A Skyline-Defining High Rise in San Francisco's Newest Neighborhood
December 23, 2019
The East Cut
When taking on the task of creating a new neighborhood in historical San Francisco, bold vision is essential. Turning the South of Market Street (SoMa) neighborhood into the Transit Center District, also known as the East Cut, has required just that: bold vision. This slice of San Francisco, once isolated by residual 20th-century freeway infrastructure, required reinvention to become a vibrant, fully integrated, mixed-use neighborhood from the ground up. Internationally renowned architecture firm, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, has led the charge in defining this new model for high-density redevelopment in a city with an ever-growing population.
High-End Vertical Living
A key aspect of this new neighborhood’s development has been the revitalization of Folsom Street as the East Cut’s “Main Street.” This major thoroughfare is being defined by mid-rise and high-rise buildings, with architectural eye candy, 500 Folsom at the forefront. This 42-story tower, located at the corner of Folsom and 1st, has 537 residences, including 32 penthouses spanning the top four floors, as well as below-market-rate options. Residents of the 440-foot tower’s upper floors enjoy unobstructed city views and glimpses of the Bay Bridge, Oracle Park, and the new Chase Center.
The Architectural Vision
500 Folsom’s architecturally significant tower is articulated as a series of “maisonettes,” or stacking volumes, that echo the scale of the podium and other historic brick buildings in the immediate neighborhood. This play of volumes is strengthened by a series of alternating vertical spaces lined in red terra-cotta and featuring shaded residential balconies. The unique curtain wall, with white metal fins, provides interior shade and visual interest when viewed from the exterior. These features, along with a unique terra-cotta crown, endow the tower with an iconic and distinguishing presence amongst the city’s multifaceted skyline.
The building’s foundation consists of two mid-rise podium blocks, designed by Fougeron Architecture. This foundation, along with the tower, forms a gateway and paseo, linking Folsom Street to Clementina Street, and will be the future location of Oscar Park. The entry space, with its broad opening and high ceiling, is described as an “urban living room.” It invites residents and guests to occupy the space, which is bookended by retail. The architecture features a series of carved out spaces and balconies rendered in shades of earth red and gray.
Amenities for an Urban Lifestyle
In addition to spacious, light-filled apartments with high-end finishes and appliances, 500 Folsom offers vibrant amenities to downtown city dwellers seeking a live-work-play lifestyle. The building’s sprawling ninth floor offers residents two city and Bay view terraces, a spa, BBQ areas, sundecks with stunning views and a firepit, the Fit Club fitness center, and community garden. 500 Folsom offers two additional fitness centers, including the HIIT Zone, a high-intensity training room featuring Peloton® bikes and TRX rack system, and a Flex & Flow yoga studio with ballet barre. The building is also equipped with a Paw Spa dog-washing station and six levels of underground parking.
Green Living in an Urban Jungle
500 Folsom is designed to achieve LEED Silver certification standards. The building features natural ventilation through operable windows, exterior shading, high-performance glass, and an energy-efficient hydronic heat pump system in each residence. The structure is equipped with low-flow fixtures and photovoltaics to pre-heat boilers, while a rainwater-harvesting and greywater system collects, treats, and recycles water for landscape irrigation. Additionally, the building uses high-recycled content and other materials that meet strict low-emissions and low-VOC standards as 500 Folsom takes the lead in green high-rise living.
A Vision for Urban Living
With its inspired architectural vision by SOM, activated lifestyle amenities, and prioritization of energy efficiency, 500 Folsom makes a bold statement as a major presence in San Francisco’s dynamic and burgeoning East Cut neighborhood.
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