A residential tower reinvigorates an overlooked area of the city and expands the possibilities of urban living.
Despite its transit-rich history, San Francisco’s Market Street Hub had become a place people hurried through on their way somewhere else. As the City has focused revitalization efforts here, the challenge has become not only to provide housing, but also to engage the street level to build a lasting sense of place that invites participation in urban life.
Chorus expands the possibilities of urban living by incorporating a neighborhood cultural institution, theatre and public plaza. Multistudio, Align Real Estate, and Turner Construction collaborated to design and construct a residential tower and podium structure that considers the larger city, integrating space for City Ballet San Francisco to remain on the site and expanding the neighborhood’s cultural offerings with Chorus Hall, a new 224-seat theater. We maximized connections between the public lobby bar, theater and new public plaza designed by renowned Mexican architect Frida Escobedo with Fletcher Studio, to create an activated pedestrian realm. The design supports the city’s vision for a new pedestrian-friendly Hub, and allows a long-time cultural institution to continue contributing to the vibrancy of the greater Mid-Market/Civic Center performing arts district.
Rebuilding The Hub
Chorus is the second of six residential towers planned in The Hub, adding more than 400 units of housing in this transit-rich area. The site’s challenges included two different zoning designations, an odd alley, and a severe grade change from one end to the other. Entitlement requirements, always exacting in San Francisco, added to the complexity of the design process.
Activating the ground floor
With ground-floor retail struggling in recent years, the opportunity to house a busy cultural institution in what would have been a collection of retail spaces solved many issues. The adjoining theater provides performance space for the ballet, but also for other users, expanding the artistic possibilities within The Hub. Through other non-traditional retail spaces, including a coffee kiosk, and the public lobby bar, the ground floor of Chorus serves residents, the ballet school, and the public in a creative new way.
We judiciously and creatively worked with zoning and planning exceptions to expand the amenity space in the building, fitting in a rooftop pool, gym and outdoor fitness, rooftop solarium, coworking space, bicycle workshop and dog run. The wide variety of amenities are woven throughout the building, becoming a vertical neighborhood to foster community.
Designed as a rooftop solarium lounge and patio, the Belvedere Room provides a large gathering space for casual socializing or organized events amidst a backdrop of impressive city views.
The roof of the podium structure is dedicated to fitness, inclusive of both indoor and outdoor options. Expansive views of the city provide an urban backdrop while working out. This distinctive set of amenities—particularly the unique, Ninja Warrior-style outdoor fitness environment—have become a point of differentiation for the building among other recently-built residential towers, illustrating the creativity that often results from challenging constraints.
Inviting the public
The plaza strengthens this multi-audience approach, connecting and responding to the building with a series of rounded shapes that curve towards the lobby and provide seating, walls, an amphitheater, and a water feature. This welcoming space can be used by theater patrons at intermission, by lobby bar customers, or by the public wanting to either relax or engage in civic life. It can even support outdoor dance performances. In an area with few public spaces, it is an especially welcome addition to the urban fabric.
A contextual composition
The podium structure and tower were designed to be compositionally harmonious, inspired by the multiculturalism and diversity that enrich city life. The nine-story podium continues the scale of adjacent buildings around the site, with active spaces inhabiting all major street frontages. The 26-story tower anchors the corner with the new urban plaza, together engaging one of the largest intersections in the city and creating an exciting new public space in the heart of The Hub. The glass tower and glass fiber reinforced concrete (GFRC) podium materials help distinguish between vertical and horizontal elements and also mediate between the traditionally lower-scale buildings of the neighborhood and the larger towers either built or planned. The materials break down scale and read differently at a distance and close up, giving passersby different contextual views as their proximity to the building changes.
Sustainable strategies for wellness
Chorus is designed to be LEED Gold and is pursuing certification. Sustainable strategies include a water purification facility housed in the basement that returns gray water to be used in urinals, WCs, and the water-efficient landscape irrigation. The façade design disrupts wind wash with pulled-in corners and concrete plates that double as sun shading, so that no new wind is created at the street level. Each unit features operable windows for natural ventilation, and the outdoor amenities promote healthy lifestyles and encourage safe social interactions post-pandemic.
A transit‑oriented, zero‑commute facility
Adding co-working facilities contributes to a zero-commute facility, and the building’s location encourages public transit usage.
A new urban place
Testament to the project’s attention to the urban context, it received Planning Commission approval on its first try. The unconventional approach to a residential tower, with its porous ground floor, public plaza and major cultural institution enlivening daily activity, provides lasting value to both the client and the neighborhood. This distinctive new urban place illustrates what can happen when a building is designed with the city as its client.
San Francisco, CA
467,000 sq.ft. | 26‑story tower with podium
Align Real Estate
Parisa O' Connell
Derek Porter Studio
Auerbach Pollock Friedlander