Studio Gang. Henning Larsen. WorkAC. In San Francisco’s Mission Bay, a team of internationally renowned architects is reshaping a 28-acre stretch of the waterfront into a dense, mixed-use urban neighbourhood. Masterplanned by Pekins&Will and led by the MLB’s San Francisco Giants — whose stadium, Oracle Park, sits directly across Mission Creek Channel — the nascent Mission Rock district recently inaugurated the opening of its first major project, a striking residential tower by Rotterdam-based designers
Playfully dubbed The Canyon, the structure is immediately recognizable for its pixelated red-brown facade, which signals a pedestrian space that weaves through the heart of the site. Capped by a 23-storey tower at its western edge, the project comprises a five-storey podium structure with an elevated mid-block public walkway. Inspired by California’s natural rock formations, the ruggedly sculpted form evokes a geological setting — a sensibility shared by the firm’s
“With our design we introduce a feeling of topography to make the building very much connected to its location”, says 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.”
Alongside street-level retail and two floors (and 5,400 square meters) of office space, the 34,900-square-metre development features 283 homes, including 102 apartments rented at below market rates. Intended for middle-income families, the rental suites were assigned via a lottery, and welcomed their first residents in June. As de Vries puts it, “It’s a neighbourhood that will be accessible to the city’s nurses, teachers… and other essential workers that keep the city running.”
The site’s close proximity to San Francisco Bay also allowed for a water exchange system, which channels bay water to both heat and cool the building. Thanks to a cohesive masterplan, the low-carbon mechanism — which is housed within the canyon — will extend to neighbouring properties. Additional integrated critical infrastructure is also shared between the area’s properties, with an adjacent development (designed by WorkAC) set to house a recycling plant that will process black water from the neighbourhood for reuse.
For MVRDV, The Canyon is an inaugural west coast project. Coming on the heels of New York City’s