Embarcadero and Public Piers Plan

It was a once-in-a-century chance to plan the future of the historic but run-down piers in one of the world’s most celebrated waterfront cities. 

San Francisco’s famous Embarcadero, a waterfront boulevard and piers district, used to be a vibrant gateway to the world. But the seawall is over 100 years old, and more than 20 piers have disappeared by decaying and falling into the bay. 

When the Port Authority decided to restore the shoreline, the city needed a plan to make sure it could withstand future events like earthquakes and sea level rise.

Our proposal preserves the waterfront’s history and culture and offers more public access and diverse uses for residents and tourists to create a vibrant, world class destination.

The plan ties together the piers, sea walls and the Embarcadero, from the Bay Bridge and historic Ferry Building to the tourist attractions of Pier 39 and Fisherman’s Wharf. 

It looks to renovate sixteen of the existing piers - extending three of them - and resurrect five of the lost piers as floating structures that are resilient and adaptable to climate change.

In a city that lacks gathering places along its waterfront, this important restoration project opens up more space for public events and celebrations as well as commercial opportunities. Just as importantly, it secures the future of a district that’s synonymous with San Francisco.

Client

Port of San Francisco

Location

San Francisco, US

Status

Unbuilt

Year

2018

Scale

16 miles / 27 kms of waterfront

Collaborators

Page & Turnbull, WT Partnership, BkF, Rutherford + Chekene

Design team

Richard Mullane, Mark Loughnan, Martin Lee, Anthony Thevenon, Simon Rich, Jennifer Gonzalez, Rory Sheppard, Victor Vieaux

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The city’s highest density employment precinct is under threat from sea-level rise. According to projections, more than 1,000 acres of the site will be inundated by 2100.

In an ideal world, as Hassell has proposed in its ambitious submission, the port would … couple the desire to upgrade historic piers with the need to prepare the waterfront corridor and its eclectic structures for sea level rise.”

John King, San Francisco Chronicle
65 acres of new waterfront parks
9 miles of new accessible waterfront
5 miles of upgraded Embarcadero
  • Repairs and preserves the culture of the historic district, while also preparing for the future’s inevitable sea level rise
  • Illustrates multiple possible adaptation approaches, drawing on Hassell’s regeneration of Sydney’s wharfs and Darling Harbour
  • Unlocks the corridor’s public use potential through the creation of sports hubs, museums, pools, jetties, mixed-use development, retail, accommodation and parks and wildlife sanctuaries
  • Designed for equitable access to the waterfront, with activities and attractions for people of all ages and cultural and economic backgrounds

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