A joint collaboration between Arrowstreet, Copley Wolff Design Group, and HTM Office/Madrid received the Merit Award in the 2018 Architecture at Zero design competition. This international competition presented by PG&E, San Francisco State University, and the AIA California Council challenged entrants to create a zero net energy bayside community education and visitor’s center, for SFSU’s Romberg Tiburon Center for Environmental Studies.
The project titled “Bay Area Transect” combines site-sensitive planning, zero-net energy design, and innovative placemaking strategies to build upon the Romberg Tiburon Center’s vision of connecting science, society, and the sea.
The site’s overall accessibility and vertical grade change is addressed with a water counterbalancing funicular which connects the waterfront with existing facilities at the top of the hillside. In addition to reducing the need for vehicular transportation throughout the site, the funicular also connects a variety of pedestrian options, such as a monumental stair and an accessible walking path that offers panoramic views to the bay.
Throughout the site, passive and active landscape interventions provide a variety of educational experiences while supporting the overall net-zero goals and on-site renewable power requirements of the project. Bay Area Transect proposes a protected tidal inlet that allows beginner kayakers to explore and connect with the coastal ecosystem.
The Visitor’s Center gently distributes the program across 4-tiers to minimize site disturbance and maximize daylighting and views to the bay. The natural grading of the site and proposed stacking of the program allows for passive ventilation measures to significantly reduce the energy required to ventilate the building. The Boathouse, is a multipurpose waterfront pavilion that acts as an activated terminus of the site funicular and connection to the tidal marsh boardwalk and renovated pier.
The proposed alterations to the San Francisco State Romberg Tiburon Campus have a simple goal: to allow visitors to explore the coastal ecosystem as well as the sustainable technologies that power its preservation. With that in mind, Bay Area Transect illustrates how good design and appreciation for the natural environment go hand in hand.