Dezeen Magazine

Mission Rock development in San Francisco

MVRDV, Studio Gang and Henning Larsen unveil towers for San Francisco's Mission Rock development

A canyon-like tower by MVRDV and a twisting structure by Studio Gang are among the buildings to be revealed for a new San Francisco development.

MVRDV, Studio Gang, Henning Larsen and WORKac make up the four practices that have teamed up to design buildings for a new neighbourhood called Mission Rock.

The development will be located in the Mission Bay neighbourhood, on 3rd Street in between Terry Francois Boulevard and Mission Rock Street. It will span a 28-acre waterfront site on San Francisco Bay that is currently used as a parking lot.

Mission Rock development in San Francisco
VRDV referenced California's mountains when designing The Canyon

Rotterdam firm MVRDV has proposed mixed-use tower, Building A, that features a 23-storey construction with box-shaped units that project out to form a pixelated effect.

It is nicknamed The Canyon because MVRDV referenced California's mountains when designing, with the intention to bring back the city's hilly topography missing on the flat asphalt plot.

"We wanted to establish a dialogue between the waterfront, the ballpark, and the robust Californian rock formations," said MVRDV co-founder Nathalie de Vries.

"Those formations inspired The Canyon's architectural form: steep rocky walls with a narrow valley running between them, thus creating a mix of apartments of different sizes, roof terraces, and lush public spaces which feel welcoming to all."

Mission Rock development in San Francisco
The facade features a pixellated construction

The project comprises a central tower as a "canyon" that will "fracture" the north-east podium to make a building form of its own and also a lush space at ground level. Another volume, known as the "annex", will contain a separate lobby on the east side of the building.

At the base of MVRDV's tower is a podium with a similarly faceted, red exterior. Located here will be retail, office and commercial spaces.

The building will scale 240 feet (73 metres) and contain about 285 residential units. Mechanical equipment will be housed on the roof in an additional 14-foot (4.3-metre) volume, and a rooftop patio, partial basement for bike parking, and space for the District Energy System round out the design.

Mission Rock development in San Francisco
Studio Gang's building features twisting floor plates

US firm Studio Gang, meanwhile, has conceived a 23-storey tower with floors that twist away from one another to create inlets for planted terraces. Ceramics will clad each floor to offer varying hues.

"Building F will be at the heart of Mission Rock, housing amenities for the entire neighbourhood that overlook a new public plaza and vibrant streetscape," said Studio Gang's founder Jeanne Gang.

"For the residences, we designed a tower inscribed with terraces, extending this indoor-outdoor living and offering views amidst elevated bio-diverse gardens."

Similar to MVRDV building, Studio Gang's project will accommodate residences, shops and commercial spaces.

Mission Rock development in San Francisco
Henning Larsen has designed an office tower for Mission Rock

Danish studio Henning Larsen Architects and New York firm WORKac have both created office buildings for Mission Rock.

Like MVRDV, Henning Larsen Architects has taken cues from San Francisco's hilly terrain for Building G. The lower floors are stepped to create terraces for planting, drawing similarities to Studio Gang's structure, while the gridded facade extends at the top to form a balustrade around a rooftop garden.

"Contrary to the contemporary trend of sleek all-glass commercial towers, the aesthetic of Mission Rock reflects the historic architecture of industrial San Francisco where tactile materials bring an inviting, comfortable environment and deep facades create a dynamic play of light and shadow throughout the day," said Henning Larsen partner an design principal Louis Becker.

"An active ground plane with diverse retail programming and engaging streetscape design will define the success of Mission Rock as a new, yet authentic San Francisco neighbourhood," added Henning Larsen design manager Kelly Holzkamp.

Mission Rock development in San Francisco
WORKac's office building has a horizontal form

WORKac has created a more linear office building with volumes that form a pixellated exterior. The protrusions are also used to create outdoor areas.

"We thought we could take advantage of all the setbacks at the different levels by carving new openings down the face of the building," said WORKac co-founder Dan Wood.  "That way every floor has a garden, open to the sky."

"This a building that reflects the city's embrace of the outdoor life so that no matter where you are, you have access to workspace outside," he added.

Mission Rock development in San Francisco
Mission Rock will also include a waterfront park

Mission Rock as a whole encompasses 12 plots – seven for residential, four commercial and one for parking – with a plaza at the centre.

The firms worked in unison to "collaboratively design the buildings," according to a project statement, and teamed with local architects. MVRDV worked with Perry Architects, Studio Gang with Quezada Architecture, and the two office buildings were created in collaboration with Adamson Associates and YA Studio.

Mission Rock development in San Francisco
Shallow pools, steps and a dock will be integrated

Construction is slated to commence in early 2020.

The masterplan also includes the rehabilitation of San Francisco's historic Pier 48. A new park will also be included at the north of the property – China Basin Park. It will be designed by New York landscape architecture studio SCAPE with local firms Miller and Company and Min Design.

Mission Rock development in San Francisco
The park will overlook Oakland and the Giant's baseball stadium

Across the water from the park is the home stadium of American professional baseball team the San Francisco Giants, called Oracle Park. In 2010 the Giants won the rights to develop the area, currently known as Seawall Lot 337. The team will develop Mission Rock property in collaboration with Tishman Speyer.

Currently, San Francisco is undergoing expansion across its skyline. Several other buildings are proposed for the city, recently completed, or under construction. Examples are The Avery glass tower by OMA, Studio Gang's spiralling Mira building that topped out in April and Pelli Clarke Pelli's monolithic Salesforce Tower that completed in 2018.