By: Caitlin Nelson

The San Francisco Chronicle recently published an article by urban design critic John King about the proposed developments along Market Street. King notes that a number of developers are looking to build housing and hotels on the blocks between Fifth and Eighth streets, but isn’t optimistic about the potential for the future projects to rejuvenate the historically crime-ridden area.

He argues that most of the new buildings seem to be aesthetically overcompensating, with too many competing architectural styles that will result in an overall look of confusion in the area that is currently marked by simpler, sturdier infrastructure.

Bold Plans for a Big Space at 950 Market

The largest proposed project is at 950 Market Street, where a 16-story residential and a 20-story hotel building would meet to frame a lower central “arts bar” intended to hold cultural spaces. As King describes, the project will fill almost the entire block bounded by Market, Turk and Taylor streets.

The project will be flanked on either side by two new housing buildings, one at 13 stories and another at 14 stories. Designed by Denmark’s Bjarke Ingels, the complex will have a narrow front prow that leans forward as it rises, molded white skin, and windows with shadows distributed in a random matter. The arts bar will have walls of glass that resemble screens and rise 80 feet above the sidewalks. Each end will be draped in a moveable bronze metal scrim, which is intended to open and close in the manner of a movie screen curtain.

Style Versus Functionality on South Market

At 1028 Market – a residential building with a design combination of an anvil and a cloud – is in the works. It will contain a dark, six-story base with black tile-framed arches that lie beneath a glass-encased summit where windows emerge in a sawtooth pattern. At 1066 Market, the new building is intended to have a concrete collage with black, gray and white stacks inset with window strips resembling Morse code.

Will this architectural boldness “clash” with the other buildings? Some critics think so…

Yet both sides of this design and development debate hope to work toward the common goal of making Market Street safer, more economically stable, and overall a more livable area that caters to residents and visitors alike. It’s just a question of how to accomplish it.

There’s still time to make adjustments to the building proposals. What do you think? Check out the proposal photos and share your opinions in the comments below.


The largest proposed project covers nearly a block at 950 Market, and would include a hotel, over 300 residential units and a center “arts bar” for cultural organizations.


The complex at 950 Market would take up nearly the entire block between Market, Turk and Taylor Streets. This shows an aerial view of the block. The Warfield building is at the lower left corner.


This photo shows the west-facing perspective on Turk at 950 Market Street. The “arts bar” is framed by a moveable metal curtain.


This perspective of the proposed complex at 950 Market faces west, with the “arts bar” behind the prow-like residential building that faces east.


This shows the 14-story residential tower proposed for 1066 Market.


Another view of the residential tower to be built at 1066 Market.


The 13-story project at 1028 Market is slotted to have ground-floor retail beneath housing.


The base of 1028 Market’s complex will include tile and metal detailing. The upper floors will be glass


A development proposed for 1125 Market (currently an empty lot).


A residential building, 8 stories, is in the planning stages for 1075 Market


A 9-story hotel is proposed for 1055 Market Street. It is still in the early design-review stages.


The Strand Theater at 1127 Market, which was built in 1917 but closed in 2003 after being used for ten years as a porn theater, will reopen next year as a venue for the American Conservatory Theater. It will include a 285-seat theater and a 120-seat “event and performance” space.


1019 Market, a Market street building that will soon be neighbored by the new projects.


The new office of Zendesk at 1019 Market adds additional space for 460 employees, with 250 already occupying the 7-story building.


King commends the appropriate amount of style on this 7-story loft structure at 973 Market with intricate tile work that covers the façade.