Transformative Land

Class: TRANSFORMATIVE LAND: Envisioning Bay Link Pier 70
Instructors: Mona El Kahafif, David Fletcher
Dates: Fall 2008
Student Projects: Ecosynapse, Urban Reef

With approximately 65 acres, the site of Pier 70 is located on San Francisco’s Central Waterfront. It is owned by the Port of San Francisco and framed by 18th, 22nd and Illinois Streets. Embedded into the upcoming neighborhood of the Dogpatch and adjoining the latest waterfront redevelopments including Mission Bay, the site is located at one of the most important areas of urban redevelopment along the Bay’s waterfront. For the last two centuries, the majority of this site has been in use for shipbuilding, steel production and for other heavy industrial uses, which cause today’s contaminations. Pier 70 can be ranked as the oldest continuously operating shipyard on the West Coast with a strong historic character, established by the collection of historic architectural buildings on the site. Historic preservation, open spaces, site access, land use, creation of sufficient economic opportunities to attract developers and sustainability are the guidelines for the generation of a new draft plan, which will be developed with public participation until spring 2009.

Although the public discussion for the redevelopment of the site is unfolding around the establishment of a historic district, the studio will participate in the public discussion by operating as a laboratory to produce progressive ideas and new opportunities for the site. Students will work on spatial and programmatic ideas/strategies focusing the potential for the site to become an iconic public place within the city, a catalyst for the urban development of the neighborhood and a strong public link to the bay. The uncontested importance of the history and the existing artifacts on the site should therefore be integrated into the continuous transformation of the pier, supporting the idea of urban sedimentation over time. Through history the eastern part of San Francisco waterfront used to be a highly artificial landscape, designed for the industrial use of the Port. TRANSFORMATIVE LAND: Envisioning Bay Link Pier 70 stands for the spirit of the site, which is defined through shaping processes. The current transformation at the water’s edge should offer visionary concepts for a new multilayered urban landscape as an attractive element along the city’s waterfront.

The studio is divided into distinctive phases. An urban analysis of the site and the extended context will help to understand the current situation along the San Francisco waterfront, while the analysis of precedents provides students with helpful design strategies for the urban scale. The conceptual design strategy will focus on the potentials of the public space and its programming to identify the transformation of the site. A workshop during the design phase with networking professionals will help students to work on urban rules sets and architectural components of their project.

Students will work in teams and individually in three different scales: city scale SFO, site scale Pier 70 and architectural scale of a part of the proposed conceptual master plan.

Sponsored Studio
The studio is supported by the local developer BUILD INC., who is interested in creative proposals for potential future developments of the site. The program is going to be embedded into public events and presentations.