Renovation is one of the most sustainable things you can do in architecture and SOM just proved it with their latest project – 680 Folsom in downtown San Francisco. The dark and monolithic 1960s building was reinvented into an airy, glass structure that has just been awarded LEED Platinum. Reusing the strong steel structure, SOM upgraded the building’s seismic capabilities. They also added a high performance glass curtain wall, which engages the pedestrian zone and the rest of the community and creates bright and energy efficient office spaces within.
680 Folsom was originally built in 1964 for the Pacific Telegraph Company. While sturdy and solid, the fortress-like building was out of date and did not comply with seismic standards. Rather than demolish it, SOM took on the challenge to reinvent it. They inserted a new concrete core on a single friction-pendulum base isolation system, which engages all the floors, strengthens the existing steel frame and improves the seismic resiliency. Two new floors were added on to the top of the building and new bump outs on all four sides increase floor space.
At the ground level, an intimidating wall was removed and replaced with an inviting entrance and new landscaping. The exterior was re-clad with a high performance glass curtain wall, which allows daylight to reach deep into the interior and offers most of the interior spaces new views of the city. The building was recently awarded LEED(R) Platinum for the renovation and has achieved a reduction of 54 percent in energy usage and savings of 41 percent in terms of water use. The reuse of much of the building’s structure, including the steel frame, reduces the project’s environmental impact. New pedestrian zones at the street level and an outdoor courtyard on the roof make the building more enjoyable for everyone.