San Francisco

Describing San Francisco, you can easily tell the story of unmistakable characters, in certain places of the city, at certain times of the day, the most unique things will happen. The population seems to be as drawn to the inspiring characters as to the parts they all play, constantly evolving by getting influenced by each other, letting the cities environment nurture the innovation of tomorrow.

image courtesy of flickr user Nikkorz


The future of San Francisco is grand in its fashion: in 2040 the Bay Area will be inhabited by approx.9.3 million doers and dreamers, a population of innovators and entrepreneurs increasing steadily by 1% per year. These numbers put the Bay Area at the top, the second largest region in California, both according to population and economic measures.

New men and women will arrive, having a dream just like the people from the Bay. Employment in the greater San Francisco Area is expected to grow over 20% by 2025, which means 700,000 new job opportunities. With more than two thirds of the new jobs divided between health, education and hospitality, the service sector will undergo a remarkable uplift in the years to come. A little less than half of those jobs will be in the region’s largest urban areas – San Jose, San Francisco and Oakland.

  • History of San Francisco


    When first cable car was tested in Nob Hill by Andrew Hallidie, Nob Hill became accessible and crowded with fabulous Victorian mansions.
  • History of San Francisco


    Daniel Burnham proposes redesign of city which envisions one third of entire land with twelve small parks and playgrounds.
  • 1906

    Earthquake and fire in which over 500 people perished. Ten square kilometers (four square miles) of the city were destroyed as fires raged out of control for three days.
  • 1912

    First muni streetcars launch on December 28th.
  • 1915

    Panama-Pacific International Exposition (PPIE) was held.
  • 1918

    Twin Peaks Tunnel opened: the streetcar tunnel opened up the West Portal and Parkside neigh- borhoods. This meant someone can have a new home only 22mins away from downtown job.
  • 1936

    San Francisco - Oakland Bay Bridge opens Total length: 23,556ft (7.18km)
  • 1937

    Golden Gate Bridge opens Total length: 8,981ft (2.74km)
  • 1957

    Worst earthquake since 1906 damaged buildings throughout the city but most extensive in the western portions.
  • 1985

    The Downtown Plan was adopted under the fundamental assumption that significant employment and office development growth would occur.
  • 1986

    A strict growth control ballot initiative provided for a yearly ceiling on commercial office construction in a downtown that was losing sunshine and suffering from skyscraper-induced wind tunnels
  • History of Real Estate


    The first Wells Fargo Bank was opened in San Francisco.
  • History of Real Estate


    Hallidie Building: Credited as the first American building to feature glass curtain walls.
  • History of Real Estate


    888 Brannan opens to the public
  • History of Real Estate


    Pacific Telephone Building: Neo-Gothic building in the South of Market area was a significant skyscraper when it was built. Yelp is going to occupy the renovated office.
  • History of Real Estate


    Shell Building(100 Bush St.): Shell Oil Company occupied the building until the 60’s. The architectural style is Gothic Moderne, Moderne and Art Deco.
  • History of Real Estate


    Crown Zellerbach(1 Bush): The first significant structure erected in the 30yrs following the start of the Great Depres- sion. One of the first International Style buildings in the US completed shortly after the Lever House and Seagram Building.
  • History of Real Estate


    One Maritime Plaza: One of the earliest buildings to use seismic bracing in the form of external trusses and X-braces.
  • History of Real Estate


    360 Third St.: This building contains one of the largest blocks of contiguous vacant space in South of Market district, which is going to be leased by the company Square Trade.
  • History of Real Estate


    1 Front St opens
  • History of Real Estate


    Federal Building(90 Seventh St.): The building was designed to be a 'green' building consuming less than half the power of a standard office tower and is the first naturally ventilated office building on the west coast since the advent of air conditioning.
  • History of Real Estate


    Transbay Terminal Tower, part of the The San Francisco Transbay development plan, consists of three supertall skyscrapers and ten other skyscrapers proposed in San Francisco.



The future of the workspace is user-defined. In the Bay Area, property owners, architects and designers are ready to go beyond the standards, crafting new ideas, in order to accommodate for the steady growth of new tenants and unexpected ways of working.


Each city is different from one another:  streams, winds and rhythms will make a city distinct; the passage from one activity to another however could be less differentiating. A city is likely to repeat itself, inhabitants repeating actions and companies creating the same scene over and over again. With new initiatives, organizations in San Francisco are keen to merge local ways with corporate culture to appeal to an increasingly fickle public, capitalizing on diversity in order to express identity rather than carbon-copying the life of another town.



It is the environment that gives innovation its form. If you go by movement you will have interaction, if you go by awareness you will have collaboration and if you create proximity you will have a better understanding. You cannot say that one aspect of the environment is truer than another, but you can see the correlation between connections being made and innovations taking form.




The traditional core center of an office building is now at risk and many will argue that it is already a space of the past. Larger, open flooring allows for community development and interaction at the office, which leads to better results as opposed to the previous focus on a center point with less movement. Being static is not as conductive as the collaborative culture desired by today’s creative tenants.

  • Typical Floorplates

    North of Market

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  • Typical Floorplates

    South of Market

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  • Typical Floorplates

    On the Peninsula

  • Typical Floorplates

    Big is In

Case Study

Embarcadero Center

At the center of the bay, in what used to be called the Barbary coast, a young city planner in the fifties started to sketch what we now know as Embarcadero – the city within the city. Built over the coarse of fifteen years, the Embarcadero Center is a 9.8-acre site, a commercial hub with shops, restaurants and services, including five office towers and two hotels located in the heart of the financial district.  With incredible views of the waterfront, the Golden Gate, the Bay Bridge and the city grids the four blocks have attracted over 16,000 office tenants. Over the coarse of 40 years the towers have grown into a complex holding 40,000 people daily, working, eating, shopping and going to the cinema, making the Embarcadero Center one of the largest complex of its kind.

Challenges + Opportunities


Iconic Class A Office Space

Almost Always Fully Leased

Unobstructed City Views



Challenging Above Street Retail Space

Difficult to Fully Lease

Occasional Foot Traffic During the Week

  • The Cloud

    Potential Solution

    In the city of dreamers and doers we are looking ahead to find the links to re-imagine the inspiration that created the Embarcadero center. As an urban commercial hub the center has aspired to create a vibrant Eco system with a vast spectrum of tenants. A hub with a 24/7 commercial climate is attractive, now more than ever.
  • The Cloud

    Potential Solution

    The plan to improve the office landscape continues with the introduction of podium levels. Creating a footprint extension following the demands from new creative and innovative tech tenants, from new established companies to complete startups.
  • The Cloud

    Potential Solution

  • The Cloud

    Potential Solution

× Gensler San Francisco

Lauren Hibner
Meehae Kwon
Alex Palmisano
Ben Parco
Michael Townsend
Peter Weingarten
Mickey Mazerac
John Parman
Lisa Bottom
Krystal Grubb
Ben Parco
Joan Price
Scott Dewoody
Adam Nakagoshi
Sarah Young
Nicholas Prato
John Halverson
Brian Scott
Goetz Frank
Aaron Williams
Jeremy Magner
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