Baseball-powered plan repurposes, renews and reconnects an ugly parking lot into a vibrant mixed-use San Francisco waterfront

Long-time REVITALIZATION readers won’t be surprised to see Rotterdam-based design firm MVRDV in our pages again. The Dutch architects have become world leaders in innovatively and beautifully redeveloping and revitalizing urban spaces on a large scale, and in a very green manner. So, we decided it was time that they had their own a Feature Article here, rather than the usual news article.

Most of the MVRDV projects we’ve seen in REVITALIZATION have been based in Europe or Asia. Many of them (especially those in Europe) were typified by repurposing, renewing and reconnecting sterile, dying inner city office developments into green, mixed-use neighborhoods.

Now, MVRDV has unveiled its design for a 23-story mixed-use building on a redeveloped waterfront parking lot in the Mission Rock district of San Francisco, California. In another great example of the 3Re Strategy at work, the lifeless site will be repurposed and renewed while being reconnected to the city.

The building is proposed as part a masterplan developed by the San Francisco Giants baseball team and Tishman Speyer. MVRDV’s design is one of four buildings that were designed simultaneously in a unique, collaborative design process that also included internationally-renowned architecture firms Studio Gang, Henning Larsen, and WORKac.

It is a rare opportunity to collaborate with world-class architects as a team from the very onset of a project to create more than just eye-catching architecture, but also to push the design and development principles to construct a welcoming community for all,” stated the Mission Rock Project Team as a group.

The Mission Rock Master Plan:

The hideous (but scenic!) parking lot is in the center, and Oracle Park is near the top.
Image via Google Maps.

Mission Rock represents 12 years of planning and community input to turn 28 acres (11 hectares) of asphalt and a windswept parking lot into an exciting new neighbourhood and community gathering point for San Francisco residents and visitors.

The project is a public-private partnership with the San Francisco Giants, Tishman Speyer and the Port of San Francisco to build a waterfront mixed-use neighborhood near Oracle Park.

Mission Rock is designed as a neighbourhood whose ensemble of mixed-use buildings will be tied together by the public spaces surrounding them and penetrating their ground floors. As co-master developers and general partners, the Giants and Tishman Speyer will design, build, lease and program Mission Rock.

Phase 1, scheduled to break ground in early 2020, includes 4 buildings: 2 residential (540 units), 2 commercial (550,000 square feet / 51,000 square meters); the 5-Acre (2 hectare) China Basin Park; and a retail and restaurant space (85,000 square feet/7,900 square meters).

The Collaborative Design Cohort

The Mission Rock team recognized this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to create a unique destination that feels like it could only be in San Francisco, but one that San Francisco has never seen before.

As such, it assembled a team of world-renowned architects to collaboratively design the buildings for Phase One of the project.

In other words, they created an “anti-master-plan master plan” where each building would have its own distinct look and feel but would complement each other and the surrounding environment – including China Basin Park.

The project team adopted a radical sharing philosophy. The architectural teams forming the design cohort (including local firms) came together in true studio fashion to discover, share, collaborate, evaluate and to ensure that the first phase of Mission Rock authentically reflects the community’s vision.

The result is four distinct buildings that tie together seamlessly with the newly-imagined China Basin Park to form Phase 1 of Mission Rock.

About Building A:

San Francisco combines rigid grids with a daring natural topography. While Mission Rock will become an extension of the city’s existing urban grid, the site misses the topographical qualities and challenges that make some of San Francisco’s traditional neighborhoods so charming. The designers asked themselves, “what if we recreated a rocky hill within the parcel?

MVRDV’s concept design for Building A was inspired by Californian rock formations, with a narrow valley running between steep rocky walls that extend all the way up the tower western façade. The Canyon is anticipated to become a lush and lively space, with landscape extending from China Basin Park into Building A.

Given Building A’s prime location, the building will become home base for Mission Rock, welcoming the visitors to the neighbourhood at the ‘handshake’ plaza, which spans from the 3rd Street Bridge to the corner of China Basin Park and Building A. Establishing a dialogue between the waterfront and iconic ballpark, the stepping and faceted volume visually connects to the stands of the ballpark while simultaneously creating private and common terraces that boast extraordinary views towards the bay and downtown.

The building has 23 above grade stories with a partial basement which will house the on-site bike parking and supporting space for the District Energy System. The Canyon fracture makes it so the North-East podium block acts as its own separate building, while remaining well connected to the broader offerings of the tower.

Referred to as the “Annex”, this port is equipped with its own program and entry lobby which opens to the east side of the building. Residential amenity spaces will incorporate active rooftop uses, providing residents the opportunity to engage with the park below and gather with unobstructed views of the water and bay bridge.

The tower height is 240 feet (73 meters) with an additional 14-foot (4.3-meter) crown, to screen mechanical equipment on the tower roof. Vegetation becomes the driving force of rooftop design, to enhance user experience while creating ecological habitats.

All images courtesy of MVRDV, unless otherwise credited.

See MVRDV website.

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