Minna Tower

San Francisco


Occasionally we see opportunity in a site that has been overlooked by most. A small, dilapidated, two story building occupies a site on Minna Street, a back alley near SFMOMA. It is surrounded by historic buildings whose envelopes cannot be expanded, but has no historic rating itself. The zoning height limit is 160 feet. How about a skinny, 16 story building?

It could be a mix of uses; restaurant on the ground floor, offices or galleries on intermediate floors, and full or half-floor penthouse condominiums above. A compact core with two elevators and scissor stair containing both code-required exits would yield approximately 3,000 square feet of rentable or saleable area on each floor.

Conceived as a highly sustainable building, the tower includes on-site energy generation. Windports (vertical axis wind turbines) combined with a photovoltaic rain screen could provide over 50% of its power. The street facade is conceived as a variegated plane with sunscreens acting passively to shade the windows, actively as photovoltaic clad projections. A shallow pool on the roof would serve as a heat rejection system at night.