Winners Proposals Suggest Alternatives for San Francisco's 280 Freeway

The Center for Architecture + Design and the Seed Fund announced the winners of the Reimagine. Reconnect. Restore What if 280 came down?, a competition that explored the idea of removing San Francisco's 280 Freeway, north of 16th Street, in an effort to pedestrianize that portion of the city while generating funds for several regionally important transit projects. The open competition, which encouraged designers to submit urban design interventions, from public art to infrastructure, awarded $10,000 in prizes.

This is not the first time that San Francisco has demolished a freeway to successfully revitalize a neighborhood (remember the Embarcadero and the Hayes Valley?) and it certainly isn't a first for other American cities, either. In fact, demolishing old, ineffective and/or obstructive freeways has become a powerful vehicle for urban change in this country and the 280 Freeway Competition is just one example of that trend.


The current state of the 280 site. Image Courtesy of SocketSite

Special Recognition: Seismic Harvest

Seismic Harvest by D.IS.H. Image Courtesy of The Center for Architecture + Design

Historically in San Francisco, demolishing freeways comes in the political and emotional aftermath of an earthquake. Through the community garden, commercial organic farm, and waterfront development, D.IS.H created Seismic Harvest to integrate earthquake simulators re-imagined as harvesting systems. The master plan redefines the city’s history with removing freeways to harvest a new community.


ARC DE DEFE[E]T by Jonathan Bradley and Ye Bao. Image Courtesy of The Center for Architecture + Design

ARC DE DEFE[E]T, by Academy of Art University graduate students Jonathan Bradley and Ye Bao, creates demand for bikes by giving them away to the people that choose to park their automobiles at one of the existing parking structures of Mission Bay. With the growing demand for a healthier environment and the growing production of automobiles to facilitate the world’s population transportation needs, 280 highway is a perfect building typology to subvert our dependence on the automobile.


Fieldshift by Erik Jensen and Justin Richardson. Image Courtesy of The Center for Architecture + Design

In Fieldshift, by students Erik Jensen and Justin Richardson, the field challenges spreading, high-end exclusionary development and prioritizes affordability in its surrounding neighborhoods. A localized honest adaptation of the scar alongside an at-grade approach to the city center, via rail, minimizes absorbed real estate costs. This maximizes the city’s ability to retain public land for housing in the parcels outside the domain of the chosen site.


Highlink by Brian Vargo. Image Courtesy of The Center for Architecture + Design

With Highlink, Brian Vargo envisions the existing structure of a highway overpass as a vibrant pedestrian promenade. From ‘highway’ to ‘highlink,’ the project reconnects Mission Bay to the city, adds value to its greater surroundings, and practices the progressive sustainability that gives San Francisco its unique identity.


Salt Sand Sieve by Katherine Jenkins and Parker Sutton. Image Courtesy of The Center for Architecture + Design

Katherine Jenkins and Parker Sutton’s Salt Sand Sieve proposes a field of urban dunes to generate a porous and ecologically diverse shoreline and to establish a sensory landscape informed by the meter of the highway and the forces of the Bay.

Project Descriptions courtesy of The Center for Architecture + Design

References: The Center for Architecture + Design, SocketSite

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Cite: Barbara Porada. "Winners Proposals Suggest Alternatives for San Francisco's 280 Freeway" 07 Sep 2013. ArchDaily. Accessed . <> ISSN 0719-8884

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