November 13, 2012

Parking Garages: The Unlikely Role Models Of Mission Bay Design?

UCSF%20Mission%20Bay%20Medical%20Center%20Parking%20Garage.jpg

Speaking of parking, from John King with respect to San Francisco’s newest parking structure, the 627-space Mission Bay garage designed by WRNS Studio at 16th and Owens which will serve the UCSF Mission Bay Medical Center which is slated to open in 2015:

Traditionalists will recoil at a 10-story cube wrapped in silvery rows of teardrop-shaped aluminum blades lined up so that the rows are solid from some perspectives and see-through from others. San Franciscans who loathe private automobiles will question why another parking garage should even exist.
But there's kinetic beauty in a structure that's designed to be glimpsed on the move, or out of the corner of your eye, and to shift in tone the next time you look. It taps into a basic truth - that smart buildings fuse the reality of what they do with the potential of where they are.

Noting that "a garage, or any other sizable structure, also has a role to play in the larger city," King adds, "when you see this one rise to the challenge, you wonder why other buildings in this part of Mission Bay can't strike a wide positive note as well."

And as an aside, we have an update on the Mission Bay bagpiper.

Mission Bay garage's architectural edge [SFGate]
The Building Of UCSF’s New Mission Bay Medical Center Is Underway [SocketSite]
The Daytime Downside To The Development Of Mission Bay [SocketSite]

First Published: November 13, 2012 7:30 AM

Comments from "Plugged In" Readers

gag
Mission Bay will never be an interesting urban place precisely because every other block is a parking garage. No amount of architectural pizzaz will change that. It's a drive-in-drive-out kind of place. Suburbs on steroids.

Posted by: hmmm at November 13, 2012 9:08 AM

Looks like a Stanley Saitowitz condo building to me.

Posted by: Greg at November 13, 2012 9:35 AM

how dare they build a garage in bicycle centric san francisco! do people still drive cars?

Posted by: anon$random at November 13, 2012 9:39 AM

I hope someday real buildings will surround and cover these scantily clad warehouses for cars or labs. Meanwhile we will have to endure a parade of skin treatments on deadly boxes which are altogether lacking in how they contribute to the city.

Posted by: Pietro at November 13, 2012 10:02 AM

I love it. But then I am often in disagreement with Socketsite commenters.

Posted by: Oceangoer at November 13, 2012 10:23 AM

I certainly understand the need for parking around the school and hospital, but it does seem like every other block is a garage with no surface retail or other uses. Makes for a pretty terrible streetscape, hence the complete deadzone for pedestrians that exists pretty much everywhere around the area.

Posted by: anon at November 13, 2012 10:32 AM

I love it too. There is another parking structure I like over there as well. "deadly boxes"? "lacking in how they contribute"? They park cars that bring people to the area. The parking is needed, might as well make it nice.

This is the area where some people want the Warrior to go. That will require even more parking structures.

Posted by: sparky*b at November 13, 2012 10:34 AM

It's nice for a parking garage, but that's a pretty low bar.

I wonder how much it cost to build this garage... do they spend the same amount on upgrading transit?

Posted by: lyqwyd at November 13, 2012 10:42 AM

The 3 most exciting buildings at Mission Bay are the garages (this and the other designed by the same firm) and the Rec Center.

I wish SalesForce hadn't backed out of their Mission Bay campus. The design looked terrific.

Posted by: dissent at November 13, 2012 10:46 AM

Agreed that parking is important for UCSF (particularly the hospital). But I agree that parking garages in general are too prominent in Mission Bay. Seeing a huge parking garage right on 3rd Street...the main transit corridor, is exactly the wrong message. And I agree that not enough thought was given to making sure the ground floors are active.

Lots of missed opportunities in Mission Bay. I'm still doubtful that 4th Street will ever be the retail/pedestrian core the plan projects.

Posted by: curmudgeon at November 13, 2012 10:52 AM

Something's wrong with a neighborhood when the most interesting building there is a parking garage.

Posted by: g at November 13, 2012 11:01 AM

More carz!!! More hurricanez!!! More global warming!!! Moreeeee!

Posted by: sf at November 13, 2012 11:23 AM

Mission Bay should have at least one main street with life and restaurants and maybe even a couple of bars. Otherwise, it's fine and it allows for companies to come to the city that otherwise wouldn't be here. Which makes my life easier.

But what should a commercial area like Mission Bay look like, if not what it is? Companies and research centers throw conferences and have guests from the South Bay and the rest of the world. Hospitals will always need parking too. And while I love the idea of street level retail, the reality is that mission bay was always going to be mostly an 8-6 area. That's just the nature of a commercial area - even the financial district is mostly dead after work hours.

