Dezeen Magazine

The Canyon by MVDVR

MVRDV unveils The Canyon tower with "public ravine" in San Francisco

Dutch architecture studio MVRDV has created The Canyon, a housing complex in San Francisco that marks its first completed project on the United States' West Coast.

The Canyon is a 23-storey high rise with a 240-foot-tall (73 metres) tower standing on top of a plinth with a bisecting walkway that creates a canyon effect, giving the structure its name.

It features a red-brown facade that the studio describes as "ruggedly textured" and a red colour that references the geological formations of California.

Where the facades meet at the central walkway, the windows and balconies have been stepped back to create the rugged texture.

View of water and red-brown high rise
MVRDV has unveiled The Canyon in San Francisco

The building is largely residential, comprising 283 housing units – with nearly a third set aside for "middle-income families" – and two floors of offices above the ground floor.

Ample light is afforded to the apartments via the bisecting walkway, which will also provide access from the street to the middle of the structure and to the wider Mission Rock complex.

The ground level hosts a number of shops and restaurants accessible to the public, while landscaping and public spaces have been added to the roofs of the plinth structure.

"With our design we introduce a feeling of topography to make the building very much connected to its location", said MVRDV founding partner Nathalie de Vries.

"Crucially, this approach also enabled us to contribute to a lively neighbourhood: with the public ravine as its focal point, The Canyon creates a landscape of activity where the public realm connects to the shops, offices, and homes to keep Mission Rock busy and alive."

View from the canyon entrance with tower
It has a reddish colour on its facade

Commissioned through a partnership consisting of MLB team the San Francisco Giants, real estate firm Tishman Speyer and the Port of San Francisco, the Mission Rock development is a mixed-use neighbourhood that will be developed on the site of a former parking lot on San Francisco's waterfront.

The Canyon is part of the first phase of the Mission Rock development, which includes designs by international studios such as Chicago-based Studio Gang, Danish studio Henning Larsen and New York-based WorkAC.

The plan is for all of the buildings to host different aspects of the development's utilities. The Canyon will host the key elements of the heating systems, while the WorkAC structure will hold a water recycling plant.

Aerial view
It is bisected by a walkway that creates the canyon effect with the stepped facades

"The proximity to the San Francisco Bay provides the site with the opportunity to utilise bay water for both cooling and heating of Mission Rock via a water exchange system," said MVDRV.

"The system leads to a reduction of CO2 and lower water and energy usage and thus lower bills for the tenants."

Other recent projects in San Francisco include a mixed-used building by US studio Handel Architects placed on a triangular site and a glass extension to the city's Cathedral School for Boys by Charles F Bloszies.

The photography is by Jason O'Rear.

Project credits: 

Architect: MVRDV; founding Partner in charge: Nathalie de Vries; Partner: Frans de Witte; Design Team: Fedor Bron, Mick van Gemert, Fouad Addou, Matteo Gramellini, Teodora Cirjan, Andrea Manente, Claudia Consonni, Aneta Rymsza, Marina Kounavi, Sandra Jasionyte, Ievgenia Koval, Nicolas Garin Odriozola, Paul van Herk, Kamila Korona
Executive architect: Perry Architects
Landscape architect: GLS Landscape/Architecture
Structural engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates
MEP: PAE Engineers
Contractor: Swinerton Builders
Developer: Tishman Speyer