Chicago, Illinois, United States
For 680 Folsom, the project team utilized creative solutions and careful design to reinvent an aging commercial complex in the heart of San Francisco. Often, the trend in large-scale urban development is to demolish existing buildings and start anew, but 680 Folsom was transformed from the inside out.
The original building, completed in 1964, was designed for the Pacific Telegraph Company. Though it needed several major improvements, the building offered a unique opportunity for reuse given its sizable floor plates and expansive views in all directions.
The SOM-designed renovation was extensive in scope. The team created several small floor plate additions to transform the building’s massing. Fortress-like, concrete facade panels and the entire service core were removed, exposing the building to its steel skeleton. The insertion of a new concrete core substantially improved the building’s seismic resiliency and enabled several additions, both horizontal and vertical. The abrasive wall, which blocked the entrance from the street, was removed to create an open, light, and welcoming space that engages the community.
Defined by simple, finely proportioned massing, the building is clad in a high-performance unitized glass curtain wall. The glazing enables daylight to reach deep into the interior while also providing sweeping views and a connection to the surrounding neighborhood. The new envelope contributed to a significant improvement in energy performance and the project received LEED® Platinum certification.
680 Folsom represents a synergy between aesthetic composition, inventive structural solutions, and integrated landscape design. The building actively contributes to the vitality of the city and the community as a whole. The project offers a new paradigm for how to convert an outdated, monolithic block into a work of innovative and inviting architecture.