The Embarcadero Center is even known as the modernist response to the art deco statement of New York City’s Rockefeller Center. Yet, due to seismic codes and other factors when these buildings were designed, most of San Francisco’s great architecture is of the concrete variety.
Even the Embarcadero Center is coated in waves of concrete. While it’s certainly modernist, it’s not steel and glass with a beautifully exposed steel frame in the mold of the father of modernism, Ludwig Mies Van der Rohe.
Thanks to Uber, though, that’s all going to change with a new complex planned for San Francisco’s up-and-coming Mission Bay neighborhood. Uber is, in short, building a glass house. And they promise not to throw stones.
The “inside-out” design seeks to reinforce the openness of Uber’s corporate culture, according to Adony Beniares, head of workplace operations. “There is a transparency we have internally where anybody can talk to anybody about what is going on,” regardless of title or level of responsibility, he said.
A side effect of that is that modernists are getting a 423,000-square-foot complex of two beautiful, connected buildings with exposed steel cross-beams and girders. Mies would be so proud!
The design team of SHoP Architects and Studio O+A have delivered a design that includes glass walls on all sides, and exposed skeleton of high-strength structural steel and only entirely necessary masonry. Moment frames and specialty steel for the x-bracings will likely satisfy seismic codes for the structure when it is built as advances in high-strength steel can now make such a design work in San Francisco, eliminating the need for the downright brutalist concrete cladding of the past.
The Uber complex will feature an 11‐story tower at 1455 Third Street and a six‐story structure at 1515 Third Street. Uber hopes to officially break ground by the end of the year, and is targeting a late 2017 or early 2018 opening for its new modernist buildings.