Posted on:

The Little Tower That Could

Shared By

Xululabs, Xululabs

Project Name

The Little Tower That Could

Project Status




View all (3) images

Project Description

Amidst the behemoth office buildings of downtown San Francisco stands 388 Market Street, a small, elegant tower that won a citation in the 1983 P/A Awards program. Designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill, the triangular tower shows how a diversity of functions—commercial, office, and residential—and a density of activity, including a Bay Area Rapid Transit train-station entrance, can enliven the street. That liveliness starts with the two-story retail base that sports subtle details such as chamfered corners at head height that mimic the movement of passersby. Above that base rises the tower, whose form comprises a cylinder and a prism joined together and echoes the circular and angular forms of the surrounding skyscrapers. The tower contains 16 floors of offices, a mechanical floor, and six floors of residential units above that. Although its red-granite cladding makes it recede into the shadows of the adjacent, lighter-color buildings, the tower also has an expressive, three-dimensional face, with projecting windows in the commercial base, flush windows on the office floors, and recessed balconies for the residences.

The P/A jury greatly enjoyed the building. George Baird liked the way that it “mixes functions in an inventive way,” Mark Mack praised its “differentiation on the exterior,” and James Stirling appreciated its willingness to “sit down a bit and not compete for height.” But what makes this tower really stand out is the simple fact that it doesn’t stand out, as if to remind us that bigger isn’t always better and that sometimes, good things can come in small packages.

1983 P/A Awards Jury
George Baird, Intl. Assoc. AIA
Alan Chimacoff, AIA
Stanton Eckstut, FAIA
Sandra Howell
Mark Mack
Marietta Millet
James Stirling
John Woodbridge, FAIA
Add A Project
Publish Your Projects Show off and upload images, text, and video of your work. We pick the very best for our project newsletters. Upload

Join the Discussion

Please read our Content Guidelines before posting

Close X