Art History Lab

Towering Marvels: Exploring the Salesforce and Wolf Point Towers

Rising high above the bustling city of San Francisco stands the Salesforce Tower, a towering structure of steel and glass that dominates the skyline. This architectural masterpiece is the second tallest building on the North American West Coast and is the tallest in San Francisco, with a height of 326 meters.

In this article, we will take a detailed look at the Salesforce Tower, including its height, floors, design, and resilience.

Height and Floors of the Salesforce Tower

Standing tall at 326 meters, the Salesforce Tower is the second tallest building on the North American West Coast, trailing only the Wilshire Grand Center in Los Angeles. The Tower has a total of 61 stories, which are divided into several sections.

The first 14 floors of the building serve as a transit center, while the remaining floors above it are used for offices. The rooftop features an outdoor terrace offering panoramic views of San Francisco.

Architectural Design and Construction of the Salesforce Tower

The Salesforce Tower was designed by the renowned Argentine American architect, Csar Pelli. The design was selected through an international competition that invited architects worldwide to submit proposals for the Transbay Terminal area of San Francisco.

The groundbreaking ceremony of the Salesforce Tower took place in 2013, and it was inaugurated in 2018, taking five years to construct. The foundational construction of the tower was speculative, as the Transbay Terminal area was still under development.

However, the construction of the tower created momentum in the area, and soon after, several other high-rise buildings sprung up. The building was named after, which occupies about 90% of the office space in the building, and also happens to be San Francisco’s largest employer.

Exterior Features and Aesthetics

The exterior of the Salesforce Tower is a marvel of modern engineering. The Tower’s defining feature is the steel and glass curtain wall, which covers an area of over a million square feet.

The skeletal steel structure of the building is flexible, which allows it to withstand the strong wind and earthquakes prevalent in the region. The core of the building is made of solid concrete, providing additional support and stiffness.

The aluminum fins of the Tower add to the architectural beauty of the building, while also serving a practical purpose. The fins are placed strategically on the exterior to control the amount of sunlight entering the building, reducing heat intake, and keeping the interior cool.

Pierced sunshades, a series of sun-shading devices, are also present on the exterior to help control the amount of natural light that enters the building.

Resilience and Safety Measures

The Tower’s resilience is essential in a city built on a region with soil instability and prone to earthquakes. The foundation of the building is made up of piles drilled deep into the ground, ensuring stability.

A foundation mat is also present, designed to prevent the soil below the building from settling. Additionally, the Tower’s design and materials make it earthquake-resistant, which is crucial given that San Francisco lies within a region prone to seismic activity.

The Tower’s viewing platform, located on the top floors, is a marvel of modern engineering. The platform provides stunning views of San Francisco Bay and the city’s skyline.

The decorative upper floors feature an array of artwork from local and international artists, signaling their appreciation for a community looking to support local artists.


In conclusion, the Salesforce Tower is an impressive architectural feat and a symbol of modern engineering. The Tower’s height, design, and resilience make it an iconic landmark to the people of San Francisco and visitors alike.

The cutting-edge design and use of durable materials popularizes the concept of sustainable construction. The Tower has become a source of pride to the people of San Francisco and an iconic structure that will be recognized worldwide for years to come.

Reception and Criticisms of the Salesforce Tower

The Salesforce Tower has polarized opinions since its conception. While some people appreciate the architectural design and its polished presence in the San Francisco skyline, others have criticized it for various reasons.

Initial Reception and Architectural Appreciation

The Salesforce Tower’s initial reception was mostly positive, with critics lauding it as an architectural masterpiece. Some people appreciated the massive but subtle design of the tower, which was seen as an attempt to blend in with the neighboring buildings.

The tower’s tapering profile was also highly regarded, giving the building a sense of movement and sophistication. Some also admired the ‘old-school’ design of the building, which was reminiscent of classic and timeless architecture.

Criticisms and Public Opinion

Despite the Salesforce Tower’s positive reception, there has been criticism of the tower since its establishment. Although the tower’s design was widely praised, its impact on the urban fabric of the city has been scrutinized.

Critics argue that the tower is transforming San Francisco into a city unrecognizable from its past. Some people have also criticized the detached attitude of the developers towards the building’s context and its impact on the neighborhood.

Other criticisms of the Salesforce Tower include a lack of boldness and downsizing downtown, which some believe is fragmenting the city skyline, leading to a disjointed cityscape. Critics have also accused the tower of being annoying without attitude, a structure with little character or interest and providing no significant visual impact.

