August 8, 2007


by Evelyn Lee

Treasure Island, Green, San Francisco, Organic Farming, wind farm, tidal marshes

San Francisco Bay’s islands are going green, first with the renovation of Alcatraz, and now with the major redevelopment of a completely sustainable city on Treasure Island. The 400-acre man-made island, originally built for The World’s Fair in 1939, will once again be a showcase for design excellence- this time going totally sustainable. The revamped Treasure Island will include 6,000 units of housing in both low-rise and high-rise buildings, restaurants, a ferry terminal, as well as a 20-acre organic farm, an ecological educational and art park, shoreline park, wind farm, and plenty of green space in the forms of parkland and runoff-filtering wetlands.

Treasure Island, Green, San Francisco, Organic Farming, wind farm, tidal marshes

All is underway with the approval this last December from the San Francisco Board of Supervisors for a self-sustaining city that encompasses a major urban renewal. The actual development plans only occupies 100 of the 400-acre island, which means high density, pedestrian and bike-friendly neighborhoods is in this little island’s future.

Planning for the redevelopment of Treasure Island started back in 2001 through a request for proposals. Skidmore, Owning and Merrill (SOM) lead the design team for the development, supported by two local San Francisco firms, SMWM and CMG Landscape Architects. In the development phase, Arup was brought in to advise on transportation planning, site infrastructure and sustainability strategies. Scheduled completion for this significant self-sustaining community is planned for 2022 with the first new residents occupying new sustainable towers as early as 2013.

Treasure Island, Green, San Francisco, Organic Farming, wind farm, tidal marshes

SOM partner Craig Hartman hopes treasure island will serve as “a new national model for what a wholly sustainable community can be about.” San Francisco’s Department of the Environment couldn’t agree more. This video includes comments from Jennier Kass, from the Dept. of the Environment, explaining all the sustainable aspects of the new development:

+ CMG Landscape Architects
+ San Francisco’s Department of the Environment


User Gravatar

And how far above sea level is this man-made island?

User Gravatar

I’ll answer my own question. It appears to be 10 feet above sea level at most.

Also, from Wikipedia:
“Another risk of living on Treasure Island is the high risk of liquefaction during an earthquake. All of Treasure Island is built on landfill, and few if any of the buildings on the island were built to withstand a major earthquake, especially an earthquake magnified by liquefaction”

User Gravatar
Sam Says:

Doesn’t that high rise in the first rendering remind you of another recent post: ?

Any news as to how much living on this island will cost? Will it be affordable, or will this just be an eco-friendly country club? Mixed income housing would be cool and would do more to prove that this model of living is realistic.

User Gravatar
michael B Says:

Just a technicality, but the 1939 World’s Fair was in New York. The 1939 World’s Fair was a milestone in design, The fair in SF in 1939 was the “golden gate international exhibition” two very differnet fairs.

User Gravatar

[...] dejado un espacio degradado y contaminado que, todavía, no ha sido totalmente restaurado. Existen planes para convertir la isla en un modelo ecológico en el que la gente pueda vivir y trabajar [...]

User Gravatar
rcsf Says:

30% of the island’s 6,000 projected units are set aside to be below-market-rate affordable, 2X the current affordable housing inclusionary housing requirement of 15%.

William Mcdonough assisted the City and consultants teams to develop a sustainability plan for the design, construction, and operation of the development. Part 1 is here:, Part 2 is here:

Regarding the sea level, this being addressed (finish floor levels are all stepped up approximately 12-18″ above datum), but I agree that this needs a closer look aas plans move forward. Build-out projected around 2018.

User Gravatar

I love the last image of the view of the re-developed bay from the shoreline, it looks like the city of the future resting on an island, its almost Atlantian.


User Gravatar

This is an inspiration to develop more communities like this!

User Gravatar

[...] redevelop it. I was happily surprised with the sustainable and green plan they came up with. Inhabit has a whole feature including video for those interested. Vote or submit article to: [...]

User Gravatar
ony Acerra Says:

I have been metal framing for 28 years. I hope you plan on using as much metal as possible in you building process as possible. It is lighter,stronger, fire-resistant, and greener than wood. Also, bugs don’t like it.

User Gravatar
disc0vear Says:

So not only did you neglect to mention the massive levels of radiation and chemical contamination that the navy left behind and still hasn’t cleaned up, when you talked about “ideally growing food here” but you also didn’t mention how the island is made of landfill and dredged bay soil… meaning it’s not grounded to the bedrock and subsequently, in the event of a mildly significant earthquake all of those high-rise buildings will be seriously damaged. So when you come and kick me and my neighbors off of Treasure Island to gentrify it, I hope you can finally clean up the contamination and demo the condemned buildings for all the yuppies who’ll take us poor people’s places… because we middle and lower-class citizens aren’t worth it. Make no mistake there will be no mixed-income housing here, or at least their idea of affordable housing will most likely be about $4000 for a studio apartment. I’m all for sustainability, this plan is unconscionable, biased, and careless.

Leave a Comment

Please keep your comments relevant to this blog entry. Email addresses are never displayed, but they are required to confirm your comments.

Please note that gratuitous links to your site are viewed as spam and may result in removed comments.



Lost your password?

Add your comments