Architectural 'Cohort' Designs Mission Rock in San Francisco

15. October 2019
All images courtesy of Tishman Speyer and San Francisco Giants

A 28-acre parking lot is being transformed by Tishman Speyer and the San Francisco Giants into Mission Rock, a mixed-use neighborhood across the water from the Giants' Oracle Park. Phase 1 features buildings designed by Henning Larsen, MVRDV, Studio Gang, and WORKac.

Mission Rock started in 2010, when the Giants won exclusive rights to develop the waterfront parcel they use as a surface parking lot for games. Last year the Giants partnered with Tishman Speyer to develop Mission Rock in three phases. Separated from Oracle Park by McCovey Cove, the site is being readied for the construction of four buildings, a retail corridor, and the five-acre China Basin Park in the project's first phase.

The list of first-phase architects sounds like a supergroup from the 1970s, though the developer team calls Studio Gang, Henning Larsen, MVRDV, and WORKac a "collaborative design cohort." The project team wrote in a statement: "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."

The same statement indicates the cohort "organized themselves around a set of ground floor values that puts place making and experience above all else." In turn, those values (Location Specific, Design Quality, Community Benefit, and Indoor/Outdoor) led to the establishment of five goals for guiding building designs:  

  1. Design the ground plane to connect blocks and expand the public realm.
  2. Make podiums into “mesas” that enliven their surroundings.
  3. Organize and shape towers to optimize views and create memorable collective silhouettes.
  4. Select materials to tie the buildings and neighborhood together.
  5. Respond to the Bay Area’s climate and ecosystem to create a comfortable and sustainable  environment.

Brief details on the four building designs are below. Groundbreaking for the first phase is expected in early 2020.

Building A: MVRDV with Perry Architects
Building A – Residential/Office

Lead Design Architect: MVRDV 

Associate Architect: Perry Architects 

Size: 380,000 gsf, 23 floors (50,000 sf office, 285 residential units)

Short Description: "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. 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."

Building B: WORKac with Adamson Associates and Y.A. Studio
Building B – Office

Lead Architect: WORKac

Associate Architects: Adamson Associates, Y.A. Studio

Size: 300,000 gsf, 8 floors

Short Description: "Building B is an eight-story building that finds inspiration in the topography and natural setting of San Francisco, as well as in the city’s long-standing commitment towards environmentally-conscious living. WORKac has transformed this love of the outdoors into a vibrant workspace that invites people to seek access to terraces, and work surrounded by landscape.

"Building B is conceived as a series of layers that shift horizontally to create a dynamic sense of topography, while also producing spaces that can become terraces. The horizontal layers are connected vertically through a series of carved gardens that become outdoor meeting rooms which enable creative thinking, collaboration, and recharging throughout the workday. The diversity of garden types and sizes combined with the shifting layers work in tandem to bring the scale of the building down to that of the street, visually connecting the vibrant social life of Shared Public Way and Mission Rock Square with Building B’s stepping terraces and Mission Rock’s dynamic skyline."

Building F: Studio Gang with Quezada Architecture (Credit TBD)
Building F – Residential

Lead Design Architect: Studio Gang 

Associate Architect: Quezada Architecture

Size: 315,000 gsf, 23 floors (255 residential units)

Short Description: "Located at the heart of Mission Rock, directly north of its main public plaza, Mission Rock Square, Building F is designed to become the new neighborhood’s social hub and central community gathering space.

"Reinterpreting the typical tower podium, the building’s base is carved with steps leading up to a mesa-like space with sunny planted terraces and raked seating. The terraces offer views of the activity in the public square below. At ground level, shops and cafés bring their own unique character to their storefront, further contributing to the neighborhood’s lively public realm."

Building G: Henning Larsen with Adamson Associates and Y.A. Studio
Building G – Office

Lead Design Architect: Henning Larsen 

Associate Architects: Adamson Associates, Y.A. Studio

Size: 300,000 gsf, 13 floors

Short Description: "Henning Larsen’s Building G design takes a departure in the scale and particularities of beloved San Francisco neighborhoods -- the city’s steep urban landscapes and the site’s legacy of industrial architecture. These served as inspiration and generators for a concept that breaks down the scale of the large commercial block to a smaller ‘neighborhood’ scale, which activates the ground plane and in turn supports a dynamic streetscape.  

"Inspired by the geologic rock formations of California’s Devil's Postpile in Yosemite National Park, the overall massing volume is carved into smaller bays, which creates a dynamic and varied appearance from street level reminiscent of traditional San Francisco neighborhoods. The design features an iconic faceted façade accented by lush green terraces that ascend the mesa (podium) and visually extend China Basin Park up along the building exterior, culminating in an expansive fifth floor terrace that wraps around the tower. These spacious terraces, carefully crafted into the design of the floor plates, will be recreational as well as active workspaces for future tenants."

China Basin Park: SCAPE with Min Design and the Miller Company
Existing conditions of the 28-acre site

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