Present-Day Criticisms and Challenges

Lack of Community Benefits and Design Issues

A significant criticism of the Salesforce Tower is its failure to provide meaningful benefits to the community. Critics argued that while the tower is impressive, it does not provide benefits to the people who live and work around it.

The tower’s visibility blocks views that were once available to the public, and its superfluous height is seen as a symbol of excess rather than public service. Critics also argue that the tower’s vacant space has worsened the situation of the homeless population in San Francisco rather than ameliorating it.

Pandemic Impact and Empty Premises

The pandemic is another significant challenge the Salesforce Tower is facing currently. The shift to remote work has led to empty premises, causing difficulties for some businesses and exacerbating critiques that the tower’s existence is superfluous.

Furthermore, before the pandemic, there was already criticism that the tower’s design falls short in providing space that would delight neighborhood walks. The vacant spaces both in and around the tower contribute to making the area uninviting and even dangerous.

Poor and Homeless Access: Unintended Consequences

While its shimmering faade showcases the Tower’s success and power, the Tower’s unintended consequences include the exacerbation of homelessness and poverty and the lack of meaningful access to the tower for these populations. The perception is that the building and its occupants are focused solely on business, with little regard for the human impact.


In conclusion, the Salesforce Tower, with its height, design, and technological advancements, has become a symbol of modern construction. Its impact on the urban fabric of San Francisco is undeniable, but its consequences have been mixed.

While some people appreciate the building’s design, overall functionality and impact on its immediate community is under scrutiny. Critics have called for a more holistic approach to sustainable construction and development, keeping the community at the center of the conversation.

Interesting Facts and Features of the Salesforce Tower

The Salesforce Tower, in addition to its architectural marvel and dominating presence, also has a range of interesting facts and features. Here are some highlights:

Artistic and Community Initiatives

One of the main features of the Salesforce Tower is the Ohana Floor. This floor is open to nonprofits, training groups, and other social organizations free of charge, providing a resource to organizations that might not otherwise have access to such luxuries.

Additionally, the John Campbell artwork adorning the lobby of the tower is a stunning visual feature showcasing local talent. Public tours also showcase the building’s unique community initiatives as well as its technological advancement and design.

These tours give visitors insights into the thought process behind creating the tower and its impact on the San Francisco skyline.

Pop Culture References and Sustainable Design

The Salesforce Tower has been featured in various films, such as Venom and Ant-Man & The Wasp, adding to the building’s staggering aura. In addition to its pop culture references, the tower has several sustainable design elements.

It boasts of 16,000 plants across nine levels, providing significant plant diversity and enhancing occupants’ well-being. Interior design features like the meditation rooms and wellness areas also add to the building’s sustainability.

Wolf Point Tower in Chicagoto Wolf Point Tower

The Wolf Point Tower in Chicago is part of a three-tower construction project, proposed in 2012, which would include office, retail, residential, and hotel space. The construction site of the towers has a rich history, originally owned by the Kennedy family and being historically significant.

The site also sits at the confluence of the three branches of the Chicago River.

Development and Current Status of Wolf Point Tower

The construction of the Wolf Point Tower has had its fair share of criticism and challenges. Some concerns raised included height, traffic congestion, overshading of Chicago landmarks, too much retail space, and inadequate parks.

After a series of adjustments and complications in the development plan, the construction of Wolf Point Tower has since commenced and is expected to be complete by 2022. Despite challenges, the tower, with its combination of retail, residential, hotel, and office space, has immense potential to transform the Chicago Riverfront significantly.

Through its progressive design and range of uses available, the Wolf Point Tower will most certainly create new opportunities and urban vitality to the area.


In conclusion, the Salesforce Tower and Wolf Point Tower are two magnificent towers with their unique features and challenges. The Salesforce Tower is a beacon of sustainable innovation and community awareness, while the Wolf Point Tower is an opportunity for new urban vitality and restoration of a historical site in Chicago.

These towers offer new opportunities for development and community engagement and will undoubtedly be instrumental in transforming their respective urban spaces. In conclusion, the Salesforce Tower in San Francisco and the Wolf Point Tower in Chicago are two iconic structures that have captivated both admiration and criticism.

The Salesforce Tower stands as a symbol of modern architecture, offering unique features such as community initiatives and sustainable design. Meanwhile, the Wolf Point Tower represents a significant opportunity for revitalization and urban vitality in Chicago, despite facing challenges during its development.

These towers remind us of the transformative power of architecture and the importance of considering community benefits and the preservation of historical sites. As cities continue to evolve, these towers serve as reminders of the need for thoughtful and holistic approaches to urban development.

From innovation to preservation, the architectural landscape plays a pivotal role in shaping the cities we live in.

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