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Foster + Partners-designed towers approved as part of massive neighborhood redevelopment in San Francisco

One of Oceanwide Center’s buildings will be the city’s second tallest. 

May 17, 2016 |

The ground floors of Oceanwide Center's two towers will be lifted up five stories to create an “urban room” with pedestrian crossings. Image: Foster + Partners

A November groundbreaking is scheduled for the 2.3-million-sf Oceanwide Center in San Francisco that, when completed, will be part of this city’s ambitious creation of a new Transbay neighborhood that includes more than 6 million sf of new downtown office space in a high-density commercial core surrounding the new five-story Transbay Transit Center.

The San Francisco Planning Commission has granted planning permission for Oceanwide Center, consisting of two towers—a 605-foot-high building for a hotel and residences, and an 850-foot-tall office and residential building—that will be located within a 22,000-sf lot in the South of Market Street (SOMA) district. The designers are Foster + Partners and Heller Manus Architects.

Foster + Partners states that this project will include new public spaces and pedestrian connections that are designed to support increased density, which is one of the goals of the larger Transbay development. Kathryn Gustafson of the firm Gustafson Guthrie Nichol is Oceanwide Center’s landscape architect.

The ground level of the buildings will be “lifted up” by almost five stories to provide the neighborhood with an “urban room” with walking routes cutting through the site, and leading to shops, cafes, and green spaces.

“This development will be the new exemplar of urban living with exciting places to live and work right alongside the central transport hub,” sayd Stefan Behling, Foster + Partners’ Senior Executive Partner.  

Beijing-based Oceanwide Holdings acquired this site in early 2015, according to the website The plans would require tearing down three buildings. The developer also intends to renovate two existing commercial buildings on First Street. Hoodline reports that Oceanwide Center will include 265 residential units, 169 hotel rooms, 12,500 sf of ground-floor retail, and 26,000 sf of privately owned public open space.

The Transbay Redevelopment Project has three interconnected elements:

  • Replacing the former Transbay Terminal at First and Mission Streets
  • Extending Caltrain and California High Speed Rail underground from Caltrain’s current terminal at 4th and King Streets into the new downtown Transit Center
  • Creating a new neighborhood of homes, offices, parks, and shops surround the Transit Center.

The first phase will create a new five-story Transit Center with one above-grade bus level, ground-floor, concourse, and two below-grade rail levels serving Caltrain and future California High Speed Rail. Phase I will also create new bus ramp that will connect the Transit Center to a new off-site bus storage facility and the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge.

The Transit Center is designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects (PCPA), and will feature a 5.4-acre park on the roof of the bus and rail station. A complementary transit tower designed by PCPA and developed by Hines will be built adjacent to the Transit Center and will provide additional financing for the project.

Aside from the new office space, other highlights of the Transbay redevelopment plan include:

  • Nearly 4,400 units of new housing, 1,200 of which will be permanently affordable.
  • Approximately 100,000 sf of new retail space, much of it in the Transbay Transit Center.
  • Nearly 1,000 new hotel rooms.
  • A dramatic new skyline punctuated by a limited number of taller buildings, including a 1,070-foot-tall Salesforce Tower, the tallest in San Francisco, adjacent to the Transbay Transit Center.
  • Wide sidewalks with landscaping, lighting, seating, and pedestrian amenities.
  • Mid-block crossings keyed to alleyway systems and other pedestrian safety improvements.
  • Safe and convenient bicycle lanes.
  • A total of more than 11 acres of new public parks and open space.

According to the San Francisco Planning Department, the Transit Center District Plan and the Transbay Redevelopment Plan will generate more than $2.7 billion in net additional public funding for the construction of the Transbay Program and affordable housing in the Transbay neighborhood. Together, the Plans will generate more than 25,000 construction job-years and 27,000 permanent jobs.


One of Oceanwide Center's towers, at 805 feet, will be the second tallest in San Francisco. Image: Foster + Partners



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