As promised, I now have fancy renderings of Encinal Tower to share with you guys, courtesy of the nice people over at SOM.
Colin suggested that a spaceship launching pad would be an equally appropriate use for the space, and to that I just have to say…huh? The difference is that nobody has any use for a spaceship launching pad, while lots and lots of people have use for high-end office space.
Regardless of the current market, we need to look to the future, and in the future people will need space. That’s a fact. Businesses have offices, and they can either put those offices in a transit hub like downtown Oakland, or they can put them out in Walnut Creek or sprawling low-rise office complexes in like, Richmond or something. If we don’t provide space for them, then they’re definitely not going to be coming here.
Downtown Oakland’s Class A office space vacancy rate is current 8.5%, which is at the low end of what’s considered healthy. (Vacancy rates dipping too low is bad for the market, because it means that companies who want to move here or move around can’t.) 8.5%, including a completely empty brand-new building, is downright shocking (and it’s worth noting that this is lower than downtown SF’s class A vacancy rate). The fact that we’re maintaining such as low vacancy rate at the same time as rents have been steadily climbing (average asking rate of $2.80/sf currently compared to $2.35/sf less than 2 years ago!) is further evidence of a strong market.
And repeated comparisons to Hoboken, a town of 40,000 people, just makes no sense to me, considering we’re closer to 420,000.
As for the issue of aesthetics – I’m particularly enamored of the spiral’s steps with the roof terraces. I’m not always a fan of SOM designs – I cannot even begin to say how hideous (not to mention vulgar) I find the new Cathedral, for example, and I thought their transbay terminal entry was super lame. But I think they did a great job with this one. I think it’s a really creative way to make use of a very oddly shaped lot. People are welcome to condemn my taste. (For reference, this is my all time favorite building, which is, BTW, oodles taller than anything we have or will ever have in Oakland, and not near anything else tall at all.)
When people talk about “dwarfing” nearby buildings – well, maybe it’s because of where I’m from, but I just don’t get it. The Houston suburb I come from has a taller building than any building in Oakland, and it’s next to our two-story shopping mall and a bunch of one story detached restaurants. Nobody complains, they like the variation. Besides, nobody’s asking to building the tallest building in Oakland in Glenview. This is downtown! It’s where tall buildings belong.
I do think I might like the building more if it were different colors. Maybe if they made the glass like, pale pink, and then all the metal wrapping around it a rich chocolate brown.