Dutch architects MVRDV have teamed up with Australian architecture firm Hassell to craft a scheme for Resilient by Design’s Bay Area Challenge competition that focuses on a taking a kit-of-parts approach to create an interconnected network of urban zones and landscapes that can potentially mitigate some of the effects of climate change for the city of South San Francisco. The proposal—dubbed “Connect and Collect”—envisions deploying a taxonomic set of structures developed by the firms in order to create a type of “do-it-yourself urbanism” that would supercede existing development, according to a promotional video issued with the design proposal. Taken together, the structures fulfill the basic functions of urban life at various scales, creating places to gather, receive services, live, and work, while also offering the flexibility to change in use after natural disasters. The proposal divides inhabited areas into two distinct but interwoven zones that are then populated with “collector” sites residents can make use of. So-called “shoreline collectors”—art venues, floating farms, emergency shelters, ferry terminals, and other objects—will dot the water’s edge and its surrounding tidal zones, according to the scheme. These areas are meant to connect with so-called “uphill collectors”—grocery stores, hospitals, emergency castles, car and bike-sharing facilities and the like—further inland via a set of urban-focused streets and nature-focused creeks that change as they drop to meet the water’s edge. The collectors are to be organized in grouped configurations, adjacent to regionally-scaled infrastructural elements like schools and transit. These nodes will then aggregate with one another via multi-modal connections to create a distributed network of soft-edge urban areas that not only function on a day-to-day level, but also adapt to natural disasters and periodic flooding with greater ease than existing development models. Renderings and diagrams for the proposal depict colorful groupings of the collector structures organized in porous, quasi-urban configurations with the spaces in between the collector sites populated by nature trails, bicycle paths, and transit lines. The plan proposes a slew of new public recreational areas to help create these hydrophilic zones, including a new shoreline park at Colma Creek. In a statement announcing the proposal, Nathalie de Vries, MVRDV's co-founder, said, "Climate change is real; by the end of the century there will be a sea level rise of two meters," adding, "Bay Area communities [must] respond to this challenge in a multi-disciplinary approach to upgrade their general resilience." The so-called HASSELL+ team’s proposal is among ten visions articulated for Bay Area communities being developed as part of Resilient by Design’s Bay Area Challenge. Competing groups include teams helmed by BIG, James Corner Field Operations, and Scape, among others. A recently-revealed proposal by BIG and One Architecture+Urbanism proposes a series of floating islands for the south San Francisco Bay. Other members of the HASSELL+ design team include: Deltares, Lotus Water, frog design, Originate, Civic Edge Consulting, Goudappel, and Page & Turnbull architects. The designers will continue to work through this spring and will present their final proposals in May 2018 at the Global Climate Action Summit in San Francisco.
Posts tagged with "San Francisco":
In recent months, legislators in California have begun a concerted effort to use state law to address the state’s ongoing housing crisis. The moves come amid worsening regional inequality that has pushed housing affordability outside the reach of many populations. Facing mounting pressure from a growing cohort of pro-housing YIMBY activists and increasingly grim economic and social impacts—including a sharp increase in the number of rent-burdened households and the number of individuals and families experiencing homelessness—state-level legislators have begun to take action where municipal leaders have thus far stopped short. Late last year, the California State Legislature approved a bundle of housing-focused bills in what amounted to the first key win for state-led housing reform efforts. The legislature passed a total of seven bills aimed at streamlining permitting, enforcing regional housing production benchmarks, and preventing municipalities from down-zoning parcels or rejecting by-right projects. Several of the bills also aimed to stimulate new housing spending for affordable units, including a measure that will allow for a low-income housing–focused $3 billion bond to go onto the November 2018 statewide ballot and a measure that institutes a modest levy on certain real estate transactions in the state in order to raise up to $250 million each year for low income housing construction. The two combined measures could make over $8 billion in new funding available for affordable housing production over the next decade. These bills followed the adoption in late 2016 of a streamlined Accessory Dwelling Unit (ADU) ordinance that legalizes backyard homes across the state while also providing minimum zoning standards for ADUs that homeowners and developers