Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat
 CTBUH San Francisco Holds Inaugural Event
SOMA in the 21st Century: Densifying the Neighborhood
May 14, 2013


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Read the San Francisco Chronicle coverage of the event
SAN FRANCISCO - The new San Francisco chapter of the Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH) held its first public event on May 14 at Gensler headquarters, drawing more than 100 guests to a panel discussion on the future of the burgeoning South of Market Area (SOMA). Hot on the heels of a similar inaugural event hosted by the new CTBUH Canada Chapter in Toronto last month, the San Francisco Chapter is further evidence of the Council’s increasing outreach at the local level.
Members of the panel and City Representatives gather for a photo (l to r): John Rahaim, City of San Francisco; Jim Quiter, Arup; Peter Weingarten, Gensler; and Peter Back, Boston Properties
Moderated by John Rahaim, Director of Planning for the City of San Francisco, the panel comprised a range of experts in the local neighborhood, which is seeing a burst of tall building development, to be crowned by the Transbay Tower transit station and mixed-used development in 2017.

Panelists included:
•    Alexa Arena, Forest City
•    Randy Howder, Gensler
•    Chris Heimburger, Kilroy Realty
•    Peter Back, Boston Properties

“The event was a big success,” said Jim Quiter, CTBUH San Francisco City Co-Representative and Fire Protection Engineering leader at Arup, “It brought together a good cross-section of people who will live and work in SOMA, and who have an interest in making tall buildings a successful part of the equation.”

The panel drew the attention of the press, resulting in a San Francisco Chronicle article.
John Rahaim discusses with delegates after the panel
Delegates socialize after the panel

Rahaim set the stage for a lively discussion with the question,
“Why densification? Why now? The US population will grow by 50 million in 2040; the Bay Area will grow by 1.5 million. San Francisco is the second-densest city in the US after New York. There’s a need for additional space, and we need to grow in the most rational way.”

The panel noted a dominant trend in San Francisco, which will come to shape SOMA for the coming decades: People are increasingly drawn to urban neighborhoods that integrate the fabric of the city into new building strategies, and that capitalize on the indoor / outdoor experience. New commercial tenants and owners will play an important role in shaping these neighborhoods, both with their culture and their chosen approach to architecture.

At the event, Peter Weingarten, CTBUH San Francisco City Co-Representative and principal at Gensler, announced that the next CTBUH San Francisco event will take place in the fall, and will be a discussion around “livability and workability.”

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