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.