280 Freeway Competition, Mission Bay, San Francisco

The goal of this competition was to overcome the barrier posed by the combination of the elevated 280 freeway and Caltrain surface rail line that crosses 16th at the main entry point to the new Mission Bay area of San Francisco. The competition brief posited a solution that would lower the train line into a tunnel and demolish the elevated freeway. Entrants were asked to design the interfaces with Mission Bay after these two elements were removed.

After examining the site Solas decided to retain both the freeway as a pedestrian only street and park and the rail line in its current location. To overcome and exploit these “barriers” we proposed a manmade hill set at a pedestrian friendly slope that would rise up to the level of the freeway and drop back down again on the other side. We believe this will provide permeability and connection to Mission Bay. The rail line would run under this hill. Buildings sit on this new terrain with sunken courts carved out of it. The project proposed a combination of public and affordable housing, civic buildings and light industrial uses that could use the spaces beneath the hill in what we called modern catacombs. These light industrial uses would be lit from the sunken courts.