September 4, 2013
The Five Winning Designs For Reimagining Highway 280 In SF
The winners of the design competition to rethink the use of the space currently occupied by Highway 280 north of 16th Street in San Francisco have been selected. The five winning teams, concepts and designs, click any of the renderings to enlarge:
1. Seismic Harvest: "Historically in San Francisco, demolishing freeways comes in the political and emotional aftermath of an earthquake. Through the community garden, commercial organic farm, and waterfront development, D.IS.H created Seismic Harvest to integrate earthquake simulators re-imagined as harvesting systems. The master plan redefines the city’s history with removing freeways to harvest a new community."
The jury awarded the Seismic Harvest scheme its Special Recognition, calling it "fun, clever and quirky" and noting that it puts a positive spin on the earthquake.
2. ARC DE DEFE[E]T: "ARC DE DEFE[E]T, by Academy of Art University graduate students Jonathan Bradley and Ye Bao, creates demand for bikes by giving them away to the people that choose to park their automobiles at one of the existing parking structures of Mission Bay. With the growing demand for a healthier environment and the growing production of automobiles to facilitate the world’s population transportation needs, 280 highway is a perfect building typology to subvert our dependence on the automobile."
The jury was very impressed with the graphics of the ARC DE DEFE[E]T entry as well as its sensitivity in the creation of a landscape from post infrastructural resources.
3. FIELDSHIFT: "In Fieldshift, by students Erik Jensen and Justin Richardson, the field challenges spreading, high-end exclusionary development and prioritizes affordability in its surrounding neighborhoods. A localized honest adaptation of the scar alongside an at-grade approach to the city center, via rail, minimizes absorbed real estate costs. This maximizes the city’s ability to retain public land for housing in the parcels outside the domain of the chosen site."
The jurors thought Fieldshift looked like "an epic art installation but with thoughtful analysis," considering the experience of drivers exiting the freeway.
4. HIGHLINK: "With Highlink, Brian Vargo envisions the existing structure of a highway overpass as a vibrant pedestrian promenade. From ‘highway’ to ‘highlink,’ the project reconnects Mission Bay to the city, adds value to its greater surroundings, and practices the progressive sustainability that gives San Francisco its unique identity."
The jury thought this was an elegant reinterpretation of Manhattan’s Highline project but with a San Francisco twist, managing to preserve and remember a small piece of the freeway while allowing the other space to become what is best for the area.
5. SALT SAND SIEVE: "Katherine Jenkins and Parker Sutton’s Salt Sand Sieve proposes a field of urban dunes to generate a porous and ecologically diverse shoreline and to establish a sensory landscape informed by the meter of the highway and the forces of the Bay."
The jury was deeply impressed with the Salt Sand Sieve team's research and investigation into historic infrastructure and repurposing of it in an ecological manner.
∙ A Bold Plan To Tear Down I-280 North Of 16th Street In San Francisco [SocketSite]
∙ A Competition To Rethink The Space Beneath Highway 280 [SocketSite]
∙ 280 Freeway Competition Winners [cadsf.org]
First Published: September 4, 2013 2:45 PM
Comments from "Plugged In" Readers
"With the growing demand for a healthier environment and the growing production of automobiles to facilitate the world’s population transportation needs, 280 highway is a perfect building typology to subvert our dependence on the automobile. Working from the simple principal generated from the economic success of the musical group The Grateful Dead: “The best way to create demand for your product is to give it away.” -Jerry Garcia"
Posted by: Speechless at September 4, 2013 2:57 PM
I thought the point was to take it down.
Posted by: Steve at September 4, 2013 3:18 PM
What else ya got?
Posted by: RySF at September 4, 2013 3:26 PM
And exactly how do these accommodate predicted traffic capacity needs, or cover the costs of demolition and construction of the Caltrain extension/HSR subway to the new Transbay Terminal by generating the revenue from leasing the air rights over the right of way while also finding and - again: funding - relocation of Caltrain's yard in somebody else backyard?
