BIG goes to San Fran

BIG has been chosen to design 950-974 Market, a 446,000-square-foot mixed-use development – including residences, retail, arts space and theatres – in the heart of San Francisco’s Mid-Market neighbourhood.

The San Francisco-based real-estate development company Group I is working closely with the city of San Francisco to establish a new mid-Market Arts District and has selected BIG over international design firms OMA and Snøhetta, among others. 950-974 Market is BIG’s first Bay Area project.

“The selection of BIG, as our design partner, demonstrates the level of innovation and creativity we intend to bring to 950-974 Market in both its physical and conceptual forms,” says Joy Ou, president of Group I. “Group I and its team are attempting to answer the question, ‘How do you bridge the gap between real estate development, urban design, technology, arts and nonprofits, and community space in a dense and evolving urban environment?’ 950-974 Market won’t be the only answer, but it is at the heart of the physical and philosophical intersection of these interests and may be one response to this important question.”

The site, which fronts both Market and Turk streets, is an irregularly-shaped triangular piece of land that is currently home to vacant or underused buildings. The project is conceived as a synergy between the hotel, residential and cultural programs. The hotel and residences form two urban peaks interlocking at the ground to form a generous public space at their base – thereby maximizing sunlight in the space and creating a shared lobby which brings all of the site’s users together. Hollow at their core the two urban volumes overlap to create two indoor urban rooms – one for the theatres and one for the hotel guests. The building will have a strong facade and street presence on both Market and Turk to allow multiple points of entry.

Says Ou, “We were particularly impressed by BIG’s playful and innovative approach to the project site. They understand that we’re trying to create a building that’s functional and iconic yet unconventional and alive.”

Says BIG’s Bjarke Ingels, “This is will be our first project on the West Coast and having traveled extensively to the Bay Area since moving to New York I am happy that we now get a chance to help develop such a significant site on Market Street. It is an unusual combination of a prime location with a landmark presence with a great potential for social and urban transformation.”

950-974 Market follows BIG’s extensive experience in playfully integrating public space with commercial programs to maximize the value of the land, economic and community benefits. After BIG opened an office in New York in 2010. Douglas Durst invited Ingels and company to design the West 57th Residences. Like 950-974 Market, West 57th is a mixed-use project that is set to transform the neighbourhood it is set within. Their second North American project is the Beach & Howe Tower in Vancouver for Westbank Development.

“We believe that BIG’s energetic approach, exceptional design talent, and social consciousness will bring international attention to San Francisco’s emerging arts community and the rebirth of Market Street as not just the spine of the city, but its heart and mind, as well,” says Ou. “We are eager to continue to refine the design and engage the community in the process.”

To that end, the project team will be starting the initial stages of public outreach and collaboration in the coming months. A project website – – is now live to offer neighbors and other stakeholders their first glimpse at the project’s philosophy and approach.

BIG – Bjarke Ingels Group is a leading international partnership of architects, designers, builders and thinkers operating within the fields of architecture, urbanism, research and development. BIG is led by eight partners – Bjarke Ingels, Andreas Klok Pedersen, Finn Nørkjær, David Zahle, Jakob Lange, Thomas Christoffersen and Managing Partners, Sheela Maini Søgaard and Kai-Uwe Bergmann – with offices in New York and Copenhagen. In all our actions we try to move the focus from the little details to the BIG picture.  

Group I is a San Francisco-based, full-service real-estate development company devoted to the creation and repositioning of high quality, mixed-income residential and mixed-use properties throughout North America. They have a long track record of owning boutique city buildings in San Francisco, including the historic Warfield Building.

Creative director: Bjarke Ingels; partner-in-charge: Thomas Christoffersen; project designer: Doug Stechschulte; project manager: Brian Rome; project team: Blake Smith, Pauline Lavie, Yi Fu Sun, Wesley Chiang, David Spittler, Terrence Chew and Ho Kyung Lee.