can follow when local rules do not exist. The shift has led to a surge in ADU applications across California’s big and small cities alike, as homeowners move to build new ADUs while also legalizing existing bootlegged units. In a blow to NIMBY activists, the move also essentially doubled the residential density of the state’s single-family zoned lots overnight, with the added benefit that ADUs developed in certain areas—historic districts, ½-mile from transit—could be built without added parking. A recent report from the University of California, Berkeley’s Terner Center for Housing Innovation concluded that “ADUs are poised to play a significant role in alleviating California’s housing crisis and state, regional, and local leaders should continue to examine ways in which barriers to this type of development can be removed.” The report cited an explosion in building permits for ADUs following their legalization, with 1,980 units pending in Los Angeles for 2017 compared with just 90 the year prior. Efforts are currently underway to continue to streamline ADU development at the state level. Hopes of using state law to right California’s housing market were boosted further this year by the introduction of SB 827, a transformative new state law that would, among other things, override local planning code to raise height limits and boost density while abolishing parking requirements for lots located near mass transit. The bill is authored by State Senator Scott Wiener—one of the authors of several of the 2017 housing bills—and has the backing of many of the state’s increasingly influential pro-housing activists. Specifically, for properties located within ¼ mile of a transit corridor or one block from a major transit stop, the bill would disallow height limits lower than 85 feet, except for when a particular parcel fronts a street 45 feet or less in width, in which case the minimum height limit would drop to 55 feet. The bill would also forbid height limits below 55 feet for all areas ½ mile from transit routes. The law, if passed by the legislature and signed by the governor, would also forbid the imposition of minimum parking requirements for parcels within a ½-mile radius of a transit stop or within a ¼-mile radius from a transit corridor. One of the bill’s strengths is that these provisions lump high-performing bus routes in with light and heavy rail infrastructure, making their potential effects across the state quite vast, as many of its major cities have extensive bus networks. Wiener’s bill is seen widely as a potentially earth-shattering piece of legislation that would upend decades’ worth of ever-tightening local control—often at the expense of density and new construction. The abolition of parking minimums in particular would represent a sea-change in car-loving California, where parking takes up a lot of space and significantly adds to the cost of building new housing. Policy Club, a collective of digitally-savvy professionals who aim to utilize data to help politicians craft “smarter public policies that will move the needle on some of California’s most pressing challenges” has generated a visualization that postulates what some of the changes in density, parking, and maximum height might look like for the City of Los Angeles. Hunter Owens, a Policy Club contributor, explained that, at least in L.A., parking reductions associated with the bill will do the most to change the way the city builds in response to the bill. Owens said, "We were surprised to find that it's the parking requirements that are keeping building heights and density down," adding that many potentially affected areas in L.A. already benefit from lenient height limits. Doing away with parking requirements would allow housing developers to build more of the units they are entitled to build and make for a more efficient use of land, the maps show. The group is currently working to digitize city planning codes from across the state in an effort to create more visualizations. Another potential benefit from the bill would be the dramatic increase in the number of new sites where deed-restricted affordable housing units could potentially be built if SB 827 and the affordable housing bond pass later this year, according to Brian Hanlon of California YIMBY. SB 827 would permit nonprofit developers to build affordable housing in many so-called "high-opportunity" areas throughout the state that currently prohibit dense development. The bill would also dramatically expand the production of deed-restricted affordable housing in cities with inclusionary zoning policies, since building market-rate homes also requires providing homes for low-income Californians, Hanlon explained. These changes could make deed-restricted affordable housing an additional major force in resolving the crisis by incentivizing—rather than requiring—inclusionary development along transit routes. That component as well as the other provisions of the law could generate “millions” of potential new units, according to Hanlon’s early projections. Though official estimates are still pending, the prospect for lots of new housing construction are good if SB 827 passes later this year.
