New San Francisco mixed-use tower billed as most earthquake-resistant building on the West Coast

A megabrace is a key seismic component at 181 Fremont, with offices, residences, and retail space.

July 14, 2016 |

Welding has begun on a 70-story-tall office and residential tower in earthquake prone San Franciso that claims it can resist a 500-year earthquake, and be back in full operation within a month after a catastrophic event. Image: Courtesy of 181 Fremont

The developer of 181 Fremont, a 70-story residential and office tower being built in San Francisco, claims this will be the most earthquake-resistant building on the West Coast when it is completed in the summer of 2017.

Jay Paul Company acquired this development from SKS Investments in 2013, and estimates its cost at $665 million. The Class A building will include 432,000 sf of office space, 67 luxury condos on its top 17 floors, and 3,000 sf of retail space.

The building’s architecture (by Heller Manus), residential interior design (by Orlando Diaz-Azcuy) and engineering (by Arup) revolve around a unique megabrace that, according to the developer, would virtually eliminate structural damage from a significant (i.e., 500-year) earthquake. Jay Paul also believes this design could set new standards for earthquake resilience for urban development.

The resilience-based design focuses on saving lives and minimizing structural damage, property loss, and protection of the building’s MEP systems. The building features a sawtooth curtainwall, passive solar energy, and a water-recycling system. It’s the only residential tower in San Francisco to be pre-certified LEED Platinum.

“The seismic design is consistent with our approach to position 181 Fremont as the preeminent tower in San Francisco in every aspect of design and development,” said Matt Lituchy, CIO of Jay Paul Company.

181 Fremont’s calling card is its claim that a seismic event wouldn’t disrupt the building’s business continuity. Occupants and businesses would be able to return to the tower with complete access to business operations, and the building would be fully functional again, within one month. The elevator systems are also designed for continuous operation during a catastrophic event, with contingencies for emergency evacuations.

The tower is adjacent to the new Transbay Transit Center.

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