URBAN CANOPY
SOMAs Mixed Media Library & Open-Air Reading Space
University of California, Berkeley | Professor Renee Chow | Fall 2017

Urban Canopy is animated by the SoMa District’s pedestrian activity and water patterns. Previously a wetland before its infill in the mid-1800s, the site is vulnerable to San Franscisco’s sewer system overflows; bioretention is incorporated to manage stormwater.  Formally, the expressive roof of Urban Canopy controls water flow, folds upward at structural connections, permits city peek-out points, and provides diffuse light through its translucent materiality, ideal for reading. Public use continues underground to connect people to the historic layering of SoMa. 

Additionally, the rigid 25’ division of SOMA is integrated in the library’s design through the layout of primary spaces. A gradient of enclosure systems blurs this division and adapts to San Francisco’s seasons.  Water activates the project; rain can drum on the project roof, cascade over the screening system, flow down the green belt along Fifth St and downhill to Mission Creek.

URBAN CANOPY
SOMAs Mixed Media Library & Open-Air Reading Space
University of California, Berkeley | Professor Renee Chow | Fall 2017

Urban Canopy is animated by the SoMa District’s pedestrian activity and water patterns. Previously a wetland before its infill in the mid-1800s, the site is vulnerable to San Franscisco’s sewer system overflows; bioretention is incorporated to manage stormwater.  Formally, the expressive roof of Urban Canopy controls water flow, folds upward at structural connections, permits city peek-out points, and provides diffuse light through its translucent materiality, ideal for reading. Public use continues underground to connect people to the historic layering of SoMa. 

Additionally, the rigid 25’ division of SOMA is integrated in the library’s design through the layout of primary spaces. A gradient of enclosure systems blurs this division and adapts to San Francisco’s seasons.  Water activates the project; rain can drum on the project roof, cascade over the screening system, flow down the green belt along Fifth St and downhill to Mission Creek.

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SANTA FE
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SANTA FE
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TREEHOUSE
Oakland's Timber Tower
James R. Boyce Affordable Housing Studio | Spring 2018, reworked Spring 2019

 A treehouse is an endeared structure for growing families to play within, share their stories, and seek refuge elevated by the limbs of a living resource. This suburban backyard space has filled many of our childhood lives with wonder.

In contrast, modern cities often lack similar sensory spaces and are also observed to be much less hospitable areas for children to grow. According to 2017 Census estimates, Oakland’s downtown district experiences 1/3 of the population proportion of young children (ages 0-10) when compared to Oakland’s less dense districts.

As one of the world’s tallest timber towers, Oakland’s Treehouse creates opportunities for its community to connect with each other, the surrounding city, and the structural warmth of wood. The first two levels, open to the public, operate as the root system for Treehouse, providing spaces for retail and services. Residential floors on levels 3-24 provide 153 environmentally conscious homes ranging from spacious studios to three-bedroom apartments. Sunny indoor and outdoor spaces for the residential community to gather are terraced throughout the tower. A feature staircase, with views of the Bay Area, links residential units to these social spaces, further encouraging conversation between levels.

Floor Plans

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Construction Detail

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Upon returning to sky their homes, residents can observe their place in the city, protected underneath exposed wood. Treehouse serves as an incubator, too, for the workers that complement its nurturing environment. Standing 275 feet tall, Treehouse is a seed for how downtown Oakland ‘s architecture can engage a denser community where even the youngest minds can be captivated.

JULY 2020