SWA Designs Landscape and Public Realm for Chase Center

SWA Designs Landscape & Public Realm for Chase Center

SWA's San Francisco studio has designed the landscape for Chase Center, the new waterfront home of the Golden State Warriors. Located in a former industrial zone of the emerging Mission Bay neighborhood, the 18,064-seat Chase Center arena and its 10.5-acre entertainment district in SWA's purview form a pedestrian-friendly, year-round destination with 100,000 square feet of retail space, 3.2 acres of plazas or public open space with adjacent offices buildings, art installations and other features.

Accessibility, flexibility and resilience characterize the public realm of the Warrior's new home. The landscape expresses the spirit of the city creating a flexible, accessible public place that is an entertainment venue unto itself. San Francisco residents, neighboring office-goers and visitors-with or without a game ticket-can take in the spectacular views of the Bay, enjoy a picnic lunch, and visit the many retail and dining outlets. A series of outdoor spaces, offering performance and gathering areas that are programmed either to complement events in Chase Center arena or independently, support the site's myriad activities. The result is a mixed-use complex that creates a world-class attraction beyond the NBA basketball team, diversifying its appeal and revenue streams.

Two major features of the landscape design include a 35,000-square-foot central plaza that doubles as event space and a 25,000-square-foot triangular plaza at 16th and Terry Francois streets that hosts a permanent installation, "Seeing Spheres" by Danish artist Olafur Eliasson. The spaces are connected by a wide, spiraling pedestrian path that rises and curves alongside the built arena, echoing its form, tempering its large scale and offering terraces and view platforms to the bay beyond. On the city side, pathways with seating slope towards and meet the ground plane to draw pedestrians from nearby transit and neighborhoods into the plaza's central space.

"This is an urban mixed-use project and as such, it's a bit of a chameleon," noted Rene Bihan, Managing Principal, SWA. "Neighbors can dine alongside the growing workforce and fans of sports and music. We designed the site to offer an urban stroll through a series of connected spaces that change with seasonal and event programming."

Flexibility is seen in the modular landscape's dual role: it directs circulation by guiding thousands of visitors to and from the arena while also offering several gathering places that accommodate those who wish to relax and enjoy seasonal activities. Equivalent to a series of outdoor living rooms, these plazas were designed to remake and animate the space as needed. Custom-designed planters/seating modules are deployed throughout the various plazas to frame different events. The modules can be moved by forklift to create space for ice skating, farmer's markets, an instant micro-garden, or a car show.

Photography: David Lloyd, Courtesy SWA Group