In recent years, the West Coast’s booming cities have seen significant population growth, resulting in an ongoing and worsening housing-affordability crisis. Though there are many overlapping causes for this crisis, the phenomenon is partially a product of too much success and not enough planning—cities like Seattle, San Francisco, and Los Angeles have added tens of thousands of new jobs over the years, but have built comparatively few homes to serve those workers. The result is a dizzying increase in the number of people experiencing burdensome rents and homelessness coupled with an expanded reliance on automobile transit as people are forced to live farther away from their jobs in order to afford housing. This regime is straining urban and civic life as more and more people—including college students, school teachers, and even police officers and firefighters— face increasing difficulties in terms of housing affordability. But just as the overlapping crises of climate change, housing unaffordability, and gridlock threaten to overwhelm these cities, potential solutions may be afoot. Across the region, major cities are beginning to cooperate at the regional level with peripheral municipalities in an effort to rein in carbon emissions, increase affordability and equity, and decrease automobile reliance. By relying on envisioned networks of transit-connected villages to grow up rather than out, entire metropolitan regions have the potential to be remade in the image of multi-nodal urbanism. In the Los Angeles area, the Southern California Association of Governments represents 18 million residents across a six-county region with the aim of helping to reduce sprawl. To the north, the San Francisco Bay Area Planning and Urban Research Association aims to unite the region’s 101 municipalities toward measured growth. Of the three major West Coast cities, however, Seattle—nearly 30 years into its own regional planning experiment following the passage of the Washington State Growth Management Act in 1990—is the furthest along in its efforts to articulate a new form of dense regional urbanism centered on regional transit and dispersed density. As it should, the path toward this brave new world begins with high-capacity transit. Though only established in 1993, the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority (Sound Transit) is in the midst of a massive, multibillion-dollar expansion plan that will see the transit agency extend a slew of new light rail and bus rapid transit (BRT) lines across the Puget Sound region. Sound Transit has been undergoing vigorous growth since 1996, when the agency published its initial “Sound Move” plan, which has been amended, expanded, and reapproved by regional voters first in 2008 and again in 2016. The most recent version— Sound Transit 3 (ST3)—consists of a 25-year vision aimed at adding an additional 62 new miles of light rail throughout the region with the goal of ultimately creating 116 miles of light rail augmented by expanded commuter rail and new BRT services. Crucially, the expanded system includes increased street bus service, shorter headways between buses and trains, and increased transit capacity via longer train cars and articulated buses. When fully built out, the system will span north to Everett, south to Tacoma, east to Redmond and west to Ballard and serve a projected population of five million. Aside from being a transit plan, ST3 is also part of a dogged, municipally led vision aimed at supplementing Seattle’s downtown core by investing in and redeveloping existing cities and towns across the Puget Sound. The Puget Sound Regional Council (PSRC), a cooperative agency tasked with envisioning equitable growth strategies for the region, leads the effort on the planning side. The organization helps to study and deploy land-use reforms like up-zoning, works to preserve the location and size of existing industrial lands, and pursues transportation and urbanization planning initiatives with the aim of keeping the rural areas, farmland, and forests around metropolitan regions “healthy and thriving,” according to the organization’s website. The council’s Vision 2040 plan—a growth management– focused environmental, economic, and transportation vision for Puget Sound crafted in 2007—aims to provide a blueprint for this transformation. PSRC’s vision seeks to direct urban growth so that it coincides with Sound Transit’s projected transit map for the future, overlaying progressive planning principles atop new transit corridors before the new lines are ever built. The effect is that land can be bought sooner and at cheaper prices, allowing, for example, nonprofit housing providers to maximize their investments long before surrounding real estate appreciates. Vision 2040 aims to create a set of interconnected “regional centers” that concentrate a density of housing, jobs, and civic and entertainment uses along these new transit corridors. According to PSRC, Washington state’s job growth will be three times higher than the national average over the next five years, a phenomenon the group hopes will reshape the Puget Sound region as a whole. The council is currently working to update its regional-centers plan, and it seeks to cluster groups of complementary industries across the region synergistically with housing and other services. Producing this “housing-jobs balance,” Josh Brown, executive director of PSRC said, is a central mission of the organization. Brown explained, “Our plan calls for larger existing cities to accommodate growth so we can achieve a better housing-jobs balance across the region.” Using this so-called Centers Framework, the organization has been able to create a plan for concentrating urban growth in existing urban centers and projects that, by 2040, the region will be served by over one hundred high-capacity transit stations surrounded by a density of mixed uses. PSRC administers and supports various programs to fulfill these goals, including helping to launch the so-called Regional Equitable Development Initiative (REDI) Fund, which helps to capture low land prices in future-growth areas with the intention of developing mixed-use projects that contain full-throated affordable housing components. The REDI Fund was launched by Enterprise Community Partners and regional partners like PSRC in December 2016 and recently closed on its first deal, a project developed with the Tacoma Housing Authority to create 300 to 500 new homes in the city’s West End neighborhood. For the project, at least 150 of the units will be priced for low- and moderate-income households in a bid to provide affordable housing for community college students in danger of falling into homelessness. The project is planned for a site across the street from Tacoma Community College and will eventually sit at the southern terminus of a forthcoming light rail line. The development will help PSRC achieve its interlocking goals of promoting density in existing corridors while also supporting the region’s burgeoning cohort of future workers. James Madden, senior program director with Enterprise Community Partners, said, “Our goal is to get private land into the hands of mission-oriented nonprofits in order to create mixed-income, multifamily housing.” The initiative comes as the region begins to embrace the coming changes. In the city of Lynwood, north of Seattle, for example, a 250-acre site surrounding a forthcoming light rail station is being redeveloped into a district called City Center that will contain mixed-use development and include a convention center and pedestrian- oriented street design. The plan will help Lynnwood grow in population by over 50 percent in coming decades. The eastern city of Redmond—where Microsoft’s headquarters are located—is also pushing forward on new transit-oriented projects, including the city’s Overlake Village, a 170-acre district that will contain 40,000 residents in the future. The first phase of the redevelopment is a 1,400-unit complex called Esterra Park that will also contain 1.2 million square feet of offices, 25,000 square feet of retail uses, a hotel, and a conference center. Taken together, the multifaceted growth plans in place across the Puget Sound region can serve as an example of a potential future for West Coast cities, a vision that is particularly focused on equity, pedestrianism, and dense urban redevelopment.
The 1,070-foot-tall, 61-story Pelli Clarke Pelli Architects-designed Salesforce Tower in San Francisco (formerly the Transbay Tower) has officially opened, capping a design process that stretches back to 2007. Much has been made of the tower’s impact on the skyline, as it came to gradually eclipse the 853-foot-tall Transamerica Pyramid as the tallest building in the city, and is now visible from neighboring Oakland. At 1.4 million square feet, the Salesforce Tower has always been divisive, especially among those who feel the headquarters is wholly out of scale for San Francisco, or that the tower represents the tech industry imposing its will on the city.
The bullet-shaped office tower, a centerpiece of Salesforce’s campus-like headquarters, opened its doors to employees on January 8th. Clad in glass and horizontal bands of metal accents that serve as solar shades, the building curves at the corners and tapers to a point as it rises. Pelli Clarke Pelli describes the design as aping the “simple, timeless form of the obelisk”. The tower has been LEED-Platinum Certified, and Salesforce claims that they’ve implemented an “innovative water recycling system” throughout. The façade continues past the top floor to create an ethereal crown, using perforated aluminum panels, that somewhat lessens the topper’s impact. A nine-story vertical facet has been slotted inside of the building’s topper, and the empty space within will be used to potentially project lights, patterns and photos across the tower’s crown; artist Jim Campbell has proposed using LED lights to display ever-changing pieces of art. Connected at the base of the tower is the Salesforce Transit Center, a new transit hub that will hold 11 transit systems when it’s complete later this year, also designed by Pelli Clarke Pelli. The Transit Center takes a markedly different approach from its neighbor, making use of a billowing wall of perforated aluminum panels to gently wrap the station’s upper floors. Supported by V-shaped columns, the station is centered around a massive “Light Column,” a sculptural skylight that grows all the way from the train platforms below to the transit center’s roof. The Light Column also serves to open up the main hall of the hub by creating a 118-foot-tall roof. A 5.4-acre rooftop park will top off the transit center, complete with running tracks, cafes, a 1,000-seat amphitheater, children’s playground, and fully accessible grasslands. Pelli Clarke Pelli claims that the ecology of the park will mirror the surrounding Bay Area, and feature everything from oak trees to a wetland marsh. AN will have an in-depth review of Salesforce Tower in the coming months, but in the meantime, Salesforce has posted a preview of the building’s interiors here.
The Bay Book House (BaBH) San Francisco international competition for students and young architects consists in proposing a space for cultural exchange that will activate one or several of the unused piers of the historic Port of San Francisco. San Francisco is the fourth largest city in the State of California, with a population of around 860,000 distributed over 121 km2. It is located on the West Coast of the United States, on the north end of the San Francisco peninsula, with the Pacific Ocean to the west and connected to the mainland to the south. San Francisco is one of the most important cities of the United States, one of the most well-known cultural, technological and financial centres of California, at the leading edge of research in biotechnology and biomedicine, where the opportunities generated by the internet revolution continue to attract residents and skilled workers with high salaries. It also welcomes more than 16 million tourists a year, drawn by the iconic image of the city. Its music, cinema and monuments are recognized around the world. It was in 1849, during the California Gold Rush, when the small trading post known as Yerba Buena became the incoming port for numerous ships transporting thousands of fortune hunters from all over the world. The population grew from 400 to 25,000 residents in just one year. The promise of great fortunes was so tempting that the crews of the arriving ships deserted them and hurried to the gold fields, leaving the Port of San Francisco filled with ghost ships. Mud and gravel was dumped into the bay due to mining activity, extending the boundaries of San Francisco 10 blocks out from its natural border. With the outbreak of World War II, the port became a military logistics centre involving nearly all the piers, with ships and troops and warships docked all along the Embarcadero. After the war and the arrival of container ships, commercial traffic moved to the Port of Oakland, thanks also to the construction of the Bay Bridge. The piers fell into disuse and were relegated to storage or abandoned. Today, the north-eastern shore of San Francisco has been reborn as a walking path flanked by palm trees and with a trolley, where numerous piers have been transformed into restaurants, office buildings and commercial areas. There are plans to build a museum, a cruise ship terminal and other services and attractions for residents and visitors. OBJECTIVE OF THE COMPETITION The objective of this competition for students and young architects, Bay Book House (BaBH) San Francisco, consists in proposing a space for cultural exchange that will activate one or several of the unused piers of the historic Port of San Francisco. Thanks to its privileged location, the proposed space will seek to become an international meeting point for students and researchers, as well as for lovers of culture and general knowledge, where consultation, open-air reading or technological innovation will attract inhabitants or visitors. The BaBH aspires to be the future of traditional libraries, an evolution in the how we understand, use and enjoy this source of knowledge, a museum of (not) books adapted to today’s world, and where culture becomes a unique sensory experience. In a city filled with iconic images known around the world, this new space should become the new cultural reference of San Francisco, the flagship of the strong shoreline that is currently flowering. JURY Kim Herforth Nielsen - Co-founder and Principal of 3XN Architects Masahiro Harada - Co-founder of MOUNT FUJI ARCHITECTS STUDIO Ada Yvars - Principal of Mangera Yvars Architects Sara de Giles - Principal of MGM Morales de Giles Arquitectos Vanessa Vielma - Director of ArchDaily Mexico Manuel J. Feo- Professor at ETSA Las Palmas de Gran Canaria Diego Botella, Álvaro Jiménez, Omar Páez & Yacme Mangrané- Winner team of MoAN Egypt competition PRIZES € 6,375 in prizes + 1 year free subscriptions to Arquitectura Viva magazine + 1 year free subscriptions to WA Wettbewerbe Aktuell magazine + Digital publication in Plataforma Arquitectura + Digital publication in Arquitectura Viva + Digital publication in Metalocus + Publication in WA Wettbewerbe Aktuell. +INFO & REGISTRATION: http://www.arquideas.net/competition/bay-book-house
Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) has unveiled a speculative design proposal that aims—among many aspects—to populate the San Francisco Bay with floating villages as part of an effort to buttress the region against climate change–induced flooding. The proposal is undertaken with One Architecture + Urbanism (ONE) and Sherwood Design Engineers and is among a slate of ten newly-announced schemes generated for the Resilient By Design Bay Area Challenge, a regional competition aimed toward generating ideas for how to best protect the Bay Area from rising sea levels. Projections for the region call for a minimum of four feet in sea level rise under moderate warming conditions by 2100. The changes would bring flooding to the area much more frequently than is currently the case, a development that would devastate coastal communities. Many of those communities are built atop landfills over former marsh areas and tidal zones. BIG’s proposal takes two routes in its effort to achieve its ambitious goals. First, the plan calls for restoring Islais Creek—a stubby inlet on the San Francisco side of the Bay sandwiched between the Dogpatch and Hunters Point neighborhoods—as part a larger plan for retrofitting the entire San Francisco Bay’s edge. BIG’s conceptual masterplan for the San Francisco Bay envisions restoring the wetlands along the water’s edge lost to development while redistributing new population centers into the bay to create an urban archipelago connected by public ferries. The plan also proposes relocating and expanding the existing network of industrial, port, and warehouse activities into more compact configurations surrounded by trails, marshes, and parkland. The scheme also calls for modernizing a stretch of Interstate-101 as a “machine for autonomous collective transit,” as explained by BIG founder Bjarke Ingels in a presentation video. The plan would create a Bus Rapid Transit loop in the south Bay that will anchor and connect new density nodes. The plan would extend to the southern edges of the Bay, as well, where existing salt palm and tidal marsh areas will be revisioned into experimental urban agriculture zones. The proposal is joined by schemes from James Corner Field Operations and Hassell+, among other multidisciplinary groups, and follows a year-long research period that brought together designers, landscape architects, planners, politicians, and community activists from across the region. For more information, see the Resilient by Design: Bay area Challenge website.
San Francisco’s $50 million, arts and culture-focused redevelopment of the Treasure Island neighborhood, a manmade island in San Francisco Bay, is moving along with the announcement of a star-studded shortlist of artists for its massive sculpture displays. Ai Weiwei, Hiroshi Sugimoto, New Jersey-based sculptor Chakaia Booker and five other artists have been invited to submit designs for three public sites across the development, from an initial pool of 495 entrants. The plan to expand the Treasure Island district will include the neighboring Yerba Buena Island, and add up to 8,500 new residences and 550,000 square feet of retail across both islands. The $50 million art budget, to be spent in the coming decades, will be generated through the 1% for Art in Private Development fund, which would levy a 1% “art tax” on new construction projects on the island. The three sites will include the Building 1 Plaza in front of the ferry landing, with a budget of $1 million, Waterfront Plaza, with a $2 million budget, and the Yerba Buena Hilltop Park, with a $2 million budget. Of the eight artists, only Weiwei and Booker have been invited to submit proposals for more than one site. Weiwei, Booker and Los Angeles-based Pae White, with Ned Kahn as a standby option, will submit for the Building 1 Plaza. Weiwei, British sculptor Antony Gormley, and Cuban artist Jorge Pardo will also propose pieces for the Waterfront Plaza, a likely future ferry terminal location. At the Yerba Buena Hilltop Park, which will offer sweeping views of Treasure Island once the development is complete, Booker, British sculptor and photography Andy Goldsworthy, and Sugimoto have been shortlisted. Once complete, the Treasure Island redevelopment, which will be jointly masterplanned by SOM and Perkins + Will, will only build on approximately 25 percent of the available land. By clustering new buildings along Treasure Island’s southern and western shores and building for density, the master plan not only reduces the island’s dependence on cars but will also provide plenty of space for the “art park” concept to unfold. CMG Landscape Architecture has been tapped to design the 300 acres of rolling parks across both islands. “It is anticipated that proposals will be submitted in the spring and will be placed on public view on Treasure Island as well as elsewhere in the city for comment and feedback before being voted upon by the Treasure Island Development Authority,” according to the San Francisco Arts Commission. Neither Weiwei nor Sugimoto are strangers to large-scale art installations, or integrating art with the built environment. Most recently, Weiwei's Good Fences Make Good Neighbors touched down in public areas throughout New York City, while Sugimoto was tapped to redesign the Hirshhorn Museum's lobby. The entire Treasure Island master plan can be read here.
After an initial approval in 2011 and years of delays, the SOM-master planned redevelopment of San Francisco’s Parkmerced neighborhood is finally set to break ground early this year. The 152-acre project is expected to bring 5,679 new residential units to San Francisco once it’s fully completed, a welcome respite for a city that’s in the midst of a housing crisis. According to the San Francisco Business Times, developer Parkmerced Investors LLC is expecting break ground on the first phase of the project, which includes 1,000 residential units across three buildings, in the first half of 2018. Part redevelopment and part addition, the Parkmerced project will ultimately add 230,000 square feet of retail space, 80,000 square feet of offices, and 60,000 square feet of parks to the neighborhood, according to the master plan. Although site permits for the first phase of construction were approved by the city in December, they have yet to be approved. Still, Parkmerced Investors is hopeful and has already begun spooling up to begin work. If everything goes as planned, the three new buildings should all be complete by 2022, although what percentage of these units will be affordable has yet to be finalized. This first phase of work will encompass a 17-story residential building with 299 units at 1208 Junipero Serra Boulevard, designed by DLR Group | Kwan Henmi, at an estimated $131 million. Additionally, international firm Woods Bagot is designing two 11-story buildings with a combined 248 units, one at 850 Gonzalez Drive and the other at 455 Serrano Drive, for $91.5 million, while 300 Arballo Drive, an eight-story, 89 unit building designed by San Francisco’s LMS Architects, will rise at the same time. The San Francisco Business Times notes that 21 and 25 Chumasero Drive will also be designed by SOM, although the timetable for any future buildings is currently uncertain. Once completed, the 11-million-square foot development could cost up to $1.35 billion. Parkmerced has long been viewed as an outlier community in San Francisco, as some former residents will fondly recall. Built as a planned community in the early 1940’s in part to house returning WWII service members, the neighborhood is part city-inside-a-city and part suburb, as the planning emphasizes single-family houses and car culture. While the area’s original developer, Metropolitan Life (MetLife), restricted home ownership in Parkmerced to whites-only until a lawsuit in 1972, the extension project has been envision as a holistic “eco-village” according to SOM. A sustainable vision plan was used to create the master plan, and prominently features open green spaces and storm water management systems. The vision plan is viewable here.
2017 Best of Design Award for Young Architects: mcdowellespinosa architects Location: Charlottesville, Virginia and Brooklyn, New YorkThe central premise of Spiegel Aihara Workshop (SAW) is the productive tension between architecture and landscape architecture, and the ways in which their respective materials respond different to time. SAW pursues this work collaboratively, through built projects, theoretical design speculations, trans-disciplinary research, and teaching. Honorable Mention Architect: Hana Ishikawa Firm name: site design group Location: Chicago Trained as an architect, Hana Ishikawa serves as the design principal at an emerging landscape architecture and urban design practice in Chicago, leading the firm’s process with equal parts innovation and logic. Ishikawa’s design philosophy is rooted in contributing to the well-being of society. Notable projects range from affordable housing to rehabilitative open spaces.
mcdowellespinosa architects focuses on transforming waste, excess, and ordinary materials into new spatial and material realities. The firm functions more like an artist atelier than a professional office, interfacing with everything it designs. From self-built shacks made from reclaimed agrarian structures to objects made with chewing gum or human hair—the methodology is very tactile, very hands-on, and very DIY. At the core of the firm’s philosophy is a celebration of authenticity through object transformation. "mcdowellespinosa show an inventiveness about space and tectonics that roots their practice firmly in the real, event when it seems implausible." —Matt Shaw, Senior Editor, The Architect's Newspaper (juror) Honorable Mention Architect: Spiegel Aihara Workshop Location: San Francisco
San Francisco’s sinking Millennium Tower may be less safe than previously thought, according to a new report by NBC Bay Area. The Handel Architects–designed tower, already the center of several lawsuits, could be exposing residents to a widespread fire risk owing to newly-formed gaps between the building’s curtain wall and structure. As previously reported, the 58-story, 645-foot-tall residential tower has already unevenly sunk 17 inches since opening in 2009, due to a foundation of concrete friction piles that extend 60 to 90 feet into the sandy soils below. After condo owner Paula Pretlow hired Palo Alto, California–based consultants Allana Buick & Bers to locate the source of mysterious odors in her unit in December of 2016, they discovered that the smells were likely coming from gaps that had opened up due to the building’s settlement. More important than the odors, however, the newly enlarged voids under the curtain wall would allow fire and smoke to climb upwards via a “wind tunnel” effect, similar to what happened at London’s Grenfell Tower earlier this year. However, in the final version of the report given to Pretlow, Allana Buick & Bers had blacked out their fire-related findings. Although the building consultants’ analysis was confined only to Pretlow’s 31st-floor unit, they indicated that the issue could be present throughout Millennium Tower, according to the un-redacted version of documents obtained by NBC Bay Area. “This condition may be more widespread than these two test areas and may be present in the entire stack. We recommend further investigation of this issue. These openings represent a breach in the fire and smoke barrier … which is a life and fire safety hazard to the occupants.” Pretlow fought for a year with Allana Buick & Bers for the unedited version of the report, which was only recently obtained. Now, after Pretlow had filed a new complaint to the San Francisco Fire Department, the fire marshal is scheduled to make a fresh round of inspections at the tower this week. In light of the new findings, an attorney for the homeowner’s association has released a statement saying that several facade panels have been removed recently so that engineers could inspect the underlying structure. Larry Karp, a geotechnical expert, told NBC Bay Area that as the building tilts and continues to sink, curtain wall sections would continue to bear an increasing amount of stress and bend further out of place. “The fact that they are coming apart is inevitable, it’s just a matter of time. It’s going to get worse.”
The recent deployment of a mobile security robot to the sidewalk outside of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals’ (SPCA) San Francisco chapter has raised questions over what role robots will play in the urban fabric in coming years. The SPCA’s K5 Knightscope security robot, a 5-foot tall, 400-pound ovoid on wheels that can go up to 3 miles per hour, was rented to dissuade local homeless residents from setting up encampments in front of the shelter’s building. Renting the robot only cost $7 an hour, compared to the $14 dollar minimum wage in San Francisco. The Mission District shelter first unveiled the autonomous rolling guard in early November, using it to patrol their parking lots and public sidewalks. Jennifer Scarlett, the S.F. SPCA’s president, told the San Francisco Business Times that the robot’s job was to prevent the homeless from congregating in the area. “We weren’t able to use the sidewalks at all when there’s needles and tents and bikes, so from a walking standpoint I find the robot much easier to navigate than an encampment,” said Scarlett. Renting an autonomously patrolling robot, especially one that takes up three feet of space on the sidewalk and is designed to shoo people away, has riled up public space advocates and drawn charges that the SPCA is engaging in hostile design. The issue of robots clogging public right-of-ways had grown so contentious in San Francisco that lawmakers recently passed an ordinance limiting the number of robots allowed to roll around the city’s public areas. The clash between autonomous robots and the urban environment reached a fevered pitch in 2017. The same K5-model of security robot caught criticism for plowing over a toddler in Palo Alto, drowning itself in a Washington D.C. fountain, and getting beat up by a drunk man in Mountain View. Even the SPCA’s robot was reportedly pushed over by angry homeless encampment residents at least once. reportedly also “terrified” dogs coming in and out of the shelter.
2017 Best of Design Awards for Landscape – Public: Confetti Urbanism Architect: Endemic (Clark Thenhaus) Location: San Francisco, California Confetti Urbanism reimagines the California College of the Arts Back Lot as a display venue, work yard, and social space. The 73,470-square-foot Back Lot presents prototypes of the Designing Material Innovation exhibition while supporting student design activities and equipment—from a welding station to hammocks. Confetti Urbanism celebrates the diversity of the Back Lot’s many components by organizing them as though they were tossed confetti, creating a loose yet carefully studied frame for the prototypes on display and animating the site through function and festivity. “The spontaneity and framework of this project is incredibly engaging and refreshing. A parking lot is transformed through simple strategic interventions and a democratic vision into a dynamic open-air laboratory for material innovation and creation. They’ve shown a parking lot can become a platform for interaction and creation.” —Emily Bauer, landscape architect, Bjarke Ingels Group (juror) Curator: Jonathan Massey Pavilions By: APTUM Architecture T+E+A+M CCA Digital Craft Lab Matter Design Buoyant Ecologies Float Lab Honorable Mention Project: Farnham-Connolly State Park Pavilion Architect: Touloukian Touloukian (Pavilion Architect) with Crosby Schlessinger Smallridge (Landscape Architect) Location: Canton, Massachusetts Farnham-Connolly State Park Pavilion began as an environmental cleanup of an abandoned municipal airport. Surrounding wetlands were remediated, and PCB-impacted soils were collected under a permeable geo-textile cap for the location of a new park and comfort-station pavilions. Both pavilions meet the social and physical needs of visitors, while paying homage to the area’s history of flight. Honorable Mention Project: The Meriden Green Architect: Milone & MacBroom Place: Meriden, Connecticut Meriden Green began as a flood-control project 20 years ago and became the catalyst for economic revitalization by transforming a brownfield into a greenfield. The firm executed a Connecticut city’s vision of large expanses of lawn for events and play; pedestrian routes; a bridge linking neighborhoods; and new development opportunities.