Aging facilities, some of which are structurally unsound and date back to the 1950s, led to this project that involves the complete upgrade or replacement of the solids handling processes at the San Francisco Public Utility Commission’s Southeast Plant. The processes addressed include solids thickening, solids dewatering, odor control, and most notably - anaerobic digestion facilities. Upgrades and replacements at the plant will occur for up to ten years, making community outreach an essential part of the design process.
Located in an existing, culturally diverse, and historically disenfranchised neighborhood, a significant driver for this project is the need to improve the plant’s odor, noise, traffic, and aesthetic impacts on the surrounding community. Larger facilities are sited near the train line and the plant interior to reduce their visual impact on the surrounding residential neighborhood.
Contemporary building façