The relocation of the Exploratorium, a LEED Gold project, brought GLS a rare opportunity: to create an entirely new public space on San Francisco’s waterfront.
The GLS scope, at 100,000 square feet, consisted solely of hardscape and was aligned as much with the structural engineering as with the architecture. This project, with numerous technical challenges and a fast-paced schedule, transformed a crumbling loading dock and two piers into a central lagoon with plazas, promenades, and bridges. Insertion of the hardscape required the renovation and seismic upgrade of two decrepit piers, including the replacement of hundreds of pilings and a 2 acre parking lot over the bay. Replacing the parking lot, GLS designed publicly accessible open space for large scale outdoor exhibits related to the observation of natural phenomena such as wind, fog and tides. The formerly industrial site, re-connected to downtown following the removal of the Embarcadero freeway, has been reinvigorated by a variety of new features, including a new saltwater basin surrounded by public and ticketed plazas, 3 new bridges, and nearly 1/2 mile of new public waterfront promenades. The GLS scope also included seating, metalwork, lighting, and seismic joints. To satisfy curatorial needs for flexibility, adaptable exhibit infrastructure is integrated into the design throughout, including accommodations for water, data, and power.