Posts tagged with "san francisco bay area":

Placeholder Alt Text

Richard Mullane on the ‘Collect & Connect’ strategy for San Francisco Bay and coastal resiliency

How do you make waterfront locations resilient to the problems caused by climate change? How can you support communities to manage—and come to terms with—flood risk? As governments and developers reverse their thinking around the land value adjacent to our global rivers and harbors, these challenges are shifting urban design in new and exciting ways. The Rockefeller Foundation sponsored recent resilience-focused work in the San Francisco Bay Area, an area that typifies the challenges faced by many cities and communities around the world, with low-lying shoreline around the Bay isolated by misplaced freeway infrastructure, and communities economically depressed due to decommissioned industries and the loss of jobs. These communities face the dual threats of sea-level rise at the shore-edge and increased stormwater flooding from the uplands, with the additional environmental risk of earthquakes and the liquefaction of historical landfill. The Resilient by Design project asked a team of local, national, and international design experts to search for replicable solutions to make communities more resilient to these dynamic threats, all of which are expected to intensify dramatically, in both the immediate and long-term future. The project involved extensive data analysis of climate change vulnerability, as well as multidisciplinary prototyping of solutions for adapting vulnerable sites and communities, significantly pushing creative thinking in this burgeoning area of landscape architecture and urban design. One of the unanimous observations to come from the project was that traditional engineering protections and hard-edged solutions are not practical in solving these complex challenges—as many San Francisco Bay Area shoreline communities have already witnessed. As an example, embankments designed to offer protection from rising sea levels have resulted in trapping stormwater from the land-side of the Bay, in itself causing flooding, and posing the complex challenge of pumping stormwater out to sea. The main flaw, identified by designers and communities alike, that comes from focusing on hard solutions, is that, by nature, they are fearful and defensive, and designed to function at their best in a worst-case scenario – in the case of the South Bay area this equates to a current probability of once every 200 years. Instead, the Resilient by Design team concluded that the challenges called for the combined creativity, knowledge, and experience of residents and public officials, along with collaborative working between landscape architects and urban designers. This in itself pushed a new wave of thinking into an area of the built environment where engineering has traditionally led the design process, bringing to the fore a social dimension to problem-solving. Before it had become known as the Bay Area’s ‘industrial city’, South San Francisco was the kind of place where people could walk the length of the creek to swim in the bay; a connection to the water that has been lost over the last half-century. A key focus for the project was on re-establishing this connection; making the South Bay waterfront an attractive and accessible part of daily life. Through extensive community engagement, research, and an inclusive design process that involved transforming a disused bank into a community design hub and establishing social media channels to share images and ideas, the design team for the project, Hassell+, mapped out a range of ways to make South City stronger. These included making it easier to reach and enjoy the local creek and bay; reducing the impact of flooding; building resilience to sea-level rise; returning native flora and fauna to the area; and making a healthy, active life near the water easier to imagine and achieve. The team drew on international precedents for waterfront adaptation and urban expansion. In smaller Chinese cities on the Yangtze River, communities construct riverbank pavilions for the dry season, then carefully deconstruct for the wet season each year. In Indonesia there are villages where residents have learned to accept—and adapt to—the fact that floods turn the streets into the canals for part of the year. In my hometown of Newcastle, Australia, our suburban rugby parks are designed as additional capacity for stormwater within the low-lying areas, with big rains bringing stormwater onto the fields from the surrounding streets and canceling the weekend games every few weeks. There’s immense potential for designing for climate change in these examples of nature and culture sharing space, and it was this last example that led the Hassell+ collective to its multi-benefit proposition for waterfront communities around San Francisco Bay. The resulting overarching South City strategy—named Collect & Connect—proposes a resilient, responsive network where creeks and streets could be redesigned as green linear corridors for water management and community gathering, transforming the regional structure from a vulnerable loop into a connected resilient network, enabling better disaster response and water management, but also contributing to greater liveability and connectedness across the community-at-large. Open green inundation areas double up as an early flood warning strategy, giving visible signs to the community that floodwaters are rising. Public open space is planted with local species to support the biodiversity needed to create native landscapes that are more resilient to extreme weather. Spaces for events such as markets and sports support communities to live social, healthy lifestyles. Finally, the project highlights the importance of public open space in allowing communities to gather, organize, and rebuild in times of disaster, becoming centers of shelter, or even temporary hospitals and schools. Other highlights of the Resilient South City proposal include: — A wider, greener creek, to manage flooding and create the right conditions for a sequence of new parks — A South City Circle Bridge, serving as a walking and cycling gateway to all transport modes — An ‘eco waterpark’ at a revamped water plant, to become a teaching tool and natural shoreline swimming pool — A native plant nursery, to help control flooding and treat run-off from the nearby highway — A ‘living levee’, to form a wetland for restoring habitat and hold stormwater in extreme high tides — Schools located on higher ground, to become hubs for water treatment and community recreation Ultimately, the Bay Area Resilient by Design Challenge has served as a call-to-action for the region to continue to work together and move the cause forward. It is hoped that as a project exemplar it will aid and inspire others working on practical master plans to support people and environments in waterside communities through a flexible and dynamic network of public spaces—that recognize the impacts of climate as one of the key ‘users’ of public space. This article appeared in the Spring 2020 issue of Citizen, a new magazine for everybody engaged in shaping the city, published by the London School of Architecture. The issue is available to read for free at

