Golden State Warriors get a new home

Katie Henry
15 Nov 2019

SWA designs landscape and public realm for Chase Center, San Francisco’s new arena and entertainment district.

SWA’s San Francisco studio has designed the landscape for Chase Centre which will be the waterfront home of the Golden State Warriors. Located in the emerging Mission Bay neighborhood, a former industrial zone, the 18,064-seat Chase Center arena, along with the 10.5 acre entertainment district, will form a pedestrian-friendly year-round destination. It will contain 100,000sqft of retail space, 3.2 acres of plazas or public open space, as well as office buildings, art installations and other features. 

The Warrior’s new home will be made accessible, flexible and resilient, with the landscape expressing the spirit of the city as well as being an entertainment venue. Residents, neighboring office-goers and visitors can come with or without a ticket and see the spectacular views of the bay and visit the many retail and dining outlets. It will include a series of outdoor spaces that can be used for performance and gathering areas both connected to the Chase Center arena or independently. It has created a mixed-use complex that’s become a world-class attraction beyond the NBA basketball team, effectively diversifying its appeal and revenue streams.  

A major feature of the landscape design is the 35,000sqft central plaza that can be used for event space, as well as a 25,000sqft triangular plaza on 16th and Terry Francois streets hosting a permanent installation of “Seeing Spheres” by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. The spaces are connected by a wide, spiraling path which rises and curves alongside the built arena, echoing its form and tempering its large scale through offering terraces and view platforms to the bay beyond. There are also pathways on the city side that slope towards and meet the ground plane to draw pedestrians from nearby transit and neighborhoods to the central space of the plaza.

Flexibility is created in the modular landscape’s dual role: it directs circulation from guiding thousands of visitors in and out of the arena, as well as offering public spaces for those relaxing and enjoying seasonal activities. The plazas were designed to remake and animate the spaces needed with the equivalence of a series of outdoor living rooms. These include the placement of custom-designed planters/seating modules are arranged throughout the different plazas to fit with different events. The modules can be moved to create space for events such as ice skating, farmers markets, an instant micro-garden or a car show.

It includes many features that address San Francisco’s strict code for environmental sustainability such as “natural cleansing” of water run-off with a special terraced garden along 3rd Street. It creates a learning experience through revealing the bio-filtration process in which plants help cleanse all rain water on site. The ten-acre parcel of land uses native California planting to conserve water, provide shade canopy and unify the area’s character.

Architects Manica Architecture and Kendal Heaton & Associates expressed that the building’s spinal theme is apparent not only in the design but in the landscape through the site’s paving. It uses embedded stainless steel bands to convey a sense of circular movement and within the scoring pattern of cast-in-place concrete, setting a pleasant cadence for people walking through.