A Heatherwick-Designed Flood-Resistant Park Could Be Coming to San Francisco

Courtesy Wire Collective

The elevated space is meant to withstand rising sea levels.

Sadly, climate change is ravaging some of our coastline's most stunning sites. And one of those spots is the historic piers in San Francisco. That's why architecture firm Heatherwick Studio designed an elevated park where Piers 30-32 at Central Embarcadero Piers Historic District stood. 


Courtesy Heatherwick Studio

Called The Cove, the proposal would take over where the 108-year-old abandoned and deteriorating piers currently remain. This area is in such disrepair; it was actually considered one of the most endangered historic places in America by the National Trust for Historic Preservation in 2016. The new build would bring life back to the piers by creating a work campus and park that hovers above the sea below.

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To do that, Heatherwick Studio proposed using a "resilient pier platform" made from concrete piles that can withstand the rising sea waters. Two buildings that make up the work campus will sit on top of the pilings along with a five-acre public park. The buildings will be modular to provide the flexibility of use. Spaces can be everything from offices to shops. Renderings show the buildings have glass walls to offer views of the water and park in between. 


Courtesy Heatherwick Studio

Meanwhile, the park has plenty of grassy spots that overlook the San Francisco Bay, paths for strolling, and there's even room for water sports like kayaking. Combined, the new area will take up 550,000 square feet, which is smaller than the current historic location. According to the design team, the goal is to highlight the coastal bluffs of California and show a variety of natural habitats. 

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In addition to reinventing an historic location and providing a new park space, The Cove is also meant to be a buzzing cultural hub. Of course, Heatherwick created an eco-friendly design. The Cove would be net-zero carbon and meet International Living Future Institute certifications.


Courtesy Heatherwick Studio

The design is a response to The Port of San Francisco's call for ideas on protecting and transforming the vulnerable waterfront sites of the city. While still in the early stages, The Cove has a proposed completion date of 2026.