San Francisco ain't much for big trains these days. But big development atop the embers of its industrial past is a burgeoning enterprise. The present-day marsh and future stadium was, formerly, a train depot, a cement plant, then a parking lot.

Perhaps it's understandable why the structures mushrooming here are so banal and hideous. It's challenging to offer an architectural nod to a realm marked by reclamation from the sea via landfill, industrial warehousing, industrial decay, and, incongruously, a driving range in the midst of a city where land is valued like beluga caviar.

Attempts to do so can come off a bit ridiculous. Before pulling the plug on a massive office park, Salesforce put forth plans to do up the land in a way a gosling might appreciate: "Landscaping of the open spaces will include various water features that lead from 3rd Street to Terry Francois Blvd, the visual axis to the Bay — fountains, runnels, a large vernal pool that will expand and contract, depending on the season or use in the center, terminating in a wetlands mazes [sic] that celebrate and connect the space to the Bay."

A marsh on the proposed Warriors stadium site has an unexpected history.
Mike Koozmin
A marsh on the proposed Warriors stadium site has an unexpected history.
A red-winged blackbird, has colors more akin to a San Francisco Giant.
Mike Koozmin
A red-winged blackbird, has colors more akin to a San Francisco Giant.

Last week, SF Weekly broke the story that the Warriors had finally abandoned the increasingly ludicrous proposition of erecting a waterfront-clogging stadium atop derelict piers unfit to host a flamenco troupe. Team flacks and personnel put on a master class in not returning our phone calls or messages and, when they deigned to do so, were not in a position to opine on whether a future Mission Bay stadium will come equipped with vernal pools and a wetlands mazes [sic].

A well-known architectural trope is that mazes do not mix with fans who've enjoyed a beer or two at a ballgame. Let's assume that's a nonstarter. What is certain, however, is that the team won't be forced to appease the gauntlet of overlapping federal, state, and local regulatory bodies overseeing development on piers and waterfront land, as the previous plan would've required; the Bay Conservation and Development Commission's jurisdiction stretches only 100 feet inland.

The Warriors' site is 115 feet off the shore. In basketball terms, the team is now lined up for a free throw as opposed to a half-court heave.

The bird-watcher and your humble narrator wander away from the wetland, over the train tracks, and toward parts of the city in which the buildings don't resemble Rubik's Cubes. Transforming the refuge of birds and birders alike into a glimmering stadium appears to be something that won't require an act of God, to say the least.

San Francisco is a complicated place. Emotional attachments to nature scenes lead to nostalgia over a ditch in a vacant lot. A murky ditch atop landfill. A hole once buried beneath a cement plant and a rail yard and filled with contaminated earth. Now, a locale without a heart and soul is poised to become the heart and soul of the city. A dilapidated scrap of land will be transmuted into a gem. People will flock here from miles around.

And then they'll go home. The birds, meanwhile, will be merely the latest San Francisco residents forced to fly from this city.

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1 comments
birdsongs
birdsongs

Good observations, appreciate the insight.  Hopefully generations down the road will appreciate the Warriors Stadium and the sacrifices made by mother nature and her

fine feathered friends.

 
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