Gallery: San Francisco to Turn Old Limo Terminal Into a Sea Lion-Friend...

Image © Hyphae Design Laboratory
Hyphae Design Laboratory's investigative approach to architecture challenges the green infrastructure paradigm--and it fits with Architecture and the City's 2011 festival theme, 'Architecture of Consequence'.

The biologically sound wetland remediation project at Pier 27 demonstrates the port’s commitment to the stewardship of waterfront historic resources. The project also has the potential to be a harbinger of reinvention along the San Francisco’s waterfront corridor.

Development of the terminal was spurred by a need to increase shoreside infrastructure for larger maritime vessels. While under construction, the existing Pier 27 maritime shed will be demolished, opening up the site for a new 88,000 square foot, two-level cruise terminal facility.

The expansive Northeast Wharf Plaza will meet provisioning and passenger loading needs of the cruise terminal. It will also serve as a pleasant space for public recreation. Proposed features include a waterfall (similar to Yerba Buena Gardens), a range of colors and patterns adorning the pavement, trees to double as wind breaks, and food trucks (such as Fort Mason). The park will also reward the public with an inside look at stormwater capture systems and wastewater treatment facilities incorporated into the new development.

Preexisting infrastructural constraints and the Bay’s windy climate inform each new feature. For example, a mobile overhead gangway and raised passenger loading dock will enhance panoramic vistas, block wind, and reinforce the platform’s structural integrity.

Dredge harvest missions make up the main portion of bio-remediation, and will reveal the legacy of decades of waterfront development and uncover the environmental impact of local industrial activity. Dredging, which is often associated with creating a disturbance in aquatic systems will, in this case, replenish areas where too sand much has been lost due to coastal erosion.

The design also includes a “Peel and Reveal” function that will expose the underwater habitat and simultaneously increase awareness about the maritime district‘s historic and contemporary environmental context. A variety of low impact development water infrastructure systems including greywater and rainwater catchment systems will minimize the environmental impact of the new terminal and may encourage visitors to consider the intricacies of our relationship with local ecosystems.

The team addressed site-specific problems with the support of local environmental and water conservation organizations like Aquarium of the Bay, the Exploratorium, San Francisco Baykeeper, Save the Bay, the California Coastal Conservancy, and the Estuary Program.

Overall, the plan promises to provide local economic vitality and educational opportunities along the pier. And during times when the cruise terminal is not in commercial use, it is expected to thrive as a special event destination.

Hyphae Design Laboratory’s investigative approach to architecture challenges the green infrastructure paradigm — and it fits with Architecture and the City’s 2011 festival theme, ‘Architecture of Consequence’.

Construction will begin in January of 2012 and the new facility and will be completed the following year, just in time for America’s Cup, which is expected to attract hundreds of thousands of spectators and sailing aficionados to the San Francisco Bay Area.

+ Hyphae Design Laboratory

+ GOOD Design

+ Architecture and the City Festival 2011


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  1. Allison Leahy November 6, 2011 at 4:09 pm

    Hi Juan, thanks for your thoughts!

    While this project won’t be cheap, the shared-use facility will benefit the public and promises to become a beautiful symbol of how green infrastructure promotes better stewardship of San Francisco’s resources.

    PS-I love the solar cooking demos on

  2. Green Joy November 4, 2011 at 4:53 pm

    While people may argue that these types of projects serve nothing more than money sinks, there are so many advantages to them. Firstly, you’re making jobs, even if they’re temporary. One of the biggest advantages of this project is that it aims for a more natural area, allowing the local wildlife to regain some habitats. The area is also being developed allowing the community a place to come together and strengthen social ties. All in all a great project. Thanks for writing the article!

    Juan Miguel Ruiz (

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