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The Canyon – A Unique Cityscape Pierces San Francisco’s Skies

MVRDV, the Dutch architect, has recently completed and opened its latest project, The Canyon, in San Francisco. This impressive structure stands at a height of 73 meters with 23 stories, located in the Mission Rock neighborhood. The building boasts a versatile layout, featuring retail and restaurant spaces on the ground level, two floors dedicated to office space, and a total of 283 apartments for residents.

The Canyon features a “ruggedly textured red-brown façade” that makes it instantly recognizable. There’s a landscaped public “canyon” running diagonally through its base, connecting the offices and shared amenities for residents. The canyon also serves as a shortcut from China Basin Park to the center of the neighborhood.

In the press release, MVRDV stated “The design references Californian rock formations, and features a landscaped public “canyon” that cuts diagonally through the building’s plinth, connecting to the offices and shared amenities for residents. Providing a lush and lively space for both relaxing and working, the canyon also offers a shortcut from China Basin Park to the heart of the neighborhood. The walls of the canyon and the eastern side of the tower are jagged with step-backs and overhangs giving the impression of steep rocky walls”

The Canyon and Other Mission Rock Neighborhood Projects Are Designed for Sustainability

The Canyon is part of Phase 1 buildings of the Mission Rock Neighborhood. These buildings are collaboratively designed by four internationally renowned firms: Studio Gang, Henning Larsen, WorkAC, and MVRDV. Together, they created designs that seamlessly complement each other while maintaining their distinct appearances.

The building designed by WorkAC features a water recycling plant that processes black water (wastewater from toilets and other similar sources) from the entire neighborhood and treats it for reuse. By recycling water, the project promotes sustainability and reduces the strain on freshwater resources. The Canyon, on the other hand, features efficient heating elements. They are hidden in parts of the ground floor and basement, and supply heat to multiple buildings from a central source, improving energy efficiency and reducing the need for individual heating systems in each building. 

Since the project is in the San Francisco Bay area, it gives designers a unique opportunity to use bay water for cooling and heating. By employing a water exchange system, the heat transfer between the bay water and the buildings enhances energy efficiency. This approach reduces the dependence on traditional energy-intensive cooling and heating systems, further leading to decreased energy consumption and lower greenhouse gas emissions.

It’s worth highlighting that the entire infrastructure plan has several benefits. It helps reduce CO2 emissions, lower water usage, and decrease energy consumption, which in turn results in lower utility bills for the tenants. Additionally, the shared infrastructure and sustainable practices contribute to the overall environmental sustainability and resilience of the neighborhood.

Need for sustainable structures

To tackle the pressing challenges of climate change, we need to think about what the future of building design will look like. We need more sustainable structures that incorporate green elements, are built using low-carbon materials, and are resilient to the changing environmental conditions we face.

The Mission Rock neighborhood is set to be LEED Gold-certified. Similarly, firms should aim to acquire as many sustainability certificates as possible. This will not only benefit society and the environment but also show their commitment to achieving net zero.

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