No, the Renovated Bell St. ExxonMobil Building Is Not Gonna Look Like This

When Twitter’s landlord Shorenstein Properties out of San Francisco acquired in January the ExxonMobil Building, it made a fuss about wanting to sync the somewhat standoffish tower at 800 Bell St. with the tunnel system that serves the rest of the Downtown fraternity of skyscrapers and extensively¬†renovate what was, at the time it was completed, the tallest building west of the Mighty Mississip’. The rendering you see at the top from Kirksey Architecture shows one take on just such a renovation — except, says a rep from the firm, it ain’t gonna happen. Apparently, Kirksey wasn’t awarded the bid to get the building ready in 2015 for a new tenant once ExxonMobil packs up and moves north to the¬†under-construction campus among the trees in Spring.

But the rendering comes from an action-packed presentation video that Kirksey put together and posted online less than a week ago — and removed this morning. And it’s too bad: The video opens with a magical installation of the shards of a glass curtain wall atop the shade-providing tiers that now hula-hoop their way up the 45-story building. It’s the kind of thing you’d see were Magneto a general contractor and not a comic-book evildoer. Fortunately, a HAIF user grabbed some stills from the video and posted them, giving us a good idea of what’s not going to be:

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Images: Kirksey via HAIF user Urbannizer

13 Comment

  • Wait a minute. I get that these pictures are from a firm that wasn’t awarded the contract… Does that mean that this building WILL NOT be renovated? Or does this mean, it WILL be just by another company that provided a different concept?

  • It really is beautiful and a nice addition to the somewhat bland (especially at night) skyline.

    But, on the bright side, who DID they award the contract to? Perhaps it’s a firm with even brighter ideas for something fresh.

    Lord knows, we need it.

  • This building will be renovated, just Kirksey will not be designing the improvements.

  • Talk about ruining the beautiful profile created by the sunshades! I can still fondly remember the sleepless nights living at Houston House a couple blocks away in college and hearing a continuous loop of falcon, hawk, and other large bird noises blaring from loud speakers to keep pigeons from roosting on the sunshades :)

  • Not necessarily. It suggests that they may have selected another architect to design the renovation. Interesting to know that they are considering renovating to compete with new construction and not treating it as a historic building. It turns 50 years old this year. Whatever they do, connecting to he tunnel system is a must.

  • Well, it’s lamented that this won’t be reinvented to these renderings, hopefully whomever they do choose will be as creative as this group–I’ve always thought the Exxon Buildings was cool, hopefully they won’t F it up

  • I’m unclear on whether the tunnel connections are a go or a no go. I wonder if a tunnel connection could cause another smallish restaurant cluster near Exxon’s cafeteria since there is pretty much nothing on the south side of the tunnel system.

  • I remember going to the top of the “Humble” building in the 60′s to the “Observation Deck”…it was the tallest building in town back then….Our ears would pop riding to the top. The elevator buttons were those heat sensitive/glow orange type, prior to fire code banning them….I think there was a charge of either 10 or 25 cents to go to the top…..
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  • Connecting to the tunnel system is a must. They are only a block or two away from Wedge tower and it connects so not that bad.

    My personal preference would just be to see the building restored to its mid-century grandeur, with appropriate updates for modern technology.

  • PS. I’m glad this is not the renovation. It’s ugly and just turns the building into another glass box. Why bother? Can’t architects come up with anything new and original or interesting?

  • I know this building looks outdated, but folks it is still a gem. It’s a product of the era it was built. I hope that a renovation will keep that in mind. There are ways to fix a building up without plastering over its past….

  • The building is beautiful just the way it is now. No change needed.

  • A tunnel connection is a non-negotiable for Class A status. Tenants paying those types of rates are not going to settle for a non-tunnel / skywalk building – not when there are likely to be alternatives, as in other new buildings (Hines, etc.).

    Wedge Tower (the most likely tunnel connection point) will have the privilege of charging an “extortion fee” to Shorenstein for access.