Ghirardelli Square To Be Converted to Fractional Hotel

By Anuradha Kher, Online News EditorSan Francisco–Architecture and planning firm Hornberger + Worstell will celebrate the opening of the 53-unit Fairmont Heritage Place at Ghirardelli Square in San Francisco in June 2008. The Fairmont Heritage is a landmark adaptive re-use project involving the conversion of the Chocolate, Cocoa, and Mustard Buildings, as well as portions of the Clock Tower and Woolen Buildings, into a fractional ownership hotel. Ghirardelli Square had already been converted for different uses more than once. The most significant conversion took place in the early 1960s when William Wurster, the well-known local architect, adapted the fully operational factory into a public commercial space. While his design of a European-style plaza framed by retail spaces drew crowds for many years, the retail tenants located on the upper levels were easy to overlook and therefore converted into office space in the 1980s.The newly renovated residences at Ghirardelli cost between $350,000 and $450,000 for 10th share ownership. The shared owners can stay in their own unit or reserve another unit. “In designing this building, the biggest challenge was that we were dealing with a national historic landmark so we had to build it according to certain standards,” Mark Hornberger, principal architect for the Ghirardelli project tells MHN.“Whatever we did on this building was irreversible, so we had to be very careful. The building had to be strengthened without causing any damage to the brick walls. We had to gut the interiors and replant everything for residential use,” he says.The Fairmont Heritage Place is designed for people who don’t live in San Francisco but want to visit the city for a few days or for a few weeks, says Hornberger. “Most of the buyers are 40 to 60 years old, are relatively well-off and own a primary home already.”Project designer, Paul Adamson says, “It was incredible to witness the clearing out of the insides of these buildings back to their raw industrial state, and to imagine what it was like when the factory was still there – floors thick enough to hold heavy machinery, or possibly wagons. We tried to harness this industrial feeling through an open planning strategy, revealing original materials, and taking advantage of the high ceiling height.”