Buoyant Ecologies San Francisco

Fall 2014
Instructors: Adam Marcus, Margaret Ikeda, Evan Jones

This Integrated Building Design studio explores architectural opportunities at San Francisco’s edge: where the city meets the Bay.

The Embarcadero—an urban and historical nexus of industry, commerce, transport, and tourism—serves as a site for reimagining the waterfront as a critical and resilient element of the city’s ecology. Focusing on the slip adjacent to Autodesk’s Pier 9 Workshop, students have developed speculative proposals for a floating vessel that will both expand the workshop and open up new possibilities for public engagement along the Embarcadero. Just as the historical waterfront was a crucial engine for the industrial and commercial economies of its time, these projects speculate how the contemporary waterfront can engage with new realities and opportunities of San Francisco’s twenty-first century economies and ecologies. How can the floating structure—a place for assembling and displaying the creative work produced in the state-of-the-art Pier 9 Workshop—engage pedestrians along the Embarcadero and showcase emerging fabrication and production technologies? How can the vessel itself, in its construction, building systems, the research it facilitates, and the prototypes it produces, actively contribute to the surrounding ecology of the Bay? What kinds of architectural opportunities exist in such a mobile maritime structure?

The studio has collaborated with Autodesk’s Creative Programs Team, the Pier 9 Workshop, and research partners from the Benthic Lab at Moss Landing Marine Laboratories and Kreysler & Associates to explore these questions and imagine provocative and compelling new visions for the future of San Francisco’s waterfront.

The semester began with an intensive research charrette in which teams of students investigated specific topics, including subtidal zone ecology, vessel design principles, material and fabrication strategies, waterfront programs, land-water interface strategies, and building/environmental systems specific to this unique building typology. These themes extended into the design phase to help frame integrated approaches to the programmatic, material, and ecological parameters of the project.

The work of the studio was exhibited at the Autodesk Gallery in San Francisco in the spring of 2015.


Buoyant Ecologies Studio, Fall 2014: Tyler Jones-Powell, Melissa Perkinson, Behnaz Banishahabadi, Maryam Nassajian, Jill Chin-Han Chao, Harrison Hong-Yi Chou, Sanna Lee, Hayfa Al-Gwaiz, Mikaela Leo, Jude Simon, Welbert Bonilla, Yasmine Orozco, Blake Stevenson, Dustin Tisdale