San Francisco Design Week 2019

SAN FRANCISCO DESIGN WEEK kicks off June 20 – 28 at the Design Hub at Pier 27, celebrating with the theme CommUNITY. Join the Opening Night Reception followed by a day of exclusive programming at the Hub. Experience interactive exhibits, product displays, installations and talks, including the 2019 Design Awards and CommUNITY Art Silent Auction. All week hosted events are held across the region at design studios, museums, restaurants, shops and pop-up venues. Highlights include hosted talks and workshops by design leaders such as Yves Behars’ fuseproject, a rare visit to Ken Fulk’s studio and St. Joseph’s Art Society, and Swiss designer Adrien Rovero’s show-stopping art installation.
Placeholder Alt Text

One of California's largest developments wins key legal battle

A judge has ruled that CityPlace, a long-stalled mixed-use development slated for a former municipal landfill site adjacent to the new Levi’s football stadium in Santa Clara, California, can finally head toward construction, despite vocal opposition from the neighboring city of San Jose. The $5.6-billion project is being developed by Related Companies and is designed by RTKL and Elkus Manfredi Architects as a mixed-use transit-oriented development populated with offices, storefronts, housing, and green spaces. However, the project has been caught up in a lawsuit for months over objections from San Jose officials regarding the relatively small amount of housing available in the plans for the development, Mercury News reports. The 240-acre complex is expected to bring 5.4 million square feet of offices, 1.1 million square feet of retail, a 700-key hotel, 250,000 square feet of “food and beverage,” and 190,000 square feet of entertainment uses to the area. The project is also estimated to generate over 25,000 jobs, but will only provide 1,680 residential units to house those potential workers, and the arrangement has San Jose officials worried that their housing-strapped city will be left housing the remaining workforce. As is consistently the case in California due to Proposition 13—a 1970s-era initiative that caps property taxes on homes—smaller municipalities like Santa Clara are disincentivized from producing and approving housing-heavy developments in lieu of more lucrative commercial and office projects. The end result—as is evident across Silicon Valley—is that many projects are designed with little to no housing, an arrangement that, aside from limiting more environmentally-benign mixed-use development, has fueled the state’s ongoing housing crisis. With CityPlace, San Jose city officials are worried the new jobs-heavy development will tax existing schools, streets, and other public infrastructure with new residents, while simultaneously adding to the pool of people who work in the area but cannot find a place live nearby. The Environmental Impact Report for the 9.2 million-square-foot project, however, looked into these concerns and was approved by the Santa Clara City Council in 2016 nonetheless, after completion of a California Environmental Quality Act (CEQA) review by state regulators. The judge’s ruling cited these approvals as reason for the project to continue to move forward. The project is among the largest new developments on the west coast and is among several densification projects slated for the region surrounding San Francisco. If built according to the current timeline, the first phase of the project will begin construction in 2019 and finish around 2022. Later phases would be built over the following five- to 10-years, depending on market conditions.
Placeholder Alt Text

First renderings revealed for SOM's San Francisco 1500 Mission residential tower [UPDATE]

With backing from developers Related California, Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) is moving forward with a new residential tower project at 1500 Mission Street and South Van Ness in the Bay Area of San Francisco. Reaching 39 floors, the tower will hold 560 apartments which will each have an average area of around 730 square feet, replacing the Goodwill Industries currently on site. According to The San Francisco Business Times, 112 of the 560 units are expected to be designated affordable housing spaces available at below the market rates. In an effort to retain the site's heritage, the scheme plans to incorporate the Coca Cola Bottling Plant Clock Tower into its design—a pre-existing feature that was iconic to the site. Also included in the project will be 24,000 square feet of retail and 450,000 square feet of office space of which the clock tower would be integrated into one of the entrances.