retrospective: an online portfolio

High Rise

Structural Cores



Egress Stairs


Core and Floor Slab

Floor Plates

Building Skin


Mechanical Distribution

Conditioning Zones

Public Spaces

Tram Circulation


Summer Solstice, 8am

Summer Solstice, noon

Summer Solstice, 4pm

Winter Solstice, 9am

Winter Solstice, noon

Winter Solstice, 3pm

The High Rise project was a collaborative design completed during the fall of 2010. Thomas Schneider and myself worked with professor Frank Kratky to create a mixed-use landmark for the Transbay neighborhood of San Francisco, CA. This portion of the city sits between the famous Market commercial district and residential areas to the east. The Transbay has seen a great deal of reinvestment following the recent demolition of a highway on-ramp and planning of a multi-billion dollar transportation station and office tower.

The design was very much about re-imagining the way people experience vertical architecture. The building's outermost skin draws visitors upward visually and literally – a circuit of tram cars runs between a station on the ground and stops on certain floors along the building's edge. The spaces around these stops have been enlarged and zoned so as to create 'public' squares: a vertical city.

The building incorporates numerous energy-conscious elements owing to the site's excellent solar exposure. The high rise features a double-skin to better combat temperature swings. The building skin also functions as a collector of radiant solar heat, which is transferred to an internal hydronic system. This system conditions the interior via radiant panels in the ceiling structure (the so-called 'gravity heat') and piping beneath a false-floor.

There was some very good work that went into this project. For instance, the digital model of downtown San Francisco is easily my largest and finest context model. I also feel good about the project's scheme for conditioning the interior by making use of what is effectively a very large radiator/collector on the outer skin. There was also some really enjoyable and exciting work that went into several of the building's spaces, namely a farmer's market and a bathhouse. Unfortunately, much of that work failed to translate into the final presentation materials.

This was a very long and taxing project. I was ultimately disappointed because I felt that our design was better than our presentation suggested. We spent a great deal of time developing and digitally modeling the building's form as well as its context. We spent an even greater amount of time on a physical wire-frame context model – an good idea that was pushed beyond its limit.


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  • For ARCH 471

  • Date Fall 2010

  • Type high rise, San Francisco, Main, Howard, mixed use, Transbay

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