I work in the Dog Patch and live in SoMa. Most days, when it's not raining, I bike to work and when I take the long route home, I start at the old American Can Company building and head out towards the Ramp and the old docks. Then I cut in and go through mission bay and UCSF, often crossing the channel at 4th st and then taking the promenade along the water to 7th, which I then take through SoMa and ultimately I turn back towards the low numbered streets at mission, near the federal building, and bike through a couple of blocks of urban hell before getting home.

The point is that within 3 miles I've seen almost every type of neighborhood and biked through neighborhoods of many socioeconomic groups. And that's why I live here. That mission bay isn't the mission or pac heights or the financial district is exactly the point. We have those already and so we don't need them. Yes it could be better, but it's better than a driving range.

Also, the garage is damn cool. And in the genre of building that mission bay requires, we are getting a few interesting ones.

Posted by: frog at November 13, 2012 11:27 AM

I don't mind this garage, after all we are talking about a structure designed for non-occupancy use in conjunction with a hospital. This particular are of town was never going to be a truly walkable area anyways given the industrial buffer around it. This is not Pacific Heights with CPMC cut into it, and even if Salesforce had stuck around, their campus was not going to be an active foot traffic zone once the work day ended with most people likely funneling into the nearby established food/drink areas of South Beach, Potrero Hill (18th St), and growing presence of Dogpatch.

So while a garage will never boast a huge amount of character, if you must bedazzle a building i'd say this isn't bad. Of course the real question will be what traffic solution they come up with for the Mariposa offramp when you suddenly have a few thousand workers and patients trying to get to that garage.

Posted by: RobSF at November 13, 2012 11:31 AM

Major yawn. Then again nothing built in Mission Bay has kept me awake for the past 6 years. I wonder how much of it will border the equally as boring Western SOMA initiative.

So much potential on hard to come by large parcels on land, but squandered in design and development. It's a suburban office park minus the strip mall. Third St. should be the mecca of commercial and retail activity, but as someone pointed out MB is designed for people to drive in and drive out, a design that requires the bare minimum of retail/commercial life. It's even more dire for people who rely on MUNI because they have to shlepp either on the 22 to Potrero or the T all the way to downtown and beyond (unless your can get everything done at Safeway on King St.).

Posted by: Mark at November 13, 2012 11:35 AM

I would like to hear more of frog's self importance. Please go on.

Posted by: sf at November 13, 2012 1:25 PM

@RobSF's "bedazzle" comment

LOL!!! You just made my day. Bravo!

Posted by: sf at November 13, 2012 1:27 PM

Very cool: elegant, artful cladding of a much needed building type in Mission Bay.

Posted by: futurist at November 13, 2012 1:52 PM

SF,

If that's the case, I do feel I'm pretty great and I'll enumerate the reasons.

(Joking!!!!)

Time to step away from the computer and get a tea.

Posted by: frog at November 13, 2012 2:17 PM

Great design on the outside. Any pictures of the inside? Are the parking spaces substantial? Has anyone ever tried parking at UCSF's Parnassus campus? The spaces are tiny making it challenging to park anything other than a Smart Car, Mini, Fiat 500 etc.

Posted by: Willow at November 13, 2012 2:23 PM

I drive by this garage everyday. These photos make it look better than it is. It's really not a very attractive building. The concept is there but the execution in the UCSF brown tones effectively makes it look like a giant air filter.

Perhaps if they chose a different color, the outcome would have been more attractive.

I agree with most of John King's article, but not this one.

Posted by: ncyder at November 13, 2012 11:52 PM

"Mission Bay"? Hah! It's more like "East Berlin". BORING.

Mission Bay is one of the least architecturally interesting areas in the SF Bay Area. Could they have picked less interesting architects? Doubtful. The whole area seems like it was designed only with a ruler and a basic color palette. Boring.

Posted by: Gregg at November 14, 2012 2:33 PM

No @ ncyder: perhaps if they chose a different color YOU would like it.

That's the crux of this whole constant whining about design and liking something or not liking something. Any given design on any given site by any given architect will never satisfy everyone.

And guess what? That's not the role of architecture: to satisfy every single little nuance of taste.

I think the garage is well designed and works well. And the buildings being designed there are by some of the best in SF. The work is contemporary, off with strict budgets and strong functional requirements.

I wish more comments here would talk about what makes good architecture and why they like or dislike something...besides the color.

Posted by: futurist at November 15, 2012 12:23 PM

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