Saturday, July 8, 2017

Naming rights and plaza arrangements

The cranes and exterior elevators have come down from the tower, and the trees are arriving; the long-awaited Transbay Transit Center is nearly ready!

Only, it's not actually going to be called the Transbay Transit Center.

Salesforce buys naming rights to Transbay Transit Center

Salesforce, a software company with its headquarters and 6,600 employees in the Bay Area, has agreed to a 25-year, $110 million sponsorship of the 2½-block-long facility set to open next spring at Fremont and Mission streets. The deal includes naming rights, which means that the complex would be known as the Salesforce Transit Center.

Similarly, the 5.4-acre rooftop open space will become Salesforce Park if the board of the Transbay Joint Powers Authority approves the contract Thursday at its monthly meeting.

The cloud-like Salesforce logo that adorns two towers near the transit center would not appear on the exterior of the new facility, however. Nor would Salesforce have veto authority on events held in the park, even those of rival corporations.

Mostly, I'm excited about the park, which (I hope) will be a delightful new space, to rival such world-renowed places as the High Line, or the Greenway ("a long lawn on top of a sewer").

Meanwhile, down at ground level, change is afoot there, too: Salesforce Tower redesign trims trees, sculpture out of plaza

As Salesforce Tower nears completion, the plaza that will accompany it has been shorn of two eye-catching features: a grove of redwood trees and a 40-foot-tall sculpture made from chunks of recycled concrete.

Instead, the half-acre space at Mission and Fremont streets will be handsomely paved but almost entirely open — a change instigated by Salesforce but agreed to by public officials. They welcome the idea of an uncluttered path to the new Transbay Transit Center, which should open next spring on the plaza’s south edge.

“In retrospect, 20 redwood trees are probably not the best thing to have” between Mission Street and what will be the transit center’s main entrance, said John Rahaim, San Francisco’s planning director. “This leaves a clear passage and sight lines at both ends.”

I'm trying to get my head around the gondola: what the heck?

But surely, this is progress. There was no way that 20 redwood trees were going to be feasible in that small space at the base of the tower. Open space, even though it's largely concrete open space atop a 5-level underground garage, is still open space.

Really, it's still very hard to imagine what it's all going to be like, but it has, I think, the potential to be tremendous. Yes, it's a lot of steel and glass and high-rises and urban canyons, but I'm keeping my fingers crossed. Being out and around on these streets during the day, the energy and activity is undeniable; hopefully that energy translates into a truly vibrant new downtown core.

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