SWL 337: The Four Proposals (Clockwise from top left: Kenwood; Build Inc.; Federal; Giants)

Four teams, four overviews, and four proposals (in their entirety). One place (or rather two) to compare, contrast and summarize your thoughts (and perhaps lobby a bit as well).

And for those who crave even more information (or a chance to grill interact with the development teams), we’ll remind you of the all-day public workshop (including team presentations and Q&A) this Saturday (3/1/08) at Jelly’s Café (295 Terry Francois Blvd).

22 thoughts on “San Francisco’s Seawall Lot 337 Design Proposals: In Summary”
  1. I probably shouldn’t say this, but… I just can’t get into the whole Mission Bay area at all. I have no confidence that this will be a good project, regardless of which proposal is chosen. Why do I say this? Go visit Berry Street. Is there a more abysmal, depressing, soulless street in San Francisco? It looks to me that the 337 is just more of the same. Airless, dead, contrived. Mission Bay is like a mini insta-city. Might as well be a corporate campus in the suburbs, or any of the new “neighborhoods” in Dubai. When it’s complete, you want to know what it will look like? Parkmerced, without the character (and if you’ve been to Parkmerced, you know that’s not saying much.)

  2. Damion-
    As someone who lives on Berry St., let me tell you — it’s a really awesome place to live. Sure, the buildings might not exactly be an architect’s or academic’s dream, but it’s just a great place to live. It’s really nice to walk along the creek on the promenade, walk the dog and catch an inning or two outside the right field fence when the Giants are playing, get some Philz and donuts on the weekends, the public transit is the best in the city with all the bus lines and light rail, it’s nice to have a dishwasher and washer/dryer and modern conveniences, and the neighborhood is great, with South Park nearby, the two Java Houses, and awesome restaurants both on the high and the low end — Orson and the Hotel Utah right next to each other capture it.
    Soulless and depressing? Not at all. I doubt anyone is rushing to give the area some sort of architectural gold star, but don’t knock it until you’ve tried it.

  3. Damion-
    I can see where you are coming from…..a walk down Berry Street isn’t exactly an architect’s dream either. However I was recently impressed by the parks, rec areas, and paths alongside the channel. I look forward to playing tennis and basketball once the courts open–and going kayaking once they open the kayak launch. The basketball courts really make good use out of the horrid space under the highway. The landscape planners, I think, did a good job. If only the architecture took a similar cue. The designs of Berry Street are very bland and generic…and yes, they do appear to be brought over from Pleasanton. I only hope future development in the Mission Bay area will produce a greater product for the pedestrian.

  4. The Kenwood and Federal designs are abysmal, in my humble not-associated-with-real-estate-industry-in-any-way opinion.
    The other two plans look decent … I hope they work out well. I walk from my humble abode in Rincon Hill to the Mission Bay library every other weekend or so, and I’m hopeful to see more of the retail spaces along King Street in South Beach filled in.

  5. I also think that this neighborhood is only going to get better. Retail and restaurant spaces in the new area are slowly getting leased out by both chain and local establishments. More of the vacant plots of land are being developed, along with additional green space. The condos and apartments are beginning to fill up, giving the area the critical mass that it desperately needed even a couple years ago. It is close to downtown and has sunny, mild weather when the rest of the city is foggy and frigid. It may not yet have the same character of established neighborhoods, but I’ve seen character already develop in the area over the past couple years. I think that if many people looked at this area with an objective mind, they would be impressed.

  6. Do developers of Mission Bay condo projects have difficulty keeping a straight face as they tout their concrete condos as “waterfront” property”? It would be more accurate to refer to the places as facing onto a stagnant canal.

  7. Part of the problem w/all of these is the enclave/development feeling within an already existing enclave (Mission Bay). This site would work better with a plan which invited numerous styles/architects within such a spectacular site thus creating more urban complexity and interest. (yup even in Calif). These 4 proposals seem so formulaic and boring in contrast to a design w/varied styles. While Battery Park might not be the best example, the range of architecture there has increasingly helped create a community that doesn’t feel simplistic and overly planned as seems typical here. Mission Bay itself has no nuanced, granular urban experience — is corporately & safely dull –and seems devoid of urban life.

  8. In general, bland and boring is what I read concerning this piece of land. Does anybody feel the same as me that we may be getting bland and boring from these firms since anything generated by these firms to the opposite – exciting and spectacular, can’t make it past the city regulators?

