April 3, 2017

What if Sutro Tower had condos in it?

San Francisco Magazine’s cover features an alluring rendering of the city’s favorite tower

San Francisco Magazine just dropped their urban design issue today. Most notably, the issue’s cover features something downright spectacular or horrifying, depending on your point of view: a rendering of Sutro Tower with a condo-conversion renovation.

Prized as the preferred signifier of San Francisco (not to mention the yin-yang symbol of local tattoos), the publication gave Sutro Tower a what-if makeover that fills the tower with floors of glass condos and POPOS.


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“As he was searching around for inspirations for the cover of our Urban Design issue, our design director Clark Miller lucked across a set of images made by the SF creative agency Transparent House of various local landmarks—Alcatraz, the Transamerica Pyramid, Sutro Tower—reimagined as futuristic housing,” explains San Francisco Magazine editor-in-chief Jon Steinberg. “We just loved the audacity and impossibility of the whole idea. It’s like an urban planner’s darkest fantasy.”

And the idea isn’t that far flung, especially when viewed through the lens of our current housing crisis

 Steinberg adds, “Housing is the one thing that this city needs more than anything else, and we felt like it was an almost political gesture to install homes within our most untouchable edifices…The cover feels to me like a giant middle finger to the impossible, and a suggestion (or maybe a political dare) that we should be willing to do almost anything necessary to keep San Franciscans living in San Francisco.”

The three-pronged TV and radio antenna tower was controversial when it was built in 1973—Herb Caen once wrote, “I keep waiting for it to stalk down the hill and attack the Golden Gate Bridge”—but later turned into an icon for the city, one on par with the Transamerica Pyramid and the aforementioned bridge across the bay.


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