From Cars To People: In San Francisco, 28 acres of ugly waterfront parking lots are being redeveloped & revitalized as mixed use

Along the San Francisco, California waterfront, construction has started on Rotterdam-based MVRDV’s 23-story mixed-use building in the Mission Rock neighborhood.

The Mission Rock masterplan redevelops 28 acres (11 hectares) of asphalt—mostly a windswept parking lot—into an exciting new neighborhood and community gathering point for local residents and visitors alike.

This is one of four buildings in Phase 1 of a multi-phase masterplan developed by the San Francisco Giants and Tishman Speyer. It is designed as part of a collaborative design process, with four architecture firms designing their plot in conversation with the other three offices. Alongside the MVRDV project, the masterplan also includes designs by the internationally renowned architecture firms Studio Gang, Henning Larsen, and WORKac.

Its ensemble of mixed-use buildings is tied together by public spaces that surround the buildings and continues through their ground floors, connecting them seamlessly to the projected China Basin Park.

The project is part of a public-private partnership established by the San Francisco Giants, Tishman Speyer and the Port of San Francisco with the aim to develop a mixed-use waterfront neighbourhood near Oracle Park.

MVRDV’s design projects onto the block a topography inspired by Californian landscapes, forming an ensemble of low and high-rise sharing a publicly accessible canyon-like space that provides a more intimate space within in the open harbor-oriented masterplan.

The block, called Building A, occupies a prime location, adjoining the “handshake plaza” that will greet visitors entering Mission Rock via the 3rd Street Bridge. Its internal, canyon-like street is an essential part of a sequence of public spaces, extending the landscape from China Basin Park through the building itself and into the heart of the Mission Rock masterplan, connecting the different plots.

Undulating balconies extend all the way up the western façades of the 23-storey tower, and the many setbacks and overhangs on each level create terraces that add to the vibrant atmosphere of the pedestrian space. The 395,000-square-foot (36,700m2) project includes a diverse collection of apartments and approximately 58,000 square feet (5,400m2) of office space with a private lobby and ground-floor retail.

Roof terraces complement internal amenities for the inhabitants, while the canyon is shared with people working in offices on the lower floors. At ground level, retail and restaurants create lively streets.

It’s wonderful to see this project underway, as we really can’t wait to show the result of what is, for us, an exemplary project,” says MVRDV founding partner Nathalie de Vries.

In our own design we were able to incorporate several ideas that are key to MVRDV, such as mixing functions, creating a diverse collection of apartments, and adding many lively, green outdoor spaces. The project is also significant due to the innovative collaborative design process we shared with our colleagues at Studio Gang, Henning Larsen, and WORKac,” she continued.

MVRDV’s design represents a holistic sustainability strategy that builds on the strategy of the Mission Rock masterplan and targets LEED Gold certification. By converting a parking lot into a dense and mixed-use block with homes, offices, and retail in one place, the project reduces residents’ reliance on cars.

The building includes a partial basement that houses on-site bicycle parking, as well as supporting space for the efficient District Energy System. In the building’s external spaces, vegetation is the driving force.

The design includes ample greenery, not only in the canyon and on residential balconies, but also on the roofs of the project’s plinth level. These green spaces provide a variety of amenity spaces for the building’s inhabitants, enhancing user experience while creating ecological habitats for wildlife.

All images courtesy of MVRDV.

See MVRDV website.

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