In Search of Sanity
Source: http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/article.cgi?f=/c/a/2011/02/20/BA8I1HNUBT.DTLTreasure Island proposal cuts tower down to size
John King, Chronicle Urban Design Critic
Sunday, February 20, 2011
The ambitious plans for San Francisco's Treasure Island have been inching their way through City Hall for so long, it's hard to believe the final round of hearings has arrived.
And here's a signal the endgame has begun: the tallest tower's potential height is being lowered by 200 feet.
The vision still includes pollution-absorbing wetlands, a working farm, a new ferry terminal and as many as 8,000 housing units - all on 404 acres summoned into existence barely 70 years ago.
But by toning down the skyline of the new neighborhood, proponents are acknowledging something that should have been obvious all along: even a project billed as "an international exemplar of sustainable development" should know its place.
The development proposal for the former Navy base concentrates housing in an L-shaped band along the island's west and south sides, placing most residents within a 10-minute walk of the planned ferry terminal. Another 230 acres would be converted into a variety of parks and semi-natural spaces.
Many of the residential units will be in buildings below 85 feet in height. But the plan adds the vertical flourish of a quartet of towers that would rise near the handful of buildings that remain from the Golden Gate International Exposition, the 1939 event for which Treasure Island was shaped from bay sand and mud alongside Yerba Buena Island.
Until last month, the plan conceived in 2005 placed a 650-foot peak in the midst of a trio of 450-foot towers. Now the central high-rise would be 450 feet, with 315-foot towers on its flanks . . . .