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One Rincon Hill Engineering Sustainable Living

How can San Francisco’s tallest residential high-rise also be one its most efficient? That’s what developers Urban West wanted to know when they approached CB Engineers to execute the MEP design for One Rincon Hill.

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An ambitious residential condominium development, One Rincon Hill comprises a 60-story tower, a 44-story tower, and a 5-story podium. The project’s 700 residences include townhomes and one-, two-, and three-bedroom units. It’s outfitted with all the comforts that distinguish high-end living in the Bay Area, from a heated outdoor pool to a designer spa–fitness center to locally-planted rooftop gardens.

CB Engineers worked alongside several teams—including architects Solomon Cordwell Buenz, structural engineers Magnusson Klemencic Associates, and contractors Bovis Lend Lease—to integrate the MEP design into the master plan. The central challenge here was that we came on well after construction had begun. We facilitated the entire building’s engineering on a compressed timeline. We were able to slide seamlessly into the construction and energizing schedules, meeting both the project requirements and the tight deadlines for commissioning and occupancy.

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When it came to efficiency, the real engineering showstopper was an innovative heating and cooling system that dramatically improves the structure’s energy performance. CB Engineers designed and manufactured a novel hybrid water-source heat pump (WSHP). The system improves upon the standard WSHP by using an additional coil to heat the supply air stream. The system is able to shut off the compressor while it’s heating, yielding greater overall efficiency in air transfer and a quieter ambient experience.

CB Engineers developed a composite trench design, incorporating all dry utilities—telephone, electric, gas, and CATV—into a unified site plan with local utility connections, saving costs and time during installation.

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The final result is a residential complex that consumes 40% less water and 12% less energy than its comparable peers. It represents a bold new step for sustainable development in San Francisco, but also for performance-based engineering. And we did it all in a fraction of the time it might have taken our competitors.

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Project Details

Project Type: Residential

Size: 368 units

Location: San Francisco, California, US

Developer: Urban West Associates

Architect: Solomon Cordwell Buenz

Contractor: Swinerton

Completion Date: 2008

Distinctions: Best Tall Buildings, The Council on Tall Buildings and Urban Habitat (CTBUH), 2008 | Award of Merit: Multi-Family Residential, Engineering News-Record, 2009