The new Transbay Transit Center, also known as the “Salesforce Transit Center,” is about to change the face of Downtown San Francisco. With a sky bridge connecting directly to 181 Fremont, this unprecedented transit hub, park, and retail center, dubbed “an entirely new neighborhood” by facility manager Martha Aragon Velez, is a physical extension of the building. Residents of 181 Fremont will be living at the intersection of two of the most important architectural projects San Francisco has seen in years, which means they will experience the expansion of urban possibility in San Francisco as it happens.
“Intersection” is the key word. With Colliers International at the helm of retail and dining plans that will cover 100,000 square feet, function expands into pleasure and unexpected discovery. The recreational shopper drawn to PRI’s innovative lead on the 21st-century shopping experience included in the Transit Center, which will include multiple pop-up retail shops, such as vending machines filled with puffer jackets, artisanal crafts, and fashion trucks, will also have a sense of connection to the greater San Francisco area and the world at large when shopping in the space of the Transit Center. Biederman Redevelopment Ventures was inspired in part by its work at New York City’s Bryant Park, bringing a similar vision to the Center’s rooftop park that will include a multitude of activities and events, making it a cultural center for the neighborhood.
A high-speed train to LA is slated for 2029, making this a hub whose importance will only grow over the years. As civil engineer Mark Zabaneh, who came on board to helm the Transbay Joint Powers Authority after 26 years of working with Caltrans, said, “The Salesforce Center is a model transit-oriented development connecting 11 transit systems in one location.” Eight bus lines are set to connect the East Bay, North Bay, and the Peninsula by the spring of next year, and plans are in the works to bring Caltrain directly to Downtown San Francisco.
A transit hub that is also an architectural attraction is the perfect place from which to build an urban mecca that is constantly in flux, like a microcosm of the city itself, functioning on multiple levels at any given moment. Zabaneh emphasizes, “The point is to have it all in one space.” And if that space can become a major retail center, a dining destination, and an extension of a 5.4-acre rooftop park—as this space is about to become—the richest rewards go to denizens of the neighborhood—and the residents of 181 Fremont in particular. The Salesforce Center’s design meets so many of the needs of San Franciscans, and, on the way, it turns itself into a city within a city that is much more than the sum of its parts.