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Salesforce Tower Reshaping The San Francisco Skyline

SAN FRANCISCO (CBS SF) – Nearly from every venue, it's very apparent that the San Francisco skyline has changed forever.

For the first time since the Transmerica Pyramid was constructed in 1972, a new iconic building is visible to all.

"We are seeing the most profound and dramatic change to the skyline since the late 60s and early 70s, when the Transamerica Pyramid went up and the Bank of America building went up, all the flat-top towers in there," said John King, the architecture critic for the San Francisco Chronicle.

No matter what road brings you to San Francisco, it's right in front from all. From the East Bay Hills to Bernal Heights, the skyscraper is grand.

"This one is sort of - - 'Hey, I'm here, you're not going to miss me," said Jasper Rubin, a professor of urban planning from San Francisco State. "You know when you have the tallest building, there's something about 'the tallest building' that really marks a spot."

So how tall is the new Salesforce Tower?

The Bank of America Building stands 799 feet tall. The Pyramid is 853 feet. The Salesforce Tower tops 1,000 feet.

But taller doesn't necessarily mean larger.

"Funny thing about that building, it has about 1.4 million square feet," King said, "The Bank of America building has 1.8 million square feet in it."

The building is also symbolic about a change in local political thinking. For years, city leaders fought what they called the Manhattanization of San Francisco and limited growth.

"Throughout the 70s you had various initiatives to try and slow down downtown, stop Manhattanization," King said. "The planning department down-zoned the towers that were allowed."

It created what many believed was a boring, boxy skyline.

"The refrigerator boxes - which people called them from the 70s were aesthetically displeasing to many people," Rubin said.

Current San Francisco Planning Director Dean Macris says what the skyline needs is 'more oomph.'

"It would be nice to see a little more peaking there," he said.

The Salesforce Tower and its neighbor the Millennium Tower has moved downtown's center of gravity.

"I think it's marking a dramatic shift in the weight of the city from the traditional financial core, to South of Market which has been happening for a while," Rubin said.

King agrees.

"So this is the new center of town," King said. "Theoretically, this is the heart of big city San Francisco."

While there are critics of the new skyline, Rubin said the objections are nowhere near those of the past.

"There may be some people who will dislike the tower, but it's nothing like the fights there used to be," Rubin said.


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