Transbay Terminal Groundbreaking – Huge Turnout, with Pelosi, Boxer, LaHood…

Here’s the mise-en-scene:

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And here are the stars: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood, United States Senator Barbara Boxer, and, at the podium, that Transbay Joint Powers Authority Executive Director I remember meeting at Town Hall in SoMA a half-decade ago. (Didn’t know what this project was all about back then – anyway, she’s still totally gorgeous. Oh, turns out I still have her business card, she’s Maria Ayerdi-Kaplan and she went to UC Berkeley undergrad and UC Hastings Law School, like a kajillion lawyers in town.)

Also on hand was a host of more local pols, like Assemblywoman Fiona Ma, Mayor Gavin Newsom, Board of Supervisors President David Chiu,  Supervisor Chris Daly, Supervisor Sophie Maxwell, SFMTA CEO Nat Ford (“Chairman of the Ford” he was called), the list went on and on.

And, that savvy AND very smart (a dangerous combination that’s rare in San Francisco politics) former Mayor Willie Brown knew just when to show up to make the maximum impact. His late-on-purpose Grand Entrance was made all the grander with the biggest hat I’ve seen him wearing. (Any smiles you see house right/stage left are not really happy smiles, they’re looks of disapproval. Oh well.)

Throw in buzzwords / phrases such as Grand Central Station of the West, world-class city, constancy, and you got yourself the Transbay Terminal groundbreaking in a nutshell.

Expect the “tallest tower in the West” and “San Francisco’s newest neighborhood” to come online by 2017 or later.

All the deets, after the jump

Construction Begins for Transbay Transit Center

Building designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects to open in 2017

SAN FRANCISCO, Aug. 11 /PRNewswire/ — Construction began today with a groundbreaking ceremony for the Transbay Transit Center, San Francisco’s new state-of-the-art, multi-modal transportation hub designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. Scheduled to open in 2017, this landmark glass-and-steel structure will connect the city and the Bay Area via 11 public transit systems.  Notably, the Transbay Transit Center will be the San Francisco station for California High Speed Rail and the first new high-speed rail station in the United States.  Conceived as “the Grand Central of the West,” the building is designed in the spirit of the great train stations of the world. The highly sustainable and accessible building is distinguished by dramatic light-filled spaces and a 5.4-acre rooftop park.

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“We are very proud of our design for the Transbay Transit Center,” said Cesar Pelli, Senior Principal of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects, whose winning design was selected in an international competition in 2007. “This will be a beautiful, functional and sustainable building for San Francisco.”

The project, which is being built on the site of the Transbay Terminal at First and Mission streets, will also spur development in the surrounding city blocks and anchor a new neighborhood.

“We are very excited about the civic mission of the Transbay project,” said Fred Clarke, Senior Principal of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects. “We want this to be a great transit center — one by which the city is perceived — but it must also be a great neighbor.”

The Transbay Transit Center is designed to be graceful, luminous, welcoming and safe. An exterior glass wall with undulating forms like petals of a flower will create a civilized presence on the street. These undulations also respond to the building’s robust concrete-and-steel structural system, which is engineered for performance in the event of severe earthquakes.

A public plaza on Mission Street marks the primary entrance to the Transit Center. The main public space — the Grand Hall — will be suffused with natural light. The central element, a 120-foot-tall “light column,” is a structural component that reaches from the park to the Lower Concourse. Topped with a 4,000-square-foot domed skylight, the light column not only supports the building, but draws daylight deep into the interior and frames views of the park above.

A richly varied place offering both activity and quiet relaxation, the park will be part of the daily experience of people living and working in the neighborhood. Walking paths, playgrounds, cafes, a 1,000-person performance venue, and 12 gardens, each representing a different natural environment, will form a full-fledged urban park. In addition, a 1,000-foot-long fountain will have jets of water triggered by the movement of buses below. Over time, bridges will be added to connect adjacent buildings to the park, fully integrating it into San Francisco’s urban fabric.

As one of the country’s greenest buildings, the Transbay Transit Center will use multiple sustainable design strategies. The most visible is the park, which will absorb and filter pollutants through its trees, landscape and water management system. Beneath the Transit Center, a massive geothermal heat exchange system will be built into the building’s foundation. Running the length of 4 1/2 city blocks, it will be one of the largest geothermal installations in the world. To further reduce energy consumption, the building will be naturally ventilated and most spaces will be naturally lit. Finally, the building will manage stormwater and reuse greywater. The water reuse and conservation system will save 9.2 million gallons per year, the equivalent of 19 Olympic-sized swimming pools. The building is targeted to achieve a Gold LEED rating.

Intended to be a destination for both transit users and the general public, the building will offer street-level shops, cafes and public promenades. In addition, the architecture integrates works by significant contemporary artists including James Carpenter, Julie Chang, Jenny Holzer, and Ned Kahn.

About Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

Founded in 1977 and led by Cesar Pelli, Fred Clarke, and Rafael Pelli, Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects has designed some of the world’s most recognizable buildings. The firm’s portfolio includes transportation facilities, office towers, academic buildings, research centers, libraries, performing art centers, museums, residences, and master plans. The work of Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects reflects the belief that a firm must not be constrained by a signature style, but that great design arises from collaboration with clients and respect for each project’s environmental, economic, and social contexts. The firm has been honored with critical acclaim and hundreds of design awards, including the American Institute of Architects’ Firm Award and the Aga Khan Award for Architecture. For more information, visit

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Source: Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects

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