Urban Reef

Project: Urban Reef
Date: Fall 2008
Kyle Belcher, Dylan Barlow, Geoff Gregory
Pier 70 Studio
Mona El Khafif, David Fletcher
Award: First Place ACSA Green Community International Students Competition, 2009

Juror comments: A dramatic analysis, visionary form, well-assembled ideas, and beautifully illustrated. Marries a big idea directly related to the topic with an architectural solution. Deals expressly with how to deal with high-rise density

Project Description
The Urban Reef is a system inspired by its natural aquatic counterpart, which creates a diverse and sustainable social and economic environment; It produces food and energy and processes waste, always feeding back into itself and the city. In a time where the idea of ‘Peak Oil = Peak Food’ is becoming reality, it’s imperative that societies rethink the relationships of production and consumption, especially regarding our food cycle. But as oil prices rise, both monetarily and environmentally – our food travels an average of 1,500 miles from the fields to your table – we all pay a higher price. As the American urban fabric changes with the reality of a global economy, our relationship of location of consumption to system of production must be re-evaluated. Vast areas of American cities lie under utilized as the fall of industrial processes’ open voids and provide an opportunity to shift the existing paradigm – from “brown fields” to “green fields”. In a post natural world where technology is omnipresent, sustainability should no longer be about the separation of technology and nature – but hybridization of the two.

The city of San Francisco with a temperate climate, an environmentally aware public, and an existing demand for local organic food. In this urban environment there exists a unique opportunity for the implementation of this hybrid landscape. San Francisco has 500 acres of land that lies dormant with no immediate planned use, allow for an easier implantation of hybrid strategies. Much of this waiting land sits on the eastern shore of the city and is left idle by the relocation of maritime industry to the other side of the Bay. The site of our proposal, Pier 70, is a 65-acre site in the middle of the ‘Industrial Edge’ of San Francisco was used to build military ships during World War II. We feel that this site has huge potential to return to a place of production – for urban agriculture. For a large-scale development such as this to be economically viable it must mix sustainability and production with a high volume of lease-able space. Our proposal for Pier 70 covers 2.8 million sf. And is distributed as follows:

• Public: 1,100,000 sf.
• Agriculture: 2,000,000 sf.
• Outdoor 1,609,000
• Indoor 41,000
• Aquaculture 350,000
• Residential: 2,527,000 sf.
• Commercial: 300,000 sf.
• Wetlands: 180,000 sf.
• Energy Production: 200,000 sf.

Like any reef found in nature, the evolution of Urban Reef can not occur overnight and must be thought of in terms of a phased development. Over the course of 30 years, strip typologies; recreation areas, agricultural school, farmland, offices would be implemented across the site while always trying to maintain different densities of residential and agricultural areas. The reef is not purely an analogy for systems of production but also a strategy for urbanism. Diversity in systems (energy + food + waste), people (resident gardener + commercial farmer) and activities (shopping + working + living + growing + leisure) perpetuate dynamic social interactions like that of an ocean reef. Also similar to its natural counterpart, growth of the system is flexible based on needs over time. In the Urban Reef, strip typologies could change over the course of its development based on the needs of the system. So the proposed scheme and its corresponding square footages are only one possible configuration of the system.