A Bridge to the Past
The Ropewalk is located in the San Francisco’s Historic Dogpatch Historic District. The site was once home to the Tubbs Cordage Company, a maritime ropemaking factory, whose pier extended far out into the waters of the bay. The site once mediated the boundary between water and land. Taking inspiration from the site’s industrial past, ecological past, and maritime history, we designed an engaging public passageway that offers the opportunities to interact with its history. The design consists of a meandering elevated boardwalk, which floats over a constructed bio-retention wetland and connects two distinctly different public plazas. These plazas feature an outdoor museum, interactive art, and a variety of custom designed furnishings.
The Dogpatch Ropewalk is a series of engaging community spaces, green infrastructures, and a celebration of maritime history. A meandering elevated boardwalk, which floats over a constructed bioretention wetland and connects an interactive plaza with an outdoor museum.
Dogpatch Ropewalk, San Francisco, CA
Neighborhood: Dogpatch, San Francisco
Date: 2018 Completed
Size: .5 acre
Features: Green Infastructure, Historic Interpretation
Press and Awards: ASLA National Honor Award
The Water Plaza
The ‘Water’ plaza is closest to the neighborhood’s arterial roadway, Third Street, and is the most abstract and ethereal of the three zones. Here, ghosts of the past inspire the unusual form of a family of Nomads, through a collection of sculptural steel benches that appear to walk through the space. Adjacent to these benches, an interactive art installation – the ‘Rope-Tying Station’ - encourages passersby to touch rope and to learn maritime knots. Steel poles with cabling serve to both light the space and to reference ship masts and rigging.
The ‘Marsh’ zone draws visitors from the activity of the Water plaza through the site to the more contemplative ‘Shore’ plaza. In the Marsh zone, the main feature is an elevated wood and steel boardwalk that references the original Tubbs Cordage pier. This boardwalk is suspended over a constructed wetland, relating to the marsh that existed at this location.
The Industrial Plaza
The ‘Industrial’ plaza is the most concrete in its significance and symbolism, utilizing above-grade transformers as a surface for historic image collages and original imagery of the Tubbs Cordage Factory and Ropewalk. This permanent public exhibition surrounds a public plaza with seating and a massive corten steel community table, to evoke the historic pier.
The project serves to process stormwater from the Abaca Apartments on an adjacent site. The Marsh area functions as a bio-retention area, collecting the rainwater from the building and the entire site, filtering pollutants and slowing the release of water into the combined sewer system. Surplus irrigation water is collected and distributed evenly throughout the space to irrigate plantings year round.
Three distinct material palettes define the three spaces. The Water plaza is an abstract space of the past, and has a silver palette of metals, paving, and paint. The wood used in the Marsh zone bridge, allows visitors to connect with the pier’s historic materiality. The Industrial plaza is defined by dark materials and rusting steel that references the site’s darker past.