SWA Designs Landscape & Public Realm for Chase Center, San Francisco’s New Arena & Entertainment District
People-centric landscape design supports the center’s programmed activities and creates a new major public open space for San Francisco
San Francisco, CA (October 2, 2019) – SWA’s San Francisco studio has designed the landscape for Chase Center, the new waterfront home of the Golden State Warriors. Located in a former industrial zone of the emerging Mission Bay neighborhood, the 18,064-seat Chase Center arena and its 10.5-acre entertainment district in SWA’s purview form a pedestrian-friendly, year-round destination with 100,000 square feet of retail space, 3.2 acres of plazas or public open space with adjacent offices buildings, art installations and other features.
Accessibility, flexibility and resilience characterize the public realm of the Warrior’s new home. The landscape expresses the spirit of the city creating a flexible, accessible public place that is an entertainment venue unto itself. San Francisco residents, neighboring office-goers and visitors—with or without a game ticket—can take in the spectacular views of the Bay, enjoy a picnic lunch, and visit the many retail and dining outlets. A series of outdoor spaces, offering performance and gathering areas that are programmed either to complement events in Chase Center arena or independently, support the site’s myriad activities. The result is a mixed-use complex that creates a world-class attraction beyond the NBA basketball team, diversifying its appeal and revenue streams.
Two major features of the landscape design include a 35,000-square-foot central plaza that doubles as event space and a 25,000-square-foot triangular plaza at 16th and Terry Francois streets that hosts a permanent installation, “Seeing Spheres” by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. The spaces are connected by a wide, spiraling pedestrian path that rises and curves alongside the built arena, echoing its form, tempering its large scale and offering terraces and view platforms to the bay beyond. On the city side, pathways with seating slope towards and meet the ground plane to draw pedestrians from nearby transit and neighborhoods into the plaza’s central space.
“This is an urban mixed-use project and as such, it’s a bit of a chameleon,” notes Rene Bihan, Managing Principal, SWA. “Neighbors can dine alongside the growing workforce and fans of sports and music. We designed the site to offer an urban stroll through a series of connected spaces that change with seasonal and event programming.”
Flexibility is seen in the modular landscape’s dual role: it directs circulation by guiding thousands of visitors to and from the arena while also offering a number of gathering places that accommodate those who wish to relax and enjoy seasonal activities. Equivalent to a series of outdoor living rooms, these plazas were designed to remake and animate the space as needed. Custom-designed planters/seating modules are deployed throughout the various plazas to frame different events. The modules can be moved by forklift to create space for ice skating, farmer’s markets, an instant micro-garden, or a car show.
The landscape addresses San Francisco’s strict code for environmental sustainability including ‘natural cleansing’ of water run-off with a special terraced garden along 3rd Street. The garden offers a learning experience by revealing the bio-filtration process by which plants help to cleanse all rain water on site. Native California planting throughout the ten-acre parcel of land conserves water, provides shade canopy, and unifies the area’s character.
The spiral theme, expressed in the building’s design by architects Manica Architecture and Kendal Heaton & Associates, is also repeated in the landscape through the site’s paving, with stainless steel bands embedded to convey a sense of circular movement, and in the scoring pattern of cast-in-place concrete, which sets a pleasant cadence for the pedestrian experience. The Warriors’ identity will be reflected throughout the year with creative programmed activities in the seasonal venues and through the landscape itself, with a color palette that echoes the Warriors’ brand.
“Chase Center is definitely not a one liner. Taken as a whole, this is a place where you can absorb much of San Francisco’s burgeoning culture a piece at a time, or collectively,” Bihan added.
SWA is an international landscape architecture, planning and urban design firm celebrated for creativity, responsiveness and design excellence. We believe that the public realm is an essential part of the infrastructure of great cities, and design parks, streets, plazas, and open space in ways that foster vitality, equity and resilience. The firm’s work varies in scale and character in keeping with its particular setting and client aspirations. SWA has studios in Dallas, Houston, Laguna Beach, Los Angeles, New York, San Francisco, Sausalito and Shanghai. For more information, visit www.swagroup.com.
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Christina Allan, Blue Medium, Inc.
Ron Heckmann, Heckmann Comms
Fran Hegeler, SWA