April 12th, 2012
My first encounter with the America Cup Competition and Village was in the summer of 2010. The Golden Gate Yachut Club had yet to win, but my summer studio professor was looking forward to the event. My school, Cal Poly, made an exception that year after a fellow classmate’s campaign for a summer studio, allowing my teacher James Doeflour to open a summer architecture class.
Jim set our class project to the America Cup Village, and my class logically took a class field trip to my home city, San Francusco. We first visited the Oracle HQ, then we visited the Golden Gate Yachut Club. Both time, my professor managed to contact someone from the company to introduce to us to their role in the competition. Finally, we visited our project site – China Basin. As the project and site studies continued, I was awed by how a competition could possibly change the entire planning of a city. My class team came up with a revised version of the China Basin masterplan, then we individually used a combination of Revit and Rhino to create a laser-cut sculptural model for the site. Eventually, we finished the final project of that class – a landmark building on the China Basin Pier.
Two years later, I have returned to San Francisco, and the transformation brought by the America Cup is now going full force. The energy is high, and I see the name everywhere. Of course, my information network tends to gear toward the city planning aspect, what with my engagement in the sustainability community and being a Bicycle Coalition intern. As a result, yesterday I met with a group of professionals at a networking session, and is it any wonder how the conversation turned toward AIA when I am an architectural professional and another member in the session is a Sustainability Coordinator? Anyhow, I learned from her that AIA is hosting a presentation about the America Cup!
Thanks to my internship, I learned quite a bit about the role of bicycle in the America Cup, but a view from the AIA point? I was surprised (though I shouldn’t be, now that I think about it) that people are already gearing up to purchase or renovate their buildings to accommodate the crowd that America Cup will bring. Several of the visitors will actually be staying in the city for a few months because of their company business – instead of just the few days that the competition will be held. The competition site, along with the changing architecture and cityscape, goes from the Fisherman’s Wharf to as far as the China Basin, wrapping itself across the west side of the city. The presenter noted that on a architecture level, the ones most influenced would be the Hotel business, in addition to the retail business that the Competition will bring.
The information that excited me most included:
- New Muni line and Bikeshare!
- This year America Cup has aimed to be the most sustainable Village so far, placing priority on zero waste, bay health, and ocean health.
For number one: While I already own a bike, bikeshare means more people bicycling. How many times have I heard “Safety in Number” when it comes to bicycling? Besides, while I love biking, going all the way from Bayview to Downtown and then back… takes just too much energy for me to do anything else – what’s the point of riding to downtown if I tired myself out first? I would much rather take the T-Muni downtown, then rent a bike there. And Muni line? How can not be happy about more of it? The change in transportation system in 2013 will directly and indirectly change the cityscape, as evident now by the People Plan approved by SFMTA Board Directors (which will affect the bike and bus system around the Waterfront), not to mention the re-pavement in 2015 (AKA, The Better Market Street). I laughed when the presenter say that the message is Do Not Drive to North Bay. When it comes to San Francisco, driving is not really the best option no matter what time of the year. The America Cup will certainly test the transportation system in this jam-pack city.
For number two: Considering that America Cup will cover a significant region of San Francisco, its goal to be sustainable will be a strong influence to the city design and business, and will probably inspire relevant industries (transportation, city planning, real estate, public art, advertising, … architecture) to match the same theme in their design and work. I recall that my class team paid a good amount of focus on the open space aspect of the masterplan redesign in our project, and on how to incorporate greenscape and transportation system.
I am strangely looking forward to watching the race despite my lack of yacht knowledge, and I certainly look forward to how the Competition will redesign the city itself. San Francisco Bicycle Coalition has been doing City Rides to introduce people to the current proposals. Sadly, my schedule has been conflicting every ride. The next one is coming up on May 26, which will introduce the North part of the Bay Trail, but the date conflicts with Homestead Skillshare Festival, which I will be attending and volunteering (The festival itself will have workshops on water catchment, place-making, cohousing, urban gardening, disaster preparation, community work, activist communication skills… and Solar Ovens?). Fortunately, SFBC is doing one last bike ride – introducing the South bike trail – in June, and I have every plan to attend.
Until then, Ciao!