New San Francisco Federal Building: A Model Building for Sustainable Design

The building’s innovative design has been lauded by the Federal government, industry leaders, local government, non-governmental organizations, professional organizations, and academics nationwide as being a model for sustainable buildings.

Photo Credit: Ronald Halbe

The new San Francisco Federal Building at 90 Seventh Street, San Francisco, CA, is an example of best practices in real property management and how, through the use of sustainable design and execution by a dedicated project team, the General Services Administration’s (GSA) Pacific Rim Region is leading the way in developing healthy, high performance work environments.

Constructed at a cost of $144 million and comprising approximately 650,000 gross square feet, this 18 story edifice redefines what an office building can be, in terms of:

  • reaching out to the neighboring community
  • reducing its ecological footprint through sustainable design features and performance
  • setting forth a new paradigm for a more creative, productive and healthy workplace

The leadership and vision of GSA’s project team, coupled with the creativity and innovation of the Pritzker-winning design team of Morphosis, produced a unique structure that capitalizes on San Francisco’s temperate climate, relying heavily on natural ventilation and lighting for much of its cooling and lighting needs, thereby dramatically reducing energy consumption and cost while providing a healthy environment for the building’s more than 1,500 workers. The 18 story tower and four story annex face a 35,000 square foot public plaza, which offers a welcome open space for the public as well as building tenants. In addition to the plaza, the facility includes a cafe, child-care center and conference center that are available for public use.

Photo Credit: Tim Griffith/Esto

The San Francisco Federal Building has transformed the skyline of the Civic Center area of the city with its beautiful scrim-covered tower, visible from the freeway (Interstate 80) to the south. The tower stands out, dotted with unique architectural features such as the (outdoor) rectangular “sky garden”, banded at night by James Turrell’s neon light show (light installation), and four square skip-stop elevator lobbies, that appear to look out over the “South of Market” (SoMa) area (a neighborhood south of Market Street) like surreal eyes.

It is left to the observer as to which aspect of the building is most important – its impact on the surrounding community and city, its environmental sustainability, or its healthy, ”nurturing” work environment. That the building can mean so much to so many may be its ultimate tribute.

Maria Ciprazo
Project Executive
Public Buildings Service
Pacific Rim Region
U.S. General Services Administration

This is a Federal best practice submitted to the U.S. General Services Administration Office of Real Property Management for competition in the GSA Innovative/Best Practices Achievement Award.