The Rockwell is a pair of 13-story residential towers located on the corner of Pine and Franklin in San Francisco's Lower Pacific Heights neighborhood. This multi-family, mixed-use, 440,000 sq. ft. project has 259 residential units, a solarium, 4,000 sq. ft. of ground-floor retail space, and a well-appointed owner's club with a kitchen, media room, fitness center, and enclosed courtyard. Below-grade parking includes automatic car stackers and charging stations for electric vehicles.
Situated in the city's historic Auto Row off Van Ness Avenue, the design weaves the towers into the chiseled façades of two historic buildings. The building's main entrance, solarium, and courtyard are accessed through the portals of these historic façades, evoking a sense of wonder. The restored façades of Rockwell's buildings are reminiscent of the early days of San Francisco's Auto Row and are a great example of how precast concrete can be used to imitate the ornate Classical Revival style cost-effectively.
The intention of the design was always to maximize precast concrete's inherent versatility and cost efficiency. Clark Pacific, the precast concrete producer, successfully achieved the design team's goal of completing the original plan without modifications.
The façade was designed as a playful use of form and color, stretching the capabilities of creating complex geometries with precast concrete. Multi-dimensional exterior punched precast wall panels were pre-glazed in the manufacturer's yard. Clark Pacific produced several unique, unconventional types of architectural precast concrete wall panels for this project including an egg-crate shaped panel, a sloped surface plain panel with a woven look, and a stepped surface plain panel with a jagged look, all with punched window openings and spandrels and column covers with similar shapes. Additional panels include a flat wall panel with an unusual pattern created through multiple vertical recesses of varying widths to achieve a barcode look and an ornate-shaped corner trim panel that creates a boomerang look.
Utilizing pre-glazed, multi-colored, and multi-dimensional precast concrete panels resulted in cost savings that could not be achieved with other building methods.