  9. Here is my comment as posted on Curbed SF this morning:
    After the initial reviews of all entries, I must say I am not impressed. It makes me wonder if these development teams take this project seriously. I understand that a lot of legwork has been done in terms of setting of teams—there is a lot more to master planning than just pretty pictures and concepts—however it would have helped if each of these teams spent as much time in conceptual development as they did organizing project teams.
    I’m conflicted, one of the worst proposals, I believe, organized one of the best design teams. Build Group’s proposal hands down lacks interest. Their proposal lists: Jim Jennings, Stanley Saitowitz and Peter Pfau as the architecture team and CMG on board as the landscape designers. I would be very excited to see the product that would be produced from this team. Federal Development’s proposal and team simply scares me. The product of the architecture team CY Lee and Patri Merker would be enough to make me want to move out of the bay area. It’s bad enough we have to gaze at the eye sore Patri Merker has put on our skyline (the Interncontinental)–I would hate to have more of those accompanied by a Taipei 101.
    I didn’t see an architecture group listed with Kenwood Investment’s proposal but with the combination of Walter Hood, CMG, and Ned Kahn-I believe would create interesting public spaces. If only the architects would take cue from the proposed talent of the landscape team. The Giants seem to have the most thought out proposal (their conceptual design may have come from an intern, instead of the 2nd year design students the other development teams hired). However their architectural team seems to lack design talent…but the folding planes I’m sure Hargreaves will produce still beats the generic landscraping of the Guzzardo Partnership.

  10. I am a high rise lover, but that last entry scares the hell out of me! Looks like 3 tombstones casting depressing shadows over all of the green space. Surely we can do better than that! I really like Giants proposal best, and should be chosen, as all of the others look like there is no effort, and I love the possibility of a world class outdoor and indoor performance space with the best views in the world!! Mission Bay plays it safe a lot, but overall, I really admire its cleanliness and quick transportation.

  11. Where can I find more detail on the public workshop this weekend? Is there a website I can check this out?
    Please help.
    [Editor’s Note: At the risk of enabling your habit: the workshop agenda. As an aside, always check the footnotes first (see “Development Concepts for China Basin SWL 337” link above). And as always, thank you for plugging in.]

  12. “…Mission Bay plays it safe a lot, but overall, I really admire its cleanliness…”
    This is undoubtedly true. Mission Bay – so far, at least – has been spared the fate of so many SF neighborhoods where people simply dump their household junk and trash on the sidewalk. I can’t begin to fathom why so many people think it’s OK to trash their own neighborhood, but at least in Mission Bay that’s not been a problem.

  13. Is this Manhattanization? Check out the top left and bottom right illustrations. Looks like the south end of that island to me. Creepy.

  14. well, i wish folks would pay as much attention to the content of the proposals (the “program”) as they do to style and eyewash. not that urban design doesn’t matter, but the content – what will happen there – is crucial to the local neighborhood and the City. without naming names …
    they all include condos, offices, ballpark parking, and some retail.
    only two include renovation and use of the adjacent vacant Pier 38.
    only two propose a decent sized new park.
    only one includes a new convention/event facility for the City (Moscone Center is full and the Concourse will be torn down pretty soon). another has some kind of undefined “civic space.”
    only one includes a modern large performance theater for the City (the Civic Auditorium is obsolete).
    they all have some kinds of neat ideas, like an arts something or a green something, that is not quite so specific.
    anyway, to cut to the chase, the Federal and Kenwood proposals are DOA. so it comes down to the Giants vs. Build Inc.

  15. Funny how only two weeks ago, when the Giants proposal was the only one available, people were complaining about the lack of parking (without reading that parking would be underground the development). Now, people have changed focus and are complaining about the aesthetics of the other proposals. This is clear proof that people on this site are overcritical and will complain just for sport.

  16. i’ve always thought the giants proposal was great, even at first glance. I’m sure it will be perfected over time, hopefully with more wow factor.

  17. Amazingly uninspired design all around. I agree with MissionBayOwner’s being torn by the team with the best design talent having one of the worst looking designs, Build Inc. (just ahead of the ‘towers in the park’ timewarp scheme). I think its a perfect case of too many chefs (hands/egos) spoiling the soup. There needs to be and deserves to be ONE great lead architect/urban designer for a project of this scope — and as far as can be ascertained from all this mediocrity we’re presented with, there wasn’t and won’t be. It couldn’t be a sadder outcome for such an important site as this.

  18. as usual, San Franciscans won’t agree on anything just for the sake of disagreement. when our freeways were damaged in the earthquake, it took us over 9 years just to come to the table. LA, bless its over tanned heart and soul had their roads back up in 9 months.
    large concrete buildings are indeed “soulless”, however, they are more earthquake proof, and can be surrounded by green areas with compromise. lets worry more about the charm of our established neighborhoods, and get some of the blight of our potentially beautiful city cleaned up. I am embarrassed when guests come from out of town and our city is not what it could be…weeds everywhere, trash…so many buildings in disrepair, we might as well be Cleveland…except have you been to Cleveland lately?
    yes, we have more freedom here, but we seem to be obsessed with the freedom of being dilettantes instead of relearning the concept of compromise. for every large, earthquake building, lets extract more “less than market rate housing” for our service providers, etc., some green space, trees,views and call it a day. in a hundred years, what will be remembered that we did now?

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