Or was this solely about pretty pictures of things that will never get built?
Posted by: Jamison Wieser at September 4, 2013 3:34 PM
April Fool's Day a bit early perhaps?
Now really. I give them props for creativity, but just like 99.99% of runway fashions, they are completely nonsensical. #3 looks like something out of Beyond Thunderdome with a HUGE homeless camp in the making.
Posted by: Mark at September 4, 2013 3:36 PM
All entries seem uninspiring fantasies to me. The idea is to remove the freeway to allow tunneling of high speed rail underground. What's the point of building a garden on the abandoned freeway???
Posted by: Wai Yip Tung at September 4, 2013 3:37 PM
Wow. There is some High Theory underlying all of these proposals. In the real world, however, none of them will work.
The fatal flaw in all of them, whether they propose to repurpose the 280 deck as an "urban waterfront and marsh ecosystem", an urban gardening site, a public park, or a site for intra-city dunes, or whatever else these ivory tower dreamers come up with, is that they fail to take into account the fact that the hard-core homeless already in the area will gravitate to and take over the site. Untreated schizophrenics and drug addicts will wreak havoc in any nicely landscaped area. Refuges for wildlife? More like outdoor niches for heroin and crystal meth addicts to shoot up and smoke out of direct view.
Can't have nice things in a progressive city like San Francisco.
Posted by: Brahma (incensed renter) at September 4, 2013 3:53 PM
What the design competition’s organizers, the Center for Architecture + Design, previously said: "The tradition of removing freeways is not a new one for our city– two neighborhoods, the Embarcadero and Hayes Valley, have enjoyed a renaissance through freeway demolition that healed scarred communities."
...and then THESE are the winners they picked?
What a joke, calling out Hayes Valley and the Embarcadero and then selecting these ridiculous, impractical, and not even attractive candidates to win this competition.
Posted by: Lun Esex at September 4, 2013 4:02 PM
Or we could just leave it as is and let cars drive on it.
Posted by: SFMichael at September 4, 2013 4:22 PM
Of course we need a giant urban garden in the middle of the city. That makes much more sense than farming the million or so square miles in the middle of this country that are actually good for farming.
Urban farming is more of a cultural exchange between the city and the country than something that makes sense. I can't imagine bringing dirt and fertilizer into a city to make small quantities of produce is in any way efficient or sustainable.
And then there's the urban sand dunes?
These types of projects tend to highlight current belief structures amongst non-technical types. And if this is the best they can do, it's downright depressing. A couple more awards for work like this and one of these people is going to propose turning Alcatraz into a global peace center or something.
Posted by: frog at September 4, 2013 4:37 PM
Yes, as an architect, I'm kind of embarrassed like others. Sure these are whimsical, fantasy, full of bs schemes, but I'd really rather see some reality. Competitions often bring out radical ideas, some workable, some off in the land of Oz.
Wasn't the big idea of really REMOVING the damn freeway and putting traffic in a depressed area? and creating some great green belts, walkways, bikeways, parks?
Some people just have too much time on their hands, and not enough on the pulse of real life.
Posted by: Futurist at September 4, 2013 4:40 PM
Though I travel on it daily, I'd really like to see the elimination of that community barrier and eyesore that is 280 North of Mariposa. I really fear that praising ridiculous design submissions like these will reduce the likelihood of that happening.
Posted by: Rick Alber at September 4, 2013 5:24 PM
Why is there so much hatred for 280 in its current form? I work near it and don't find it particularly offensive. It's a great way for people to get to the ballpark or union square and I'm not exactly sure which communities are being divided.
Posted by: frog at September 4, 2013 5:46 PM
I love driving that part of 280! Keep it!
Posted by: Mon at September 4, 2013 5:50 PM
I am getting tired of the anti-car thing. Bike traffic counters, parklets, parkmobiles, bike rentals, pedestrian bulbs, "smart" bus routes, and now tearing down 280 freeway fantasies. I am beginning to feel like I am in a transit planning university degree program.
