More than 90 percent of our goods are transported around the globe in shipping containers. There are over 17 million of these vessels in the world—many easily available for very little money—so it is no wonder architects and designers are looking for ways to repurpose idle units. Most recently, the shipping container has found its way to a high-profile project on the San Francisco waterfront, south of AT&T Park, which opened in March.
The Yard at Mission Rock, located on an empty parking lot at the corner of 3rd Street and Terry Francois Boulevard, will one day be home to a 1.7 million-square-foot, mixed-used development featuring a 5.5-acre waterfront park, dubbed Mission Rock. But for now, site architects Gehl Studio and OpenScope Studio hope their temporary project will create a village-like atmosphere.
Groupings of stacked shipping containers bring local restaurants, cultural events, and retail to the area. There’s a beer garden, and tenants include The North Face store, SFMade, and Off the Grid. There are also spaces for relaxing, lounging, and socializing woven throughout, with plantings, chairs, and steps that can be used as seats and patios.
Transport Products Unlimited and American Transportation Services provided the 13 modified shipping containers, with the San Leandro–based company UrbanBloc designing and building the interiors.
“The project is a work in progress of measuring, testing, and refining,” said Gehl Studio. “Through early activation we can prototype the conditions of quality urbanity—the social life, chance encounters, and opportunities for discovery—that generate the welcoming feeling of a city space for people.”
While the designers and the San Francisco Giants see The Yard as a space for people to meet during game time, they also hope it will attract people for community events such as concerts, yoga, cooking demos, a farmer’s market, happy hours, and, of course, for the food.
The Giants funded the $2.5 million cost of the project, and are renting the site from the Port of San Francisco. The Yard is expected to stay up for two to three years, until Mission Rock construction starts. The shipping containers may be moved elsewhere.