50 UN Plaza, located in the heart of San Francisco’s Civic Center, is the renovation of an historic Arthur Brown Jr. building that was
built in 1936. CLA was responsible for the redesign of its 24,000 square foot interior courtyard, as well as the perimeter streetscape
and security components.
Working with an artist, CLA developed a contemporary design for the courtyard that provides intimate spaces as
well as accommodating medium-sized outdoor gatherings. Elements of the original courtyard design are expressed through
the retained symmetrical layout and circulation. The space is enlivened with arcing paving bands that transition into concrete
benches and 2 new granite fountains centered in groves of birch trees and ferns. While the space will recall the history of the
original courtyard the updates will reinvent the space as a serene experience away from the bustle of UN Plaza.
Cliff Lowe Associates worked closely with Handel Architects to provide construction documentation and construction
observation services for this 35,000 square foot public plaza. Jessie Square is an integral part of the open space fabric of
the Yerba Buena arts district. The plaza links the Yerba Buena Gardens with the new Contemporary Jewish Museum, the St.
Patrick Church, and the Four Seasons Hotel. Built above an existing parking garage, the design succeeds in providing universal
accessibility between these institutions. In the future, it will also function as a fore court to the new Mexican Museum. The
plaza features a low, terraced water fountain with inset pebbles, large lawn areas with wood benches, exposed aggregate
concrete paving with accent stone insets, and a row of Gingko trees that provide a shade canopy to the outdoor eating area.
Jessie Square received the AIACC Award of Merit for Urban Design in 2009.
In keeping with the rich tradition of American courthouse squares and plazas the new Superior Court in Hollister, California provides the city’s first major civic space. This 41,000 square-foot plaza is a focal point for civic and community life and expresses the project's overall vision of the openness of a democratic judicial system.
The City of Hollister is located in an agricultural valley comprised of linear fields and gridded orchards. Similarly, the architecture of the new courthouse is also a linear and gridded composition. This parallel presented a compelling approach to integrating the building into its context. This evolved into a composition of four spaces united by a linear paving pattern. These include a civic plaza, a lawn, a linear garden, and a bosque of cherry trees. Vernacular materials such as galvanized steel planters and decomposed granite were used to further integrate the project with the local context.
Sustainable strategies include directing over 90% of stormwater to rain gardens and using a combination of large shade trees and reflective surfaces to reduce the heat-island effect. As drought is a pressing issue in California, the lawn area was minimized, a water-efficient irrigation system was specified, and the majority of the plantings are native or drought-tolerant. In order to encourage alternate means of transportation, the project includes racks for thirty bicycles and six preferred parking spaces for low-emittance vehicles. These strategies helped the project achieve LEED Silver Certification.
The project was featured in LANDZINE, the international journal of landscape architecture, and in BD+C Magazine, and earned an AIA Justice Citation Award..
Photo Credits: Bruce Damonte
Balboa Park is one of the most visted parks in San Francisco. With the heavily used programs for baseball, swimming, tennis
and children’s play area, the park was a little worn and required renovation. Under the guidance of Trust for Public Land in
partnership with San Francisco Recreation and Parks, a program developed through a series of neighborhood workshop
to turn the park around. A skate park was added, the tot lot expanded, the tennis courts refurbished, new park fencing and
security was developed, and a new park entry was designed. The visual access to the park from the surrounding neighborhood
was re-established by cutting back some of the overgrown vegetation and replanting with lower growing, drought tolerant
plants. Today, Balboa Park continues to be the heart of this surrounding community.
The Science and Engineering 2 facility is part of the rapid growth of the newest UC campus. Sited at the northern edge of campus and overlooking the future “South Bowl” open-space, the S+E2 building is a prominent architectural feature of the University. The landscape design marries the building to the landscape and together with the structure provides transition between two site conditions- the urban texture of the academic buildings to the north and the naturalized open space along the canal edge and future “South Bowl”. On the north side of the building, there is an informal plaza with teak benches and tables well suited to the rhythm of students comings and goings. An exterior breezeway connects the plaza to the south side of the building, terminating in an overlook with views of the Sierra Nevada mountain range. Small rooms defined by seat walls can be accessed through glass “garage doors” at the building edge. These rooms, the building’s exterior colonnade, and the overlook, create a dynamic and fluid space that accommodates both large flows of traffic and smaller gatherings. Within this framework, the activity of the building can spill out and manifest the great energy generated by the intersection of students and faculty and the overlap of academic and recreational terrain. These informal gathering spaces help support the campus vision of a continuous exchange of ideas and collaboration between academic disciplines. This project is anticipating a LEED Platinum certification.
The Rockwell will provide 262 units of much-needed housing as as well as 5000 sf of retail in the Lower Pacific Heights neighbourhood of San Francisco. Located near the City's historic Auto Row, the project repurposes two historic facades of former automobile-related businesses. Inspired by this temporal relationship, CLA designed the project's central open space courtyard to evoke the design of mid-century cars and the sinuous experience of the open road.
The landscape design also includes the retention of several large existing trees on the site as well as the filtering and retention of storm water through permeable pavers and 1800 sf of flow-through planters on several levels.
Photo Credits: Peter Alfred Hess
Approximately, 30% of the land in Mission Bay is dedicated to public parks. These parks run through the core of the project, including the six-block long Commons, the Esplanade north of the Channel, P-1 south of the Channel, the parks fronting Terry François and the P-26 at the southern edge of Mission Bay, defining the different neighborhoods within Mission Bay.