Could we have some good old fashioned Presidio Heights real estate porn please? You know, homes with mud rooms that will never see mud, expensive commercial stoves that will never be used, and flames coming out of gravel lined backyard borders that will never be turned on. We're in a bubble, so let's enjoy it!
Posted by: jeffB at September 4, 2013 6:30 PM
Once again, fantasy takes over reality.
Tearing down 280 is a transportation concern. If you're gonna tear down 280 at least replace it with something that serves a better purpose. However, let's be real about it since we're dealing with SF politics. HSR/Caltrain will not run under this area because HSR will never be built and Caltrain will never be extended to the TTC. What will happen is that 280 will be cut back to 16th St. (with ribbon cutting ceremony), traffic will flow onto surface streets, and low-to-mid rise condos will be built where the freeway once stood. Maybe a gratuitous 1/4 acre "park" will be thrown in, but that's pretty much going to be the outcome.
Posted by: Mark at September 4, 2013 6:51 PM
So if the freeway wasn't there the land woud, be more valuable. Ok. I can get that.
At some point, cars need to be allowed into the city. I am a little sick of the whole anitcar sentiment. Me and my italian v10 do a lot to stimulate the local economy when I choose to leave the gti at home.
Eliminating it north of 16th. Sixteenth! That's going to shift the sixth street off ramp bottleneck back a ways.
If this goes down, it will be miserable to get into downtown via freeway.
All of these projects should be renamed clusterfu(k.
This is nothing other than feelers for an ill conceived land grab, and if it comes to pass it will adversely impact Downtown traffic and access.
Posted by: BIllyBalls at September 4, 2013 7:50 PM
What an fantastic project and what a wonderful web site for bringing it to my attention!! My great aunt used to marvel about all of the construction this required in the 1960's. Such a different world then.
How exciting to have a real architect's opinion too, Mr. "Futurist"! How can we make this situation better? What was your submission proposal? Can we create some bus lanes perhaps? I wish we could all share our cars a little more and just reduce the number of lanes. Are they going to take away the CalTrains? I sure hope not since I'm not driving anymore!
"It only takes 17 muscles to smile!"
Posted by: nancy at September 4, 2013 8:02 PM
Oh, Nancy. So much I could say to you. Not doing a submission does not invalidate my opinions. Nor others. Nor yours.
It was perhaps a fun, fantastical view of nirvana. Perhaps some of the ideas, or at least the spirit, will come to fruition.
But reality speaks loudly. the freeway does serve a purpose to thousands of people per day. It is how we navigate in our large cities, in and out. I know the bike people really do believe that eventually ALL cars will be obsolete and we will all, happily, ride our bikes everywhere. They can have their fantasy.
The city and the freeways and streets must serve everyone. Maybe someday, an urban parkway over a depressed freeway will happen. It is possible.
Until now, we must work with what we have, figure out how to pay for all of these urban changes, and live the best we can.
By walking, biking, public transit and driving.
Posted by: Futurist at September 4, 2013 8:32 PM
keep the freeway. its a beautiful entrance to San Francisco skyline and people need to get in and out of town for gods sakes. WTF is wrong with our city planners?
personally i think they should build another raised freeway over 19th avenue. thoroughfares through urban areas at street level get way too congested.
Posted by: jill at September 4, 2013 8:52 PM
Another major city up the coast, Vancouver, BC, is considering removing a downtown viaduct as well (the only one they ever built actually).
Look at page 9:
and please suggest to the city of SF to consider similar designs. I think it would fit SF great.
Posted by: Anton at September 4, 2013 9:16 PM
This is High Line envy. And to be fair the High Line is a wonderful pedestrian haven. It's hard to know what to think - the streets underneath would be so much nicer without the park's shadow, but elevation seems to be the only way to create a comfortable walking environment within a city.
