The building has a very small footprint, sitting on a 30’ wide 2400 square foot building site, and rises to a height of 180 feet, for a total of 31,500 square feet of interior floor area.
The structural system makes use of important new carbon-positive building methods: CNC-prefabricated heavy timber construction using a glue-laminated (GLB) post and beam braced-frame structure; CNC prefabricated, glue laminated timber (dowel-laminated GLT) full-span floor panels with cast-in-place hydronically-heated concrete topping slabs; CNC-prefabricated, cross-laminated timber (CLT) shear walls, elevator and stair core, internal walls, soffits, ceilings and acoustical panels; Energy-saving hydronic in-floor heating and chilled beam cooling, with facade-integrated natural ventilation panels; Exterior cladding of lapped, frameless glazing panels, both clear and fritted, assembled to form a continuous sheathing of tiled, laminated glass, inspired by ancient forms of stone-tiled armor once used by Chinese and Japanese warriors, an image not unfamiliar, at least subliminally, in this cosmopolitan Pacific-rim city rich with important collections of Asian art . As a theater building, the shear core and other opaque walls and massive cantilevered soffit of the building continue the same facade glazing pattern, but with translucent glass covering full -surface LED signage. At night, slowly scrolling marquee text announces the theater location and its offerings directly to the street below and to commuters passing by on overhead ramps.
As the site enjoys a rare incidence of near-surface bedrock on San Francisco’s Rincon Hill, the design does not use more typical deep, drilled piers, but instead the foundation is fully excavated to bedrock to build a deep, mat-slab concrete foundation, facilitating cost-effective below-grade program space. Below-grade foundation retaining walls consist of permanent, sheet pile steel shoring cross-braced with permanent interior heavy-timber structural bracing between walls, not unlike the timber shoring in a traditional mineshaft. Each of these construction systems is a technologically advanced adaptation of familiar construction methods, taking advantage of new building code enhancements and pushing the envelope of typical methods in order to cost-effectively employ off-site fabrication efficiency and use of carbon-sequestering, renewable building materials paired with energy-efficient mechanical systems. With high local construction costs, skilled labor shortages and logistical complexities of the small-footprint, traffic-congested location, the off-site prefabrication, material and labor efficiencies of these construction methods are especially affordable and environmentally positive within the local context.
At the intersection of narrow San Francisco streets, amongst low-rise buildings and high-rise construction, this tower’s plan creates a significant new public nexus and pedestrian throughway. It supports the city’s planned network of pedestrian alleys radiating outward from the Transbay Terminal into the SoMA District. Timber construction, combined with recent and upcoming building code advances allow this project to embrace environmentally positive, carbon-sequestering, fire-resistant wood construction technologies in an urban building.
At the same time, the building will have new opportunities for theater, music, arts and design within the neighborhood. Combining all factors of family, urban contribution and technology advancement, we call it the Matchstick, but its heavy timber construction is highly fire-resistant. The building is an urban stage, its glowing marquee crown surrounded by carpets of street light rolling outward toward a shimmering bay rising fearsomely ever round us.