Tallest Residential Building In San Francisco

The vertical race has been well underway in San Francisco for the past decade.

Future rendering of the SF skyline including Oceanwide Center & 500 Howard St.

Future rendering of the SF skyline including Oceanwide Center & 500 Howard St.

Ownership rights to the Most Prominent Building in the Skyline has been a fierce competition in both height and design. The erection of Salesforce Tower took the internet by storm when it topped off at 1,072 feet. Pun intended. Even Benioff had laugh at that one.

Marc Benioff Twitter

The Tallest Residential building in San Francisco, as well as the entire west coast, is 181 Fremont standing at 803 feet. Sitting little brother to Salesforce Tower, 181 Fremont is the only residential building to share direct access to Salesforce Park with the tower.

Jay Paul Company and Heller Manus Architects challenged the status quo of construction in San Francisco with 181. Typically, this city has been marred by challenging topographical and tectonic issues. The rolling hills, landfill valleys and proximity to one of the most prolific fault lines the world-over makes for an extremely difficult development landscape. 

181 Fremont has self titled itself the safest building in the world:

Structural engineers claim the building could withstand an 8.2 magnitude earthquake and allow homeowners to be back inside their homes the very next day, using the residential elevators in the building. Let me repeat that, an 8.2 EARTHQUAKE. The entire city would be in rubble, and homeowners in 181 would be chillin’ in their freestanding tubs watching the world rebuild around them.

181 Fremont penthouse master bath rendering

181 Fremont penthouse master bath rendering

This brings a whole new meaning to looking down from the clouds. The exoskeletal structure is credit for the enormity of its structural capabilities. The exoskeleton serves are a giant shock absorber, with mega-braces with suspension like compression points at each juncture claiming to disperse the vertical and shear forces generated by a seismic event.

181 Fremont under construction

There is nothing un-assuming or cookie cutter about the tallest building in the city. With a total development cost of $665 Million, even the smallest details have been accounted for with masterful taste. For a full building detail, see 181 Fremont | Building Overview.

The tower itself is a mixed use development, with Facebook signing the biggest lease in San Francisco history at the time to occupy the lower 2/3s at $80 per foot, of $35 million in total. Shortly after, Facebook decided to break their own record and lease the entirety of Park Tower (next door at 250 Howard Street).

With 500 Howard, and the potential of Oceanwide Center coming in the near future, San Francisco will have 2 more 600+ foot towers decorating its already colorful skyline.

Downtown San Francisco

Comparatively, an 810 foot tower is actually fairly unimpressive if you begin looking around the country.

432 Park Avenue in New York City recently completed construction, towering at a staggering 1,396 feet into the sky; 92 floors to be exact.

432 Park Avenue, NY

For those that have not seen this 92 story iconic building, these images almost look like renderings. Although, it makes sense that San Francisco’s tallest residential building cannot compare to other towers nationally. The technology required to build into the sky yet still create security with the moving nature of the San Andreas fault is a masterpiece in itself.

Before we move on from Tallest Residential Tower in the World, take a quick look at some of the VIEWS from this 92nd floor penthouse:

Heading south into the Southern Hemisphere, the Tallest Residential Building south of the equator is Eureka Tower, with an 86th floor penthouse listed by yours truly in 2018:


Eureka Tower has been an iconic landmark in the city of Melbourne since its inception, with buyers clamoring to by in the first truly remarkable high rise tower in Southbank, Melbourne. With views over the Yarra River, the city skyline, as well as the Botanical Gardens and Sporting Precinct, this 360 degree view penthouse was a career highlight to try and sell.

Branching further East, Dubai is known for its out-of-this-world tall buildings, owning the rights to #2 through #5 of the world’s tallest residential towers. It’s worth appreciating just what a feat this is, engineering wise.

Princess Tower stands at 1,358 feet, just shy of 432 Park Avenue, but with one stark difference; it lives in a crowded sky.

Worlds Tallest Residential Block

Rightly named the tallest block in the world, this skyline is littered with 1000+ ft buildings.

  • Princess Tower - 1,358 ft

  • 23 Marina - 1,286 ft

  • Elite Residence - 1,250 ft

  • The Marina Torch - 1,142 ft

To put that into perspective for us back on the West Coast of the U.S, that’s the equivalent of adding ~ 300ft to the top of Salesforce tower, then having 4 of them next to each other.. I wonder if the San Francisco Giants calendar could handle that kind of heat.

For San Francisco to even compete with the world’s race for ultimate height supremacy, which it likely won’t, the engineering technology to allow for sway, as well as a sturdy enough connection to bedrock to allow for the sheer pulling forces of sway will need to dramatically increase.

As of right now, the first question asked by most buyers of high rise property in San Francisco is; “Is it drilled to bedrock?”

…Unfortunately, the answer is not unanimously Yes.

To find out which buildings will withstand the test of a shaking earth, ask one of our Building Specialists.