Posted by: heynonnynonny at September 4, 2013 11:00 PM
The Embarcadero fwy also served thousands of car drivers a day. It certainly wasn't unused. There was plenty of outcry then too. Oh it'll destroy my car access to the city! How ever will I get to the waterfront if there isn't an elevated freeway running along it? Oh those car haters just want the waterfront to themselves! And so on. Like they said - déjà all over again. It will vastly improve the city and you won't ever miss it and you'll still be able to cruise in your Lamborghini into Soma. It just might take 30 seconds longer than it does today.
Posted by: Hmmm at September 4, 2013 11:53 PM
Anything to make the commute more difficult for all of the people who work 30 miles and more south of the city is fine with me. Tear down all the freeways and let San Francisco neighborhoods stop becoming a bedroom community for obnoxious tech employees who experience the city only from inside a private bus.
Posted by: TearItDown at September 5, 2013 4:28 AM
^Perhaps the dumbest thing I have ever read on this site, on so many levels.
Posted by: NJ at September 5, 2013 6:51 AM
Hmmmm - have you driven on the Embarcadero? During peak times, it can add 20 minutes onto your drive. I have experienced an additional 30 minutes during particularly busy times. Think of all the pollution that the additional minutes add to the environment in addition to costing the driver more. I admit it looks nicer, but ugly highways are the price of decent transportation (or would you rather remove all the eyesore roads and just leave tree-lined boulevards for strolling). The removal of these pipelines just leaves more surface traffic that decreases air quality (just look at the grime on the houses that line 19th avenue). We need roads after all.
Posted by: HoHum at September 5, 2013 8:26 AM
A garden with food that is supposedly edible? LOL.
Anyone who lives in the downtown high-traffic areas knows of the black dust that covers everything. It is particulate matter from tires, brake dust, air pollution, etc. which would be going straight into the soil and therefore the gardened food. You couldn't pay me to eat food grown there!
Posted by: anon at September 5, 2013 8:57 AM
"Anything to make the commute more difficult for all of the people who work 30 miles and more south of the city is fine with me. Tear down all the freeways and let San Francisco neighborhoods stop becoming a bedroom community for obnoxious tech employees who experience the city only from inside a private bus."
Ummm, okay. Crazy logic, but you're entitled to your opinion...I guess.
Posted by: Mark at September 5, 2013 10:06 AM
@HoHum: the bigger question to ask is why people drive in the Bay Area to begin with. Job location? Cost of living is cheaper in exurbia? Transit options/connections suck? Etc., etc. etc.
Posted by: Mark at September 5, 2013 10:19 AM
Hey Jill. Any relation, by chance, to Robert Moses?
Posted by: Mark at September 5, 2013 10:25 AM
What a boondoggle. The western part of 280 is one of the few roadways in SF that is actually pretty functional and efficiently getting traffic in and out of the city. I have already let my elected representatives know my views on the ridiculous idea of taking down an essential freeway, and will continue to do so. Perhaps if others do the same, we can put the brakes on this absurd idea.
Mark: Are you living in a cave? Do you really think that public transit provides such wonderful service that people here should not need cars? If you happen to have a life in which you don't need to commute any great distance and you never plan to buy anything larger and/or heavier than you could carry, never desire to go someplace *gasp* WITH other people, and aren't at all worried that your job might go away someday and you might be forced to take a position outside the city, where taking public transit (if even possible) might add 2-3 hours each day to your commute... well, congratulations to you on managing to craft a car-free life. But it's not possible, practical, or desirable for everyone, and your holier-than-thou attitude is not particularly useful.
Motor vehicles are not going away, nor should they. The key is getting people to consider alternate forms of transport (transit, bike, etc.) for those trips where it makes sense for them. (And what makes sense will be different for a 25-year-old hipster whose entire life takes place in one neighborhood than it will be for a 75-year-old with mobility issues, or for someone whose job requires mobility or who needs to go places not well-served by transit.) I think we can successfully reduce the number of auto trips in SF, but I'm not sure it's going to reduce significantly the number of autos. I'm probably typical of many people — I use transit, I bike, but I also drive, and my car is necessary for some of the getting around my life requires. I use the car a lot less than I used to, but I don't really see that use dropping any further, because it just isn't workable to do so. And, in fact, as I get older, auto use may increase. Let's hope not, but there are far fewer 60 and 70-year-olds pedaling around than younger folks.
