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Let’s Play a Game Called: New SF Housing Development OR Giant Air-Conditioner

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In Alex Mak’s Architecture Series Part 2 (see part 1 here), we explore the popular new guessing game called “Housing Development OR Giant Air-Conditioner?” This is where San Franciscans walk around the city and try to decide if the new structures going up are actual condominiums or simply large industrial air conditioners. Over 10,000 new housing units have already been built in 2014 alone, and some 40,000 more are in the works. Let us begin with the grandest of them all, the pair of Rincon Towers.

june Rincon Smaller

One & Two Rincon!

The Second Rincon Tower is finally finished!  One Rincon is billed as the tallest residential building west of the Mississippi, the “Pinnacle of Luxury Leasing”.  A one bedroom (837 sq ft) on the 50th floor is going for $4,799 a month, so hurry! Send one of your secretaries down there right away to stand in line for you! If the sticker price seems a little steep, that is because one of the towers functions as a giant “weather Beacon”, the top of the tower glows a different color at night to indicate the current weather situation (Sf Chronicle article on the subject here). Look at the two towers at night, can you guess which tower is the weather beacon?


 Answer: Tower One on the right is the actual weather beacon!

The Developers at Rincon Two are also offering a sweet door prize for early adopters, if you buy a two bedroom or larger you get a free model of Tower Two for your new flat.


(Beautiful Woman and Dress Sold Separately)

Walk through the upper-market area of San Francisco and our guessing game really heats up! 8 Octavia is a notable new construct on Market and Octavia streets. It incorporates a throw-back to 1970’s design, notably it uses ‘Louvers’ or long slender metal dividers that run floor to ceiling in each unit.

8Octavia: Guess Condominiums or Russian Roof Top Air-Conditioner??

sf buidlings 8 octavia smaller sf buidlings 8 octavia 2

Answer: 47 new Condominiums!

If you guessed this was a Russian roof top air-conditioning unit you were wrong. It is rumored that local design firm Stanley Saitowitz | Natoma Architects were inspired by the classic ‘kitten stuck in an air vent’ concept which was made popular in the era when LSD forced many to hide in air conditioning ducts.

kitten in air vent

 Kitten was not harmed during this reenactment

8 octavia view

Actual View From a Unit in 8 Octavia…Or is it a view from inside an air vent…you be the judge

If you would like to keep playing this game with new San Francisco housing developments here is a list of great options in the upper market area put together by

I would also like to thank local writer Scott James for his article about the new developments in our area, I am also shaking my fist:

For 2014 statistics on SF housing Prices see Rent Jungle

 Part 3 of the Alex Mak Architecture series will be on the History of Architectural Design in San Francisco.

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Alex Mak - Managing Editor

Alex Mak - Managing Editor

I'm the managing editor and co-owner of this little expiriment. I enjoy covering Bay Area News as well as writing about Arts, Culture & Nightlife.

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