Design team chosen for new S.F. transit center 

A design firm for the new massive Transbay Transit Center and tower development, which has a been touted as a project that will create the "Grand Central of the West," has been picked by a nine-member expert panel.

The design and development deal for a new terminal that has been unanimously recommended includes a 1,200-foot office tower, a 5.3-acre public park, and a $350 million contribution toward the overall budget of the transit center. It was pitched by the team of Pelli Clark Pelli Architects, based in New Haven, Conn.; and Hines, an international firm with its U.S. headquarters in Houston.

The revamped Transbay Transit Center is expected to unite regional bus lines, BART and subsequently a Caltrain connection, together at First and Mission streets. Transit advocates also hope to eventually bring the state’s first high-speed rail line to the modernized public transportation hub. Three final teams were competing for the project and each design was also required to incorporate a minimum of 3,400 new homes — 35 percent offered at below-market rate. Although the Pelli/Hines proposal suggested that the iconic tower be used only for offices, the team will "analyze residential and/or hotel uses," the jury’s report noted.

The jury’s recommendation will be brought before the Transbay Joint Powers Authority board on Sept. 20, at which time the board will vote on the final proposal. A press release sent out by the authority on Monday highlighted the fact that the Pelli/Hines proposal was favored not only for its "operational, functional, and aesthetic" offerings, but also for its promise to contribute $350 million to the authority. The second-ranked team offered only $145 million.

Representatives for the other two teams told The Examiner that they are not giving up hope that their designs will still be considered when the TJPA board makes the final vote. All three proposals are still on display for the public at the Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, through Sunday.

beslinger@examiner.com

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Bonnie Eslinger

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