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A former military base becomes a substation with public amenities

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A former military base becomes a substation with public amenities

Urban Planning

A former military base becomes a substation with public amenities

In San Francisco’s Hunters Point neighborhood, a new three-story project will replace an existing substation while providing a public outdoor plaza.


By Novid Parsi, Contributing Editor | July 28, 2022
Hunters Point Substation ext
Courtesy Tatiana Bilbao Estudio.

On the site of a former military base in the Hunters Point neighborhood of San Francisco, a new three-story substation will house critical electrical infrastructure to replace an existing substation across the street. The new substation will improve the reliability and resilience of the electrical grid “and foster a tighter-knit community,” according to a press statement.

But the Hunters Point Substation will do more than meet the utility’s practical needs. Designed by San Francisco’s TEF Design and Mexico City’s Tatiana Bilbao Estudio, the project also will provide public amenities designed through community engagement—part of an urban architecture trend of designing public utility structures with community amenities.

The project is part of a larger development that includes several planned parks and trails. The 30,000-square-foot building is positioned to support efficient utility configuration as well as to create an outdoor plaza that will serve the surrounding neighborhood. The building team used computational fluid dynamics to develop the building’s stacked-bars form, achieving maximum thermal efficiency. 

The building’s form is also intended to create a distinctive landmark. Its concrete façade, which will involve a precast concrete process, is meant to suggest rammed earth. A pattern of geometric shapes continues throughout the project, including the plaza pavers and façade perforations.

The Hunters Point Substation aims to be net-zero, achieving Zero Energy Certification by the International Living Future Institute. Its energy strategies include photovoltaics, natural ventilation, and efficient building systems. The project is expected to be completed by fall 2023.

On the Building Team:
Owner: PG&E 
Architect of record: TEF Design 
Design architect: Tatiana Bilbao Estudio
Landscape: Creo Landscape Architecture 
Mechanical/electrical: MHC Engineers, Inc. and ACG Engineer Inc. 
Civil engineer: BKF Engineers  
Structural engineer: Forell Elsesser Engineers, Inc. 

Hunters Point Substation collage ext 2
Courtesy Tatiana Bilbao Estudio.
Hunters Point Substation model 1
Courtesy Tatiana Bilbao Estudio.
Hunters Point Substation model 2
Courtesy Tatiana Bilbao Estudio.
Hunters Point Substation model 3
Courtesy Tatiana Bilbao Estudio.
Hunters Point Substation model 4
Courtesy Tatiana Bilbao Estudio.

 

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