Perfect Angle for Treasure Island: 68 Degrees

West

(Rendering courtesy CMG Landscape Architecture.)

Sixty-eight degrees happens to be the best angle for the streets in San Francisco’s Treasure Island project, a utopian vision of green, pedestrian-centric living. The planners have realized that nobody will walk if they’re buffeted by blasts of wind that sweep the island from the southwest, so they came up with a compromise that blocks wind while giving cars enough clearance to turn.

It was just one of the interesting factoids that came up during yesterday’s tour, organized by the AIA SF for their Architecture + the City Festival, going on right now  (still time to catch one of the other tours and get in on the learning and schmoozing!).

The main presenter, Karen Alschuler of Perkins+Will–who was involved with the project from the start, when it was just SMWM rather than the many firms in the mix today–gave a thorough presentation with a new aerial rendering:

(Rendering courtesy SOM.)

She painted a vision of how residents would commute to the city.  “You’ll be drinking your coffee at the kitchen window, and see the ferry leave from San Francisco, which takes about 13 minutes to arrive, and you’ll walk down to catch it.” All homes on the island will be designed so they are a 10 to 15 minute walk to the ferry building.

But the really primo residential real estate will not be on the island itself, but on adjoining Yerba Buena Island. The west-facing half of the island will be redeveloped as part of the Treasure Island project, with a series of townhomes stepping down the hill, with truly amazing views. Anyone like me who has driven around and around Yerba Buena looking for a spot to take in that view and has been thwarted will be glad to hear there’s going to be a new public park right at the top.

That park’s in addition to the 300 acres of open space on Treasure Island itself, which is only 400 acres altogether.  To encourage fewer cars, the neighborhoods are built up densely around the ferry building. The current plan is to have retail and restaurants at the ferry terminal, and the hangar behind will be a farmer’s marketplace (a la the Ferry Building).

Besides Perkins+ Will, the team working on the master plan currently includes:  CMG Landscape ArchitectureSOM (condo tower), BCV (marketplace) and Page & Turnbull (historic restoration). Why so many cooks? The developer, Wilson Meany Sullivan, likes to encourage collaboration–and a little competition–to get the best results.  Just joining the group is Seattle-based Mithun, which is working specifically on the neighborhood areas.

Talking to Gerry Tierney of Perkins+Will, the plan for the 6,000-8,000 residences is to put parcels out to bid by developers, who will work with individual architects, in order to avoid an architectural monoculture.  The design guidelines they are putting together will be “steadfastly modern”–definitely no historical pastiche. Their hopes are for something akin to the jolly Borneo Sporenburg in Amsterdam.

The celebrated canal in Amsterdam. Photo from Flickrs Creative Commons by sporkist.

The celebrated canal in Amsterdam. (Photo from Flickr's Creative Commons by sporkist.)

On this brilliant day, where the city was so bright and clear, the vision seemed so close.

San Francisco skyline behind Building No. 2, the planned marketplace.

San Francisco skyline behind Building No. 2, to be converted into a marketplace.

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