Treasure Island lies in the middle of San Francisco Bay, visible to the left of the Bay Bridge as it crosses from San Francisco to Oakland. Abutting hilly Yerba Buena Island, Treasure Island is a man-made island and former naval base created in the 1930s from dredged bay mud and sand. In 2000, plans were announced to redevelop Treasure Island from a dumpy former military base with sensational views of San Francisco into a model sustainable residential community only a ferry ride away from downtown. The San Francisco Board of Supervisors recently unanimously approved a planned $1.5 billion green redevelopment plan for the island, after the San Francisco Planning Commission green-lighted the environmental review earlier this spring. The vote went forward despite blowback from environmental organizations such as the Sierra Club, due to concerns over increased vehicular traffic and potential tsunami risks, as well as community concerns over affordable housing.
The plans for Treasure Island entail a massive population shift for the tiny island – from around 2,000 to more than 19,000 residents. The concept for a sustainable urban community includes multiple units of housing, an artificial wetland area integrated with water treatment, wind power, recreation and gardening areas, a marina, and a small shopping district. Skidmore, Owings + Merrill head up the design team along with Perkins + Will and Conger Moss Guillard. Some of the original naval structures will remain intact, notably the Treasure Island Administrative building. Originally built in the 1930s for the Golden Gate International Exposition, the impressive white structure stood in for the Berlin airport in the film Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade.
Since Treasure Island and Yerba Buena Island fall under the jurisdiction of the city and county of San Francisco, the project is a collaboration between a San Francisco redevelopment board and a private development team. As a man-made former military base in a sensitive ecological region, the Treasure Island redevelopment also must contend with multiple stakeholders from wetland commissions to the Navy and housing agencies.