Billy Hustace Photography

Shipyard transformation unites past and future

Jo Smit
23 Nov 2018

A set of structures constructed in the nineteenth century as part of a shipyard repair works in San Francisco has been converted to a research centre for a future mode of transport: autonomous vehicles. The visionary transformation of these historic buildings has won Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects a top award in the World Architecture News Awards 2018.

The Uber Advanced Technologies Group R&D Center won the Adaptive Reuse Award in the WAN Awards 2018, which were presented at a celebration dinner in London this week. The project was a worthy winner. The center occupies a significant part of the historic Pier 70 in the Union Iron Works Historic District, which is now considered one of the best preserved nineteenth century industrial complexes west of the Mississippi. The four structures had been suffering significant neglect until Uber Advanced Technologies Group came to the rescue.

Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects’ transformation uses the building-within-a-building concept to preserve the historic perimeter brick walls, reducing the cost of temporary shoring while retaining the open volume of the tall interior spaces. The dramatic volumes of the original structures are retained, while the insertion of mezzanines, bridges and stairs both creates usable space and acts as internal diaphragms to resist lateral load. Conference rooms and other programmed functions are free-standing elements within the large volumes.

Laboratory, office, shop and kitchen spaces are located beneath the new mezzanine, while the center retains its voluminous space, which is perfect for social and shared use. Architectural lighting shapes the spaces, defines functions and highlights historic industrial artefacts, such as the original yellow cranes.

The end result forms a fitting setting for twenty-first century innovation, and was praised by the WAN Awards judges. “With its exposed structure, industrial heritage and its future inserted into the framework, heritage and modern now co-exist seamlessly,” they commented.

This project is one of more than 30 recognised in the WAN Awards 2018. These prestigious awards recognise the practices and projects shaping the global built environment.

The full list of winners of the WAN Awards 2018 is here.

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Key Facts

United States
Adaptive Reuse

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