SalesForce Art on the San Francisco Skyline

The company's new, sustainably built tower will become America's tallest building west of Chicago.
9 August, 2017
The sky has always been the limit for SalesForce, a global leader in customer relationship management (CRM) solutions and cloud computing.
Now, SalesForce is pushing into those clouds in the skies above San Francisco, with a 328-meter tower that's the tallest in the city—and due to open in October.

What's really expected to be a skyline surprise is the artwork displayed each night on a nine-story electronic sculpture at the top. Six cameras will be placed around the city and record the drama of daily routines in the parks, streetscapes and Pacific Ocean surf. At night, a montage of each digital day will play back on a six-story high "canvas" set above three stories that serve as a foundation of colored light.
There are 11,000 LED lights incorporated into the project, according to artist Jim Campbell, an MIT-trained electrical engineer who worked in the tech industry before becoming a full-time artist. The lights are shielded in perforated aluminium casings meant to create a softer, more natural flow to the images. Campbell says that's to avoid the harsh glare of direct image screens like in New York's Times Square.

The lights will be on the outside of the sheeting and face toward the building, so that the viewer sees texture as the LED colors reflect off of the aluminum, adding to the effect of the continuous motion.

"It will be a diary of the day that you will only see at night," Campbell said during his initial pitch for city approval. "You can't get close to it. You only see it from far away. That's rare for an artwork." How far away? Up to 32 kilometers, depending on where you are in the California city's hilly terrain.
Image: Reddit
One place you can't see it, though, will be on the floors of office space directly beneath the building's aluminium crown. With a price tag of USD$1.1 billion, the 61-story obelisk designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects boasts 130,064 square meters of office space with 4-meter high ceilings and glass walls that stand 3 meters high. They work together to create workspaces bathed in natural light and open to sweeping views of the city and the sea, in a project explicitly meant to change the iconic city skyline.

The high-performance glass used in the Salesforce Tower will help to reduce the building's cooling load, while each floor of the tower has integrated metal sunshades, calibrated to maximize light and views while reducing solar gain. Other sustainability features include fresh-air intakes on every floor, keeping the building healthy as well as providing natural cooling rather than relying entirely on mechanical systems. The system is so unique, the company boasts, that it was literally invented with its own patent.
Image: Wsp
The building and adjacent TransBay Transit Center share water-recycling systems, and are integrated so that public transportation for 11 Bay Area lines are supported by the hub at the base of the building. Both open to a 2.2-hectare public park, with a redwood grove and employee bike stations, showers and lockers at the entranceway. The park also anchors the luxury neighborhood residents come home to.

What will be shared by everyone in San Francisco is – love it or hate it – the tallest building west of Chicago, and perched atop it, a nightly display of SF's busy day that is meant to connect them all.
Banner image: Cushman & Wakefield