The proposed expansion and improvement of San Francisco’s Ferry Terminal includes three new berthing facilities, new covered passenger queuing areas, and a new public Embarcadero Plaza located between the Ferry and Agriculture buildings, infilling the existing lagoon (click to enlarge).

San Francisco’s Historic Preservation Commission (HPC) will hold a public meeting on the project and provide their comments on the proposed Ferry Terminal project this afternoon.

The HPC is slated to generally support the designs for the new Embarcadero Plaza and berthing facilities, but they’re not too keen on the proposed photovoltaic canopies, questioning their function, efficiency, and visual fit with the Ferry Building.


The Commission’s reaction and draft response to the proposed canopies, a position which should be formalized this afternoon:

The HPC concurs with the recommendations to refine the design of the new canopies and eliminate the canopy extending in front of the north façade of the Ferry Building. Overall, the HPC finds that the design of the new canopies should be refined to better relate to the adjacent historic resources and the surrounding historic district.

Specifically, the HPC questioned the function and efficiency of the new photovoltaic panels on the canopies given their location and orientation. Further, the HPC found that the new canopy design would not appear to sufficiently shield passengers from wind and rain, due to the current design’s height and upslope.

In addition, the HPC commented on the number of canopies and their impact upon the view of the Ferry Building and the San Francisco Bay. The HPC questioned the number of varying design expressions introduced into the area, which would be caused by the new photovoltaic canopies in combination with the existing East Bayside Promenade, entry portals to the new berthing facilities, and other existing site elements.

The HPC also requested additional information on the queue time for the various ferry terminals and the justification for permanent canopies. The HPC questioned whether the destinations with longer queues could be moved to one of the other berthing facilities with longer canopy elements. Ultimately, the HPC found that the current design is not compatible with the surrounding historic resources, and would impact the visual setting of the Ferry Building.

With seven new routes and ferry service from downtown San Francisco to Berkeley, Richmond, Treasure Island, Hercules, Martinez, Antioch and Redwood City planed to be introduced between 2014 and 2030, San Francisco’s ferry terminal will serve a projected 32,000 riders per weekday by 2035, up from around 10,000 passengers across six ferry routes today.

Comments from Plugged-In Readers

  1. Posted by fred

    Any increase in the available space or amenities for visitors to the Ferry Building are welcome. The place is bursting at the seams and really is overcrowded at times.

  2. Posted by Futurist

    Good solution. Clean up the building clutter that now exists near the terminal.

  3. Posted by Joel

    “The HPC questioned the function and efficiency of the new photovoltaic panels on the canopies given their location and orientation. Further, the HPC found that the new canopy design would not appear to sufficiently shield passengers from wind and rain, due to the current design’s height and upslope.”
    Where was the HPC when Muni decided to replace its bus shelters?

  4. Posted by Wai Yip Tung

    Again I think only the Treasure Island route is financially viable. Why on earth do we want add ferry to Hercules? I wonder if there any publicly available financial and ridership figure for the Vallejo route? The round trip far is $24! Even at this fare it is probably heavily subsidized.

  5. Posted by 4Oceans

    $24 bucks? Small price to pay to spend day or have lunch in Hercules. Hercules? Is that in Greece?

  6. Posted by Can't think of cool name

    And no support for the planned water taxis? Don’t understand why you wouldn’t have a connecting water taxi stop here. Anybody?

  7. Posted by S

    those cities do not have BART so those ferries may be helpful to commuters coming into The City…

  8. Posted by Rillion

    Well if you were going to use the Vallejo-SF ferry to get to work every day, the monthly pass is $290, which if used 20 days a month, would be $14.50 a day. That is pretty competitve on price compared to driving when you consider it’s about 2 gallons of gas (@ ~30mpg) plus two bridge tolls.
    I’d imagine that the heavy users are getting subsidized but that a one-way ticket ($13) or one day pass ($24) are much closer to cost.

  9. Posted by good christian

    thank you, Joel.

  10. Posted by gilded ferry

    Have they ceased touting the proposed new ferry lines that would duplicate much cheaper BART service?

  11. Posted by James

    Duplicating BART service during commute hours when the transbay tube is at capacity sounds like a pretty good idea to me.

  12. Posted by citicritter

    Why with all this effort to upgrade the Ferry Bldg surroundings, does it appear the dismal 70s building out on tip of the pier by the Bay seems untouched?
    That building, including its interior and variously failed restaurants/etc, needs to be seriously renovated (if not demo’d). I know, the building has a Bart tube ventilator within it, but still…
    Plus, the waters edge walkway around that building is a dilapidated, urine soaked mess…

  13. Posted by BobN

    With the HPC’s attitudes about “context”, all those great examples of historic buildings juxtaposed with modern facilities that one finds all over Europe just wouldn’t be allowed.
    It’s ridiculous. It’s not their job to analyze wind (though it should be someone’s job).

  14. Posted by Friscan

    I understand constraints of current facilities are a major obstacle keeping SF from approaching ferry ridership numbers, %, as seen in Seattle and Vancouver. As BART capacity reaches its own limits, this network could give daily relief … We certainly know the value of the ferries very time BART goes on strike.

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