San Francisco Bay Railroad
Studio VARA was contacted by Rebar (now Gehl) to collaborate on a master planning study for the owner of the San Francisco Bay Railroad, who had originally commissioned Rebar to design a home for his herd of lawn-mowing goats. Since originally taking over this last vestige of the Southeastern Waterfront’s extensive rail system, the owner had both expanded its scope of operations as well as its mission, converting the first commercial diesel engine to biofuel and proving the lowest carbon option for long-haul transportation of materials. Simultaneously, this once obscure site had become more prominent as neighboring parks and neighborhoods were redeveloped and densified, which instigated the owner to commission a new architecture and landscape solution to provide a new public face to his operation.
The scope of the master plan included a new office, a control tower and a covered train maintenance shed, as well as a reimagining of vehicular circulation, parking, landscape, and drainage of the site.
Studio VARA developed massing studies for a combined office & control tower to minimize construction costs and site disruption and collaborated with Rebar on the design of the maintenance shed. The three massing schemes – the “Wall”, the “Boot”, and the“XYZ”- allowed the team to test and visualize the form and fit of the client’s required needs. The schemes aimed to maximize outdoor space for employees and to create an iconic landmark within the industrial landscape of the Southeastern Waterfront.