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Behold the new SanFrancisco Transit Hub fully loaded with “geek green” tech and LEED bullshit, as befits Internet Narcissism Central. It’s actually officially named the “Salesforce Transit Center” for the company that bought the naming rights (no advertising or PR niche can remain unoccupied!). The 5.5 acre “park” on the roof is a disaster-in-the-making (“green” hocus-pocus), since the trees and the grass must be watered, and sooner or later that water will find its way inside the building. (Herman Goering wanted to do the same thing on top of the Nazi Luftwaffe Ministry in Berlin, but the war prevented it.) Note, too, the park is not really a public space. Access is strictly controlled. The station is poorly connected to other transit stations, especially the Ferry Building on the Embarcadero, a half-mile across town. The interior (below) is the absolutely predicable Galactica theme, a sad reminder of the American Space Age, which is now over.

Thanks to Joel Bartell for the nomination.

About James Howard Kunstler

View all posts by James Howard Kunstler
James Howard Kunstler is the author of many books including (non-fiction) The Geography of Nowhere, The City in Mind: Notes on the Urban Condition, Home from Nowhere, The Long Emergency, and Too Much Magic: Wishful Thinking, Technology and the Fate of the Nation. His novels include World Made By Hand, The Witch of Hebron, Maggie Darling — A Modern Romance, The Halloween Ball, an Embarrassment of Riches, and many others. He has published three novellas with Water Street Press: Manhattan Gothic, A Christmas Orphan, and The Flight of Mehetabel.

18 Responses to “September 2018” Subscribe

  1. psteckler September 3, 2018 at 3:55 pm #

    The original plan was for Caltrain to be extended to the new terminal. The current terminus at 4th and King is good if you’re going to the baseball park, but not so great if you’re going downtown. As it stands, the Caltrain extension won’t be done until the late 2020s. And Amtrak doesn’t yet have a Thruway bus stand at the new terminal.

  2. JCalvertNUK September 3, 2018 at 8:54 pm #

    Looks like it has a nerd-scale slot-car racetrack on the roof. Spin-outs should be interesting.

    That track is just screaming-out to be raced on. And I’m sure it will be – much everyone’s annoyance. (I wonder how quickly a superbike would get round up there?)

  3. bymitch September 3, 2018 at 11:04 pm #

    The street image is clearly a literal reference to cloudcookooland.
    The white billowy form floating above the ground, with the birds heads firmly planted in it, and only the legs visible, to give the game away.
    The architect must have had a problem with the client, or the brief, to inspire such a folly.
    I’d put my money on the brief.
    In the city I live in, we also have a shiny new transportation hub.
    A visual carrot designed to get us on to public transportation, however, we are forced to pass through it, like a can of beans, even if our destination is in the opposite direction.
    The system used to work on a loop, was very efficient, and like most PT, a bit grimy, so they decided to forgo the practicalities and package it up like the ultimate public transport experience, the plane ride / duty free shopping extravaganza.
    To give it a bit of an edge there is a fleeting reference to the famous London Underground and New York Subway by shooting underground to the station for the last few hundred feet, when the rest of the system runs above ground.
    At least this one had the good sense to put the ground on top, instead of burrowing down below the watertable.

  4. olivier September 4, 2018 at 6:27 am #

    James, It rains on buildings. If it is possible to keep the rainwater out of buildings, especially ones with flat roofs, why not the water from watering rooftop gardens?

    • Peter VE September 7, 2018 at 10:28 am #

      The rooftop garden sits on top of the waterproofing membrane. In order to replace the membrane, you need to rip up the entire garden. The cost to replace the membrane will be vastly more than a typical flat roof.

      Also, up until a century ago, flat roofs were used only in dry climates. It was only with the advent of the International Style that flat roofs became used everywhere despite their propensity to leak. The Kaufmanns learned this to their distress: when they complained that water was dripping on the dining table, Wright told them to move the table.

      The excavation for this magnificent folly is blamed by the residents of Millennium Tower next door for accelerating the sinking and tilting of the residential tower, completed in 2009. It recently made the news when the twisting cracked a window on the 36th floor: somewhat concerning when the entire exterior wall is glass….. Shades of the Plywood Palace*, anyone?

      (*”Plywood Palace” – nickname for the John Hancock Tower in Boston when the entire glass facade had to be replaced and the building was temporarily sheathed in plywood.)

  5. AKlein September 7, 2018 at 12:21 pm #

    Now that virtue has been signaled effectively (i.e. lots of money spent on displaying “greenness”) they can now “move on”. Translation, now whole the edifice can quietly disintegrate. Just watch. In a few years the whole idiotic rooftop excrescence will be torn up and the roof mopped over with black asphalt and populated by air conditioning condensers.
    It’ll look just like the top of your local K-mart.

