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Playing Ball
Snohetta reveals updates to San Francisco's waterfront arena.
The new design features a smaller footprint and more public space.
Courtesy Snohetta

The same week that it unveiled its design for a grand stair at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (SFMOMA), Snøhetta revealed updated designs for the Golden State Warriors arena, located on a 13-acre site at Piers 30–32 on the City by the Bay’s waterfront. The plans, presented after a year and a half of talks with citizens and city agencies, now include an entertainment pavilion and waterfront plaza.

The new design also reduced the size of the arena to 695,000 gross square feet, with space to accommodate just over 18,000 seats, and expanded the open public space at pier level to just under four acres, with total open public space at eight acres. Parks, plazas, and paths with water views will provide views of the bay. The new design reflects a desire to attract not only basketball fans, but also other locals and visitors who want to explore the waterfront by foot and by bike.


“The biggest challenge has been negotiating the incredible amount of feedback we have received from city and state agencies and the community while maintaining the energy and spirit of the design and ambitions of the owners,” said Nic Rader, project manager at Snøhetta. “The concept is based on maximizing views to the bay and Bay Bridge, [facilitating] access to the site, and providing a public amenity second to none in San Francisco.”

If the design makes it through city and public approval processes, construction will be privately financed on the city-provided land, with the Warriors funding an estimated $120 to $170 million to repair the piers. Completion is expected by 2017.


By 2016, visitors to Snøhetta’s new wing at SFMOMA will find themselves entering the building in the transformed Haas atrium, originally designed by Swiss architect Mario Botta. An open cantilevered staircase by Snøhetta with seating below, and a yet-to-be announced art installation (renderings depict the former art installation by Sol LeWitt), will fill the space.

Snøhetta removed the Botta-designed, four-level stair, which concealed much of the original oculus. They aim to create a more airy and seamless transition between major museum areas through a switchback design that echoes the mighty hills of San Francisco, with landings that will let visitors catch glimpses of an outdoor terrace and vertical garden while ascending, and views of the atrium when descending.

Ariel Rosenstock