HOK's designs for the revitalisation of a San Francisco landmark
The original San Francisco Mint (1874) is a national historic landmark, and one of the few significant
buildings in the centre of San Francisco to survive the 1906 earthquake and fire.
The vision for the Mint is the creation of a new city museum and visitor’s centre for San Francisco and the region beyond. The Mint will serve as a gateway to the Bay Area providing an introduction to the rich
cultural assets of the region.
The design team recognised the importance of revealing not only the historic fabric - under decades of accretion from attempts over time to modify the space - but more powerfully, revealing the historic example of sustainability that it provides. The building is a model of sustainable design. It is a passively ventilated, naturally lit structure that makes use of its significant thermal mass, operable windows and a central courtyard. New interventions that support museum & visitor activities will be integrated into the historic structure, while allowing the building to remain porous and open to the environment beyond. This approach differentiates the building's environment through the use of microclimates.
Interventions act as intermediaries between the exterior environment and internal spaces which require variable degrees of control and comfort.
The largest intervention the team has proposed is to the roof of the building. A shining glass canopy will cover the historic courtyard, creating a new year-round public space. The canopy collects water and fog
at its corners to provide natural irrigation for a terraced roof garden.
The garden, itself another public space, is a clearly contemporary intervention while bringing back the ecology of the site prior to the
formation of the city. New event spaces will occupy the gardens, acting as bridges between the existing attic and the new green space.