  6. Architectural Observer September 9, 2018 at 10:31 pm #

    “LEED bullshit”… thanks for calling it what it is.

  7. zolaris September 10, 2018 at 2:43 pm #

    The interior shot reminded me a lot of the late ’70s movie “Logan’s Run.” All that’s missing are metallic, laser shooting robots (perhaps to be rolled out later), and 30-year-olds floating toward the electrified ceiling to explode into Sanctuary.

  8. dellafella September 11, 2018 at 10:06 am #

    I think this obsession with covering buildings with plants is actually a psychological projection emerging from the Jungian collective unconscious. Which is to say, on a subconscious level, mankind realizes that, on its current trajectory, all the buildings in the world will, in fact, be covered in plants in the not too distant future — not because we’ve managed to create some kind of urban jungle utopia, but because our species is finally extinct and Mother Nature has begun the long process of regaining what was rightfully hers.

  9. jayrome September 14, 2018 at 4:28 pm #

    Bwaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaa! Cough. . .cough! Gasp! Let me catch my breath, Please!

    Even Kudzu can help this THING!

    And somebody put up the dough to finance this?
    Proves. . .There is no accounting for money buying taste!

  10. My Point of View September 17, 2018 at 1:03 pm #

    The guy who owns SalesForce just bought Time Magazine. Not much good can come of this.

  11. bymitch September 17, 2018 at 4:17 pm #

    The Jungian regression has a kind of natural and peaceful ring to it.
    Unfortunately this lead me to thinking about what about the here and now and Freud’s Medusa sprung to mind.
    Frightening.

  12. pequiste September 22, 2018 at 10:39 am #

    Upon viewing this green and brown mouldy, pre-owned maxi pad, two things occur to me:

    1. Nebuchadnezzar would approve! A tribute from one debauched empire to another’s legendary Hanging Gardens of Babylon while offering honours to Ishtar (well sort of).

    2. Are the homeless and needle-using denizens of the City by the Bay be given specific areas to engage in their non-I.T. enterprises?

  13. San Jose September 26, 2018 at 2:03 pm #

    Well folks, they officially shut down this eyesore last night. Just two weeks after the grand opening. Seems one of the steel support beams cracked, probably all that dirt on top was too much stress.

    This is one of the busiest tourist/convention weeks in San Francisco because of the big Salesforce conference. ( Woo woo, Al Gore is one of the keynote speakers.) So traffic is being re-routed and it is a freaking traffic nightmare.

    Personally, as a devoted gardener, who loves getting her hands dirty, I have a problem with these contrived rooftop gardens.

    This transit center is also taking the blame for making one of the neighboring sky scrapers to sink and tilt. (The Millennium Tower, opened in 2009, a high-end condo unit–where Joe Montana hangs out). Nevertheless, I think it’s because they didn’t connect the tower to bedrock. (Duh, earthquake zone.)

    The “bright side” of this mess is that now San Francisco has another tourist attraction–our very own Pisa. It’s sunk 18 inches and is leaning to the north east. If you walk on Mission street it’s very obvious just looking at the sidewalk that there are problems.

    Jen in San Jose

  14. dantesque September 29, 2018 at 11:12 pm #

    I’m all for transit centers and native plant gardens and even the spacey undulating Penrose Tile “skin” on the outside. I’ve been there and it’s beautiful.

    But oh the fundamental design flaws that skin is hiding. Like where are the damn stairs? Instead of a Grand Central staircase, access is funneled into single occupancy escalators & little elevators controlled by an overpaid security detail. Why? So bums don’t get the idea that they can just waltz up and hang out in the park all day. Welcome to S.F. (Sales.Force).

    Now the old terminal was functional, but smelled like cat pee at the best of times and unsolicited bathroom copulation at the worst. At the new one, the whole vibe is more like a high end nouveau shopping mall in the burbs. Hang out & buy something or get on the bus, Gus. It’s an improvement for sure but what a wasted opportunity.

    Don’t get me started on the cracked beam. Or the $27 million ESTIMATED operating cost for the FIRST YEAR. Jesus F Christ.

  15. GhostOfHam October 8, 2018 at 9:32 am #

    Gotta love how it is jammed up against the adjacent buildings / sarc.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. Rational Urbanism | 4¢ on the $ - October 3, 2018

    […] the Salesforce Transit Center(!) in San Francisco. In August Jim Kunstler gave it his “Eyesore of the Month” award calling it a fitting tribute to Internet Narcissism Central. As if on cue the center […]

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