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Unveiled > SF Public Safety Building
SF's police headquarters ready to move to Mission Bay
courtesy HOK + Mark Cavagnero Associates

As part of an overall plan to deconstruct its aging Hall of Justice, the city of San Francisco is planning to build a new police headquarters in Mission Bay. In June, voters will decide whether to fund the project (rough estimate: upwards of $100 million) along with a slew of emergency service upgrades, packaged together in a city bond measure. “It’s inspiring that in this time of economic certainty, the city is making a concerted effort to have a vision,” said architect Mark Cavagnero.

Joining the recently completed Mission Bay branch library, the building’s broader role will be to bring a sense of civic well-being to an emerging neighborhood, where shiny offices and condo developments are islands surrounded by empty lots. The 280,000-square-foot complex on Third Street and Mission Rock will also include the local police and fire station (hence the umbrella term “Public Safety Building) and a 230-space parking garage for fleet vehicles. The only building currently occupying the lot, the area’s 1930’s brick firehouse, will be incorporated and converted into a community meeting space.

Cavagnero said he plans to develop something that “feels civic and inviting, not bunker-like and heavy,” despite the various security issues. To keep the floorplate relatively thin, the building is being designed as a Z-shaped tower of four floors, which will house the police headquarters, sitting atop a two-story plinth that will contain the local fire and police stations. A large cross-section of the center of the “Z,” which will be partially transparent to both cross-streets, will showcase a monumental interior staircase. The architects also plan to use a lot of glass on the building’s most public face, on Third Street, in order to convey a sense of civic transparency. The team hopes the building will qualify for LEED Gold certification (the city mandates LEED Silver), with performance gains anticipated from an integrated design with structural engineering.

Lydia Lee