A Solution to San Francisco’s Bursting Height Restrictions

First — Paris.

In 1973 Paris saw its first skyscraper — Tour Montparnasse — and people hated it, and still hate it to this day. “Sticking out like a sore thumb” seems to be the most common phrase associated with the building. What’s that in French?

Tour Montparnasse — the “Sore Thumb” of Paris
Typical (Beautiful) Parisian 6–10 Story Mixed-Use Housing
Tour Triangle — Poster Child for “Starchitecture” Style of Architecture

Now — San Francisco.

San Francisco is having its “Montparnasse Moment” as we see Sales Force Tower blast up over the skyline of San Francisco. From the Bay the tower doesn’t look too large, but most citizens of SF see the tower from Dolores Park. The building really sticks out like a sore thumb.

SalesForce Tower (from Dolores Park)
Yellow is a 40 ft Height Restriction
A Slew of 500 Foot Buildings Going Up in SF on and Around Market.

Height Restriction Solution — a Formula!

Height restrictions are either too high or too low. How do we get one that is just right?

Any new building can be between 1/2 mean above or below the the average height of surrounding buildings.

How does this work out in practice? Let’s take two examples

San Francisco — 4 Stories | Paris — 11 Stories



Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store


Educator, Founder, Engineer. Interested in Evidence Based Education and Solving BIG Problems.