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Rogers flies the flag for Britain in San Francisco tower contest

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Rogers Stirk Harbour & Partners is the sole British practice battling it out in the competition to design the tallest building on America's west coast.

The London-based firm is taking on heavyweights in the shape of SOM and Cesar Pelli and Associates to create a skyscraper in San Francisco that will also provide the city with a new train terminal to become 'the regional equivalent of New York's Grand Central Station'.

The competition was launched by the Transbay Joint Powers Authority, which was set up by the US government to build a new transit terminal in San Francisco.

It is understood that the authority will sell or lease the selected tower in order to help finance the construction of the new station, expected to cost around $983 million (£491 million).

All three of the proposals would dramatically alter the city's skyline, as each of the designs range in height from 365-420m, although it is thought the winning design would be significantly smaller.

Rogers' scheme includes a giant wind turbine, framed by portions of the tower's structure that extend past the roof.

SOM's entry, backed by developer the Rockefeller Group, proposes a twisting tower that includes a publicly accessible rooftop, with the first floor lifted 30m above the street.

Pelli came up with a tapered, obelisk-shaped skyscraper with a transit station that would be topped by an open-air rooftop garden extending more than two city blocks.

The winning team is expected to be chosen by mid-September, with the new station completed by 2014.

by Richard Vaughan

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