CLA worked with the Olin Partnership on the design of the first two blocks of the Commons, P-16 and P-17. We worked with the San Francisco Redevelopment Agency, BCDC, Department of Public Works, the Mission Creek Neighborhood Group, and MUNI for coordination and approval of the final plans. Park P-18 was developed to provide a place for the pump station and offers a mini park for the adjacent residential development, the Radiance, overlooking the Bay. We have continued to develop and completed Parks P-10 which is at the western edge of the Commons, marking the major entry to Mission Bay from 7th and Owens Street.
The Marlow offers 98 new residences along San Francisco’s central Van Ness Avenue. In contrast to this busy and dynamic urban corridor, CLA designed a serene and minimalist courtyard as a place for residents to relax and recharge. The courtyard features a bocce court, outdoor cooking and dining, a firepit and a lawn area. The planting palette includes native and drought tolerant species and the building’s storm water is filtered through a series of infiltration planters. All of the landscape elements are incorporated into a simple, modernist composition that integrates the site and the building.
Photo Credits: Peter Alfred Hess
The America Center campus borders wetlands and the southernmost extents of the San Francisco Bay. This LEED silver project is a former land-fill and a portion of the site is the nesting habitat for the California Burrowing Owl. CLA worked closely with HKS and Legacy Partners to develop a site plan that would meet the needs of the client, capture the sweeping views of wetlands and foothills, and work within the constraints inherrent to a brownfield site. Inspired by the adjacent landscape, the hillsides along the property edge and the stately palm -lined entry drive are masses of color and texture acheived by using a mix of California native and adapted plant species. The central courtyard is a date-palm grove with an understory of red and silver leaved plants. Dramatic from street level the bold colors and textures are even more striking seen from the offices above. CLA and the landscape contractor identified specimen quality trees throughout the project. Recently completed, the result is a unique campus that complements the existing landscape, respects and enhances the adjacent habitat, and provides a sophisticated and unique facade for America Center.
The Bauer Schweitzer facility was once a functioning brewery and malting plant on the fringes of the North Beach community of San Francisco. The site consisted of several large silos and warehouse buildings. The tower building has been designated a San Francisco Landmark.
Ceasing operation in 1981 its site and remaining structures were converted into luxury condominiums with parking underground. The main tower building has been restored and converted into housing, low-rise warehouse structures have been removed and replaced with new architecture creating a much-needed housing enclave of 88 units.
All residential units have a view of the interior courtyard with a water fountain. Two of the 65' high silos have been preserved in the courtyard and one of them serves as an entry into the tower building. Cast iron columns that once held malting vats were reused as light fixtures along the diagonal path. Existing WPA murals and other historic remnant artifacts have been restored and placed in the lobbies of the building.
The new Sava Pool replaced a neglected and deteriorating facility in Larsen park and the result is now the jewel of the Sunset District. The pool now serves the neighborhood as well as local schools for both recreation and competition.
The landscape design for the 1.48 acre site integrates the new building with its context in Larsen Park. To the north the topography embraces the building; the gently sloping hillside is planted with a tall fescue grass for a subtle transition to the turf of an existing multi-use field adjacent. A simple palette of native grasses and drought tolerant trees complement the modern building with soft textures and colors while promoting a sustainable approach to landscape design.
Located at the corner of 10th and Market Streets adjacent to the San Francisco Civic Center district, this mixed-use complex creates one of the densest developments in the city with 754 units and 13,000 SF of ground-level retail. The project includes three landscaped terraces - on the 3rd, 11th, and 24th floors - that include a fitness center, fire pit and swimming pool, as well as private terraces for units located on these levels.
Adjacent to several tech companies including Twitter, the landscape design takes its inspiration from the simple geometry of straight lines joined by arcs popularized by Apple products, which in turn is a reprise of mid-century minimalist product design. Playing off the angles of the central residential tower, the plan is comprised of a series of green trapezoids that provide a lively counterpoint to the dark, metal-clad architecture. These include artificial turf areas outside the fitness center for outdoor yoga and exercise, as well as planting areas with evergreen, drought-tolerant plantings. The terrace on the 24th floor provides 180 degree views as well as a sunny southern exposure, a welcome contrast to the shady podium courtyard.
Architect: Handel Architect
Client: Crescent Heights
Photography: Bruce Damonte
The Park and Apartments at 333 Harrison Street are located within the rapidly changing Rincon Hill area. The park design was developed through a series of community workshops, co-led by CLA. The half-acre park will include a community garden, children’s play area, amphitheater style seating and a large lawn. The building and park area designed to share a vibrant, active, urban edge through a series of private stoops and a large building ‘portal’ that links the park to the private courtyard. The courtyard is designed as a minimalist composition of texture and color, with a fountain and planted berm as the focal point. A rooftop space provides the residents with a barbque area and spa, as well as a green roof and expansive city views.
474 Natoma is an affordable family housing development in the center of San Francisco’s SOMA neighborhood. The nine story project is sandwiched between two mid-rise buildings and has frontages on Natoma Street and Minna Street. CLA developed a central courtyard scheme on the second floor podium level inspired by a woodland clearing. Shaded and protected from wind by buildings on all sides, the courtyard is a quiet escape from the city streets below. Custom ipe benches add warmth and contrast to the lush plantings. Two ninth floor roof terraces give the project a community garden and public gathering space with an unobstructed viewed of the San Francisco skyline.
Situated on the edge of Oakland’s Chinatown, Merritt Crossing Apartments provides 70 below-market rate units for seniors. The project open space spans the north side of the building and has been divided into rooms that respond to the programmatic needs of the client. The landscape is inspired by traditional Chinese garden design but adapted to respond to the contemporary architecture as well as the local climate. A community room extends to the outdoors through a patio with movable furniture. A community garden, tai chi area, and walking circuit encourage the residents to actively use the space, while a shade structure and park benches provide opportunities for passive enjoyment of the garden. The landscape is certified Bay Friendly and the project anticipates receiving a LEED Platinum rating.