601 J Street
Architect: Pei Cobb Freed & Partners
Client: Vanir Development Company
With construction on a new AECOM-designed arena underway, downtown Sacramento is poised for a comeback. The latest entrant in the race to recapture the city’s business district is a glassy tower developed by Vanir Development Company (which will locate its headquarters there), designed by Pei Cobb Freed & Partners (PCF). The building will consist mostly of offices with two restaurants and a café on the ground floor. Characterized by a bold geometric facade, the building nevertheless remains sensitive to the surrounding urban fabric. “The balance between iconic forms that give skyline presence, and how the building transforms as it comes to the ground to respond to the context, is fundamental to the design,” explained PCF’s Michael Bischoff.
The tower’s north and south facades form parallelograms, canted to respond to traffic flows along the adjacent streets. Because those streets run in opposite directions, the parallelograms lean against one another. The resulting tension is resolved by diagonal folds along the east and west facades.
Engaged with the base of the 26-story building is a metal-panel-clad parking podium, set back in deference to an old bank building to the east. The southwest corner of the tower pays homage to another historic neighbor, the Scientology building across J Street, with a street-level plaza. “Creating a public open space in response to the Scientology building was an important gesture, showing that our building was not trying to diminish it,” said Bischoff.
Of course, no design for Sacramento would be complete without a reference to the new Kings arena, just to the south of Vanir’s site. In the plan, the angled face defining the southwest corner of the tower points toward the center of the arena. “Our goal was to be both deferential to historic buildings and architecturally responsive to the development of the new arena,” said Bischoff.
Work on the tower is expected to begin in 2016, with completion by 2018.