A ‘New York’ Tower in San Francisco? Not Skinny Enough.

A ‘New York’ Tower in San Francisco? Not Skinny Enough.

At 61 stories high, the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco now dominates the city’s skyline. And not all San Franciscans are happy about it.

One local architecture critic calls it a building that belongs in New York or even Chicago. It wasn’t a compliment. But it should be. New York could show us a few things about the state of building tall. And it’s skinnier than ever.

The AP reports, via the Press Democrat, that the “$1.1 billion skyscraper has already changed [San Francisco’s] iconic skyline, towering over old favorites like Coit Tower and the Transamerica Pyramid. Unlike in New York and Chicago, the new 1,070-foot (326-meter) high-rise is a gargantuan presence in this liberal West Coast city.”

That’s pretty tall, even by the standards of New York’s building heights. Don’t worry, San Francisco, you’re in no danger of catching up with New York’s ever-changing skyline, which keeps plowing upward with Hudson Yards development, the 28-acre project that is considered the largest office park project in the country and the biggest in New York since the Rockefeller Center.

Lets put the Salesforce tower into context with New York’s obsession with height. If it was a New York building, its 1,070 feet would rank as its sixth-tallest, just ahead of the Chrysler Building at 1,050 feet and right behind Three World Trade Center, which tops out at 1,079 feet, according to a Wikipedia page of the tallest buildings in New York City.

It will soon have more competition in the height department with the 30 Hudson Yards building, which is slated to top out at 1,296 feet by its completion in 2019. Plenty of other buildings will be flirting with its height as one of many high-rises planned in the 18-million sq. ft development.

That would put it in just behind the tallest building, One World Trade, which, at 1,776 feet high, is a very patriotic height, and second-tallest, the residential building 432 Park Avenue at 1,398 feet, followed by the Empire State building at 1,250 feet, the Bank of America Tower at 1,200 feet.

New York is not only building taller than ever. The big trend in the skyline is super slender buildings. The skyscraper museum’s website breaks down the ratios of height to width that define these skinny buildings.

This excellent video from WSP engineering features many building experts, including Carol Willis, explaining the higher and slender features of many luxury residential buildings, which features 432 Park Avenue, the second-tallest building in the city.  (It also features a comment from Gary Pomerantz, an MEP engineer I worked with briefly years ago at Flack + Kurtz. Shout out to Gary!)

And although we don’t endorse the Lincoln welder machines featured in this video, we think the images provide a unique view of the conditions that construction workers toil in, which, no matter what style of building, is the common feature between the Salesforce tower addition to San Francisco and the New York skyline: the workers who get it done.

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