at 655 4th Street in SoMa, San Francisco. The plans, drafted by architecture firm SCB, represent a significant shift from the previously-approved design by Bjarke Ingels Group for four swooping towers. Tishman Speyer is the project developer.
The two 400-foot tall towers will yield a combined 1.144 million square feet, with 1.135 million square feet for housing, 9,450 square feet for retail, and 7,740 square feet for a Privately Owned Public Open Space or POPOS. Parking will be included for 283 cars and 427 bicycles.
The new application has removed the hotel and co-working components from 655 4th Street, shifted the POPOS from an interior courtyard to a visible corner location and focused the retail space on the public realm. Writing to YIMBY, a spokesperson for Tishman Speyer said, “these changes will create a more viable project. Tishman Speyer is committed to moving the project forward at the point and time that make sense.”
The new proposal will provide more dwellings, with 1,148 apartments. Unit sizes will vary with 287 studios, 415 one-bedrooms, 409 two-bedrooms, and 46 three-bedrooms. A total of 138 private balconies will be spread across the two towers.
Solomon Cordwell Buenz is responsible for the design. Renderings show the basic massing for two towers rising from 11-story podiums, divided by an open-air balcony. The project will include new trees along 4th Street and Townsend and an open-air landscaped plaza at the very corner, functioning as the project’s POPOS. Retail shops will encircle the plaza.
It is clear that the high-profile block will not look anything like the curved project by BIG. Beyond that, the design for 655 4th Street remains preliminary, and it is unclear if SCB will be the final design architect or if Tishman Speyer will hire a design architect for the exterior, as Strada had for 395 3rd Street. Preliminary massings by SCB for 395 3rd were followed up eight months later with a Redwood-inspired design by Henning Larsen Architects.
The new plans have come paired with a Preliminary Project Application review by the planning department. The document highlights three points for the development team to revise; cohesion with the Central SoMa Plan, POPOS pedestrian access, and coordination with the planned Downtown Extension rail project, which aims to connect the Caltrain station with the Transbay center.
The architecture firm will have to contend with the Central SoMa Plan. Among the design requirements, the preliminary project application document dictates that “the Project architecture should substantially differentiate the expression of the two towers, including but not limits to height, bulk, modulation, and architectural expression… They should each add a distinct character to the skyline.”
The current application is preliminary, offering the most basic visual illustrations of the potential massing. The above extract from the Central SoMa Plan provides just one insight into how the project may change throughout the approval process.
Adamson Associates and BIG designed the previous iteration, first filed in 2015 and called The Creamery. The 425-foot project would include two structures, each with a half-block podium and two towers. There will be 960 homes, a 38-room hotel, 24,500 square feet for retail, and parking for 276 cars.
655 4th Street is a 1.64-acre plot of land at the corner of 4th and Townsend Street, directly across from the city’s Caltrain Station. Demolition will be required for three existing buildings and surface parking. An estimated timeline for construction and completion has not yet been established.