Tearing down the western section of 280 is akin to ripping the wings off of a perfectly good passenger jet, and then encouraging people to continue to fly on it.
Posted by: Dubocian at September 5, 2013 12:52 PM
^The fact that 280 is empty most of the time means that is inefficient, not that's efficient. Speed does not equal efficiency.
Posted by: anon at September 5, 2013 1:46 PM
That's total bs anon, that 280 is "empty most of the time'. Simply untrue.
More fear mongering and broad statements of untruth.
Dubocian made some excellent comments. The point is about providing alternate forms of transit and having those choices available. Sadly, many of the 25 yo hipster bike boys really do believe that the ONLY way to get around, at all hours of the day for ALL tasks is on their little bike. They don't have the capacity, nor the intelligence to see other points of view, and respect choices.
Thankfully cars are here to stay. Lets work on making our public transit the BEST in the country.
Posted by: Futurist at September 5, 2013 1:58 PM
Futurist-- why are you bringing boys on bikes into this?
This is about how people will get downtown by car and train.
I am yet to be convinced that tearing down 280 is necessary-- especially if it's the government spending tax money to enrich developers of adjacent parcels. Much development is still planned along the bay, including the new arena, the Giant's Mission Rock project, and Pier 70, all increasing traffic. I'm skeptical of years of road demolition and construction in order to reduce traffic capacity.
However, I'm willing to listen to the argument that tearing down 280 is absolutely necessary for efficient high speed rail into downtown.
Posted by: Dan at September 5, 2013 2:29 PM
This section of 280 is jampacked during 4-5 hrs/ day. What an idiotic statement that it is unused. It is the entry to downtown SF from the south (forget tech people, think airport to downtown)
Posted by: Moto mayhem at September 5, 2013 2:30 PM
@ Dan: in very broad terms I am referring to the "bike coalition" and supporters who really would prefer we all ride bikes, and that all roads are turned into bikeways and that all cars are banned from SF. Ok, yea, a bit dramatic, but just go on Streetsblog and read the stories and endless comments re: the hate of cars.
I too am concerned about the hundreds of millions, perhaps a billion dollars to tear the freeway down and create a workable surface parkway. Not to mention the money spent on studies and engineering,etc.
And really, witness the Octavia Blvd solution to the former freeway. I applaud the greenery trees and new energy of Hayes Valley, but walking by there today, the surface traffic was horrendous, not to mention the noise, pollution, and danger to pedestrians at street level.
There is some validity to having a major urban freeway ABOVE the ground.
Posted by: Futurist at September 5, 2013 4:23 PM
@Futurist - I'm not even convinced that we need to take 280 down, but repeating the complete lie that 280 is not empty most of the time doesn't help anything. 280 is wildly overbuilt for traffic the vast majority of the day. Perhaps it's busy for an hour in the morning and a couple hours at night. That's a TINY minority of the time.
@Moto mayhem - the more common route from the airport is um, 101 North. You know, the freeway that is literally right next to the airport. Perhaps it is used as an overflow, but there's no reason that the airport would be a common user as overflow than just normal traffic. Also, airports are ridiculously small traffic generators in the whole scheme of things. Daily commute traffic is an order of magnitude greater than airport traffic for an entire week.
Posted by: anon at September 5, 2013 4:28 PM
This freeway is only congested at rush hour and it leads to probably the single easiest place to get to in the Bay Area via transit - downtown SF. I see so many people driving to work in the Financial District and none of them are elderly or with mobility issues. Maybe they have to take their kids to school but that's about it. (there's also school buses outside SF but go figure) Mostly it's about habit and these habits need to change if we're going to accommodate more density, which is consistently what people on this site advocate for. This freeway is a big waste of space. If you got to drive, do it outside of rush hour and it's really not that bad.
Posted by: S at September 5, 2013 5:31 PM
"Perhaps it's busy for an hour in the morning and a couple hours at night. That's a TINY minority of the time"
Well, as a very frequent user, this is just plainly false. this is packed from 6-10 and 3-7. thats 8 hrs/day. and its not necessariy people going to work downtown. what about travellers from airport to hotels as moto said? people who live on the east side of town driving to the south. anyone who needs to come into downtown or the north east side from the south.
taking this down makes no sense to me. and honestly, i think it adds beauty to the city to have this iconic entrance to downtown.
everyone can't take transit to and from SF.
Posted by: Spencer at September 5, 2013 5:40 PM
What was once a city of innovation has become
a city of emulation. ( OMG I just made that up right here. ) I'm awesome.
Posted by: Mike at September 5, 2013 6:36 PM
Then anon, go ahead and believe your little fantasies.
You're flat out wrong and others say so as well.
Whether a freeway is "congested" or not is not a valid reason to just remove it. The impact of traffic at grade can be enormous, and not all good. AGAIN; look at the Octavia Blvd mess.
I agree with Spencer as well. Not everyone can take public transit. And furthermore, our public transit, basically is a joke.
Posted by: Futurist at September 5, 2013 6:39 PM
Who said anything about transit? It was claimed that the 280 freeway was packed the majority of the day, which is laughably false.
I don't know why you always assume that folks must be talking about transit. It's weird. Transit is terrible here, but that has nothing to do with whether or not to keep a freeway or demolish it for higher use.
As I mentioned, I'm not sold on tearing down, but I certainly don't dismiss the option. SF is clearly a much richer (monetarily and in other ways) from tearing down other freeways and unlocking the land to be used in other ways, despite the fact that they were used when they were around.
Posted by: anon at September 5, 2013 7:23 PM
Tearing down this freeway absolutely would be good for SF. Anyone who thinks that the Embarcadero and Hayes Valley were better before has a hole in their head. And Futurist, Octavia Street is not at all a "mess". It works very well and is reasonably attractive to boot.
I do agree that after it gets torn down, it will be replaced with condos and a mini park. But if they can just keep the lot sizes down, then (unlike Mission Bay) they would have a shot at creating an actual desirable neighborhood that extends the fabric of SF.
I also agree that these are the lamest designs ever to win awards in the history of architectural competition.
Posted by: PD at September 6, 2013 10:44 AM
Oh, and btw, I live on Potrero Hill and would be "impacted" by the additional traffic. Bring it on! I'll gladly take it in lieu of a giant concrete viaduct overhead.
Posted by: PD at September 6, 2013 10:50 AM
Well, not surprised that the winners pretty much used the freeway as a platform to build on or work with.
No one actually torn it down and did some real planning?
Posted by: Jude at September 9, 2013 4:12 PM
WTF is with this artsy-fartsy day-dreaming stuff?
Posted by: Gregg at October 4, 2013 2:14 PM
I was against the 280 tear-down until I had an idea - why not bury 280 from Potrero Hill (or even further south!), and in the process *extend* it so that it connects with 80 at 5th Street (*plenty* of room for the tunnel to emerge on the E side of 5th Street, between the E and W bound lanes). There could be tunnel off-ramps at 16th (for Potrero Hill & Mission Bay) and King or Townsend) for SoMa and ballpark. This both frees up land for develoment (and removes the eyesore of an elevated freeway), *and* improves regional transportation. (It would also end 280's unique status as perhaps the only subsidiary interstate that doesn't actually connect with its namesake - but that's a small price to pay!)
Posted by: Sierrajeff at November 11, 2013 8:27 AM
^Why not do that? Because it would be absurdly expensive for very little benefit?
Posted by: anon at November 11, 2013 9:41 AM