San Francisco, California

Program: A 12-story, 332,000-square-foot speculative office building set into San Bruno Mountain alongside the highway. The project includes a performing arts center and space for a health club and retail on the ground floor, a childcare center and outdoor play area on the second level, and a 1,000-car garage. The structure was designed as part of a pair; the second tower has been delayed due to market conditions.

Design concept and solution: Conceiving Centennial Tower as a sculptural object set into the base of the mountain, the architects wanted the building to both play off the topography and contribute to its rehabilitation. They aimed to make the structure a beacon for travelers heading into south San Francisco while also keeping its bulk in check. The project takes up only 8 of 20 acres on the site, which was damaged during construction of the highway; the remainder is set aside for a conservation plan, which includes a replanting program to restore the mountain's edge. The architects designed a steel tower with a rounded, veil-like curtain wall whose curves echo the shape of the terrain and the arcs of the highway's ramps. (The garage is embedded in the valley behind the tower to help conceal some of the project's mass.) For motorists passing by, the building's shape shifts and its color changes. Differences in light affect the colors of the facade, which vary from silvers to blues to warm hues depending on the time of day. The architects used the largest amount of clear glass on the east side of the building, gradually replacing it with spandrels toward the southern facade. Inside, they used finishes inspired by the tower's surroundings, from limestone walls and floors in the lobby to dark walnut in the elevator lobbies and cabs.

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
1 Front Street
San Francisco, CA 94111

Completion Date: June 2009

Total construction cost: $100 million


Myers Development Company (MDC)

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP
1 Front Street
San Francisco, CA 94111

Personnel in architect's firm who should receive special credit:
Managing Partner: Gene Schnair, FAIA

Design Director: Michael Duncan, AIA

Design Partner: Craig Hartman, FAIA

Technical Director: C. Keith Boswell, AIA

Project Manager: Steven Sobel, AIA

Senior Technical Coordinator: David Frey, AIA, NCARB, LEED® AP

Design Architect: Decker Flynn, R.A.

Design Architect: Alex Tsang

Project Architect: Diwakar Chintala

Architect: Ina Wong

Architect of record
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Interior designer
Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

Associate Director: Tamara Dinsmore, AIA, IIDA, LEED AP

Associate: Chanda Capelli, IIDA, NCIDQ

Associate: Virgil Skipton, AIA, IIDA

Structural Engineers:
Middlebrook & Louie 
Project Lead: Jason Louie, SE

MEP Engineers:
WSP Flack + Kurtz
Project Lead: Reginald Monteyne, PE, LEED AP

Cliff Lowe Associates

WSP Flack + Kurtz. 
Project Lead: Jonathan Plumpton, LEED AP

Charles M. Salter Associates

Civil: Brian Kangas Foulk Engineers (BKF).  Project Lead: Brian Scott, PE

General contractor
Hathaway Dinwiddie Company
Project Lead: Garry O’Reilly and Mike Black

Tim Griffith

Skidmore, Owings & Merrill LLP

CAD system, project management, or other software used: AutoCAD, Version 2008



Exterior cladding
Metal/glass curtain wall:
Custom pressure equalized unitized curtain wall by Benson Industries 
Project Lead: Gary Peters

Sika Sarnifil

Painted with PPG Duranar XL Silver

Viracon VE-2M, Precision Glass Bending (Curved Glass)

Interior finishes
Lobby Walls: Café Fleur Limestone – Bush Hammered

Lobby Floors:
Silver Shadow Vein Cut Limestone – Honed Finish, supplied by VetterStone

Lobby Art:
California Artists Ed Moses and Charles Arnoldi