Construction begins on MVRDV’s geology-inspired San Francisco tower

Construction has begun on MVRDV’s mixed-use tower in San Francisco, California. Image © Pixelflakes
Construction has begun on MVRDV’s mixed-use tower in San Francisco, California.
Image © Pixelflakes

Construction has started on MVRDV’s 23-story mixed-use building at Mission Rock in San Francisco, California. The project is one of four buildings in the first of a multi-phase masterplan.

The building is designed as part of a collaborative design process, with four architecture firms designing their plot in conversation with the other three offices. Alongside the MVRDV project, the masterplan also includes designs by Studio GangHenning Larsen, and WORKac.

The Mission Rock masterplan turns 11-ha (28 acre) of asphalt including a windswept parking lot into a new neighborhood and community gathering point for San Francisco residents and visitors. Its ensemble of mixed-use buildings is tied together by public spaces surrounding the buildings and continues through their ground floors, connecting them to the projected China Basin Park. The project is part of a public-private partnership established by the San Francisco Giants, realtor Tishman Speyer, and the Port of San Francisco with the aim to develop a mixed-use waterfront neighborhood near Oracle Park.

MVRDV’s design projects onto the block a topography inspired by Californian landscapes, forming an ensemble of low- and high-rise sharing a publicly accessible canyon-like space that provides a more intimate space within in the open harbor-oriented masterplan.

The block, called Building A, adjoins the ‘handshake plaza’ that will greet visitors entering Mission Rock. Its internal, canyon-like street is part of a sequence of public spaces, extending the landscape from China Basin Park through the building itself and into the heart of the Mission Rock masterplan, connecting the different plots. Undulating balconies extend all the way up the western façades of the 23-story tower, and the many setbacks and overhangs on each level create terraces that add to the atmosphere of the pedestrian space. The 36,700-m2 (395,000-sf) project includes a diverse collection of apartments and approximately 5400 m2 (58,000 sf) of office space with a private lobby and ground floor retail. Roof terraces complement internal amenities while the canyon is shared with people working in offices on the lower floors. At ground level, retail and restaurants occupy the streets.

“In our own design we were able to incorporate several ideas that are key to MVRDV, such as mixing functions, creating a diverse collection of apartments, and adding many lively, green outdoor spaces,” said Nathalie de Vries, MVRDV founding partner.  “The project is also significant due to the innovative collaborative design process we shared with our colleagues at Studio Gang, Henning Larsen, and WORKac.”

MVRDV’s design represents a holistic sustainability strategy building on the strategy of the Mission Rock masterplan and targets Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) Gold certification. By converting a parking lot into a dense and mixed-use block with homes, offices, and retail in one place, the project reduces residents’ reliance on cars. The building includes a partial basement for onsite bicycle parking, as well as supporting space for the district energy system. In the building’s external spaces, vegetation is the driving force. The design includes greenery, not only in the canyon and on residential balconies, but also on the roofs of the project’s plinth level. These green spaces provide amenity spaces for the building’s inhabitants, enhancing user experience while creating ecological habitats for wildlife.

Building A is the second of the four Mission Rock buildings to begin construction. The first was Building G, an office building designed by Henning Larsen. MVRDV collaborated with the San Francisco-based firm Perry Architects acting as executive architect, landscape architect GLS Landscape/Architecture, Magnusson Klemencic Associates as the structural engineer, and PAE Engineers as MEP engineer.

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