South San Francisco, California, USA
The HASSELL ‘Collect & Connect – Resilient South City’ proposal for South San Francisco is part of the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge.
This year-long program combined the creativity, knowledge and experience of residents, public officials and local, national and international design experts.
The proposal tackles the challenges of climate change and ecological disaster around San Francisco Bay. The team developed a “collect and connect” toolkit to proposed sites in South San Francisco.
The project was awarded with the 2020 International Architecture Award from The Chicago Athenaeum and The European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies.
The brief was to develop inventive, community-based solutions to sea-level rise, severe storms, flooding, and earthquakes.
Located in San Mateo County, South San Francisco is the bay’s self-proclaimed “industrial city.” Major freeways and rail lines link the city to the region, but also divide the city.
Parts of the community suffer from flooding, and their historic access to the shoreline is blocked by infrastructure and industry. And, like the entire Bay Area, the county is at risk from sea-level rise and seismic events.
The overarching “Collect & Connect” strategy proposes a responsive network where creeks and streets are redesigned as green linear corridors for water management and community gathering, transforming the regional structure from a vulnerable loop into a connected and resilient network.
To ensure the “South City” proposal truly reflects local needs and aspirations, the design team drew heavily from community voices, transforming a local bank, that had been vacant for decades, into a community meeting place, design hub, education centre, and display space.
Through community engagement, research, and an inclusive design process, the architects mapped-out a range of ways to make “South City” stronger, as an exemplar of resilience for the Bay Area.
Opportunity sites were identified across the Colma Creek watershed and redesigned to form a practical master plan and dynamic network of public places that support South City’s people and environment.
A wider, greener creek manages flooding and creates the right conditions for a sequence of parks;
A South City Circle Bridge serves as a walking and cycling gateway to all transport modes, making a bold statement about community priorities;
An “eco-waterpark” at a revamped water plant becomes a teaching tool and natural shoreline swimming pool;
A native plant nursery helps control flooding and treats runoff from the nearby highway to improve the quality of water flowing into the creek and bay;
A “living levee” forms a wetland for restoring habitat and holding stormwater in extremely high tides;
Schools located on higher ground become hubs for water treatment and community recreation.
Together, these ideas make it easier to reach and enjoy the local creek and bay, reduce the impacts of flooding, build resilience to sea-level rise, and return native flora and fauna to the area.
Just as importantly, they make a healthy, active life near the water easier to imagine and achieve.
Ultimately, the Bay Area Challenge has served as a call-to-action for the region to continue to work together and move the cause forward. And this proposal is helping to lead the way.
The proposal was recognized for its “pragmatic and convincing focus on neighborhood-level interventions from the mountain to the bay.”
“Our team’s ‘Collect & Connect’ strategy proposes a resilient, responsive network where creeks and streets could be transformed into linear corridors of water management and community gathering to transform the regional structure from a vulnerable loop into a resilient network,” states Richard Mullane, Principal at San Francisco’s HASSELL.
“We drew heavily from community voices to ensure the proposal truly reflects local needs and aspirations – transforming the old bank on Grand Avenue, that had been vacant for decades, into a community meeting place, design hub, education centre and display space.”
Project: “Collect and Connect – Resilient South City”
Architecture/Historic Research: Page & Turnbull
Client: Greenbelt Alliance