Target converts former prison dump into latest big-box store

The site was full of hazardous materials, unstable ground when MBH Architects began work

February 27, 2014 |

Recently, MBH Architects was approached by the Target Corporation, who asked them to design a new store in San Rafael, Calf. The problem: the building was slated for the former San Quentin Prison dump site, meaning that the lot was full of hazardous materials and that the ground was unstable.

MBH worked with a team of specialists—from structural, civil, and landscape specialists to experts in methane mitigation, vertical reciprocating conveyors, and onsite lighting—to make the lot suitable for the new store.

The unstable ground had been projected to sink two to three feet over the next 30-40 years. In order to make the building site more stable, the team started by driving prefabricated piles into the ground. In addition, Target San Rafael’s parking lot is connected by elevated walkways that minimize impact to the ground.

To counteract potentially hazardous materials, vents have been installed throughout the site and parking light poles release the methane build-up.

The LEED Gold-certified store features a number of green features, including 17 electric car chargers, solar panels, and a stormwater recycling system.


Before construction, the site was a literal dump.

Overlay Init