As the Chron's architecture guy tells us this week, plans are shifting for the prominent development site at the corner of Market and Van Ness Streets, where we earlier heard we might be getting a Richard Meier-designed tower with a diaphanous white glass skin. It turns out the developer behind that proposal has sold the property to someone else, and plans have now shifted to building something more "pragmatic," but "with artistic and civic creativity." They've hired white-hot Norwegian architecture firm Snøhetta, who are also working on two other big S.F. projects right now: the Warriors Arena, and the under-construction expansion of SFMOMA.

As the Chron's John King tells it, the selection of Snøhetta likely has to do with the other demands of the future property, which will include a potential plaza at Oak Street and a reconfiguration of the Van Ness Muni stop.

The firm is best known for buildings like the waterfront opera house in Oslo, but it has a cadre of landscape architects with a project list that includes the ongoing makeover of New York’s Times Square. Snøhetta also heads one of the five design teams in the ideas competition for 13 acres of the Presidio between Crissy Field and the parade grounds of the Army post-turned-national park.

“We want to combine an iconic high-rise with really intimate place-making,” [says Michael Yarne of Build Inc., one of the new developers]. “This should be a great public space with a tower flowing up from it.”

Renderings for the new Snøhetta-designed tower may appear by late this year. It will be a 400-foot (approximately 40-story) tower containing 300 condominiums over street-level retail, and it will be the firm's first U.S. high-rise.