Skylines are what identify cities on the horizon. Most often they are composed by an assemblage of hi-rises, that pull the eye and are recognizable in the urban fabric of a city as a point of pride. Tall and slender, these structures offer the opportunity to soar, literally “in the clouds,” and when they are designed at their best, they create an emotional presence.

Rethinking The Future Awards 2021
Third Award |  Office Building (Concept)

Project Name: Cloudscape
Studio Name: Form4 Architecture
Design Team: John Marx, Chief Artistic Officer
Area:   1.3 million square feet
47 Stories (+3 basement)
750-foot tall

Year: 2019
Location: San Francisco, CA
Consultants: None
Photography Credits: San Francisco, CA

Cloudscape By Form4 Architecture - Sheet1
©San Francisco, CA

They give an urban skyline its character, and in a sense, they form a cultural symbol of a city—of what it aspires to be and where it sees the future.

Cloudscape By Form4 Architecture - Sheet2
©San Francisco, CA

Cloudscape takes the abstracted form of cumulus clouds as its symbolic reference. This has two origins, the first is a reference to the natural world, to the fog and mists that permeate the city of San Francisco. The second inspiration comes from the cloud computing technology that is fueling unprecedented global change and in San Francisco has created an impact that rivals the Gold Rush of 1849.

Cloudscape By Form4 Architecture - Sheet3
©San Francisco, CA

The design for this 1,300,000 square-foot building follows a classic base, middle, and top parti. The base is a study in humane scale. The long western street frontage is bisected by a forty-foot wide passage thru the building and is paired with an iconic lobby taking the form of a sixty-foot sphere emerging from the ground and making its way towards the sky. We celebrate the space between this project and its neighbor with a broad paseo that follows a grand arc, connecting a new south mid-block alley to an eastern midblock alley. This network of spaces is activated by incorporating indoor and outdoor retail, pedestrian-oriented service, and dining spaces into the public realm.

The middle section of this 47-story tower is an elegant shaft with a distinctly vertical articulation, this accentuates a feeling of ascension, of clouds forming and rising to the sky. This  starts with the lobby sphere, and as you make your way up, the shaft is interrupted by two shapes, the first is a sphere protruding, and a bit further up is the reverse, a sixty-foot diameter void, with a razor-thin circular platform extending out, creating a viewing deck and mid-level aspirational space.

Cloudscape By Form4 Architecture - Sheet4
©San Francisco, CA

On an urban scale, the emotional intent for the  building’s crown is expressed by a mysterious and tumultuous form, part technological wonder, part natural allusion. The top eight stories are ethereal, like a vapor.  A harmonic arrangement of thirty glass spheres, of varying diameters, form the basis for this metaphor.  Within this composition of soaring bubbles are vast sky gardens, public and private spaces, including cafes, exhibition rooms, and meeting and work areas.

Here, your horizon is raised to match your aspiration to leave a meaningful imprint in a world you want to change for the better. It is in Cloudscape that you find a spot from where to dream bigger dreams, acquire perspective, organize your thoughts, protected from the elements, while in the midst of nature…. ready to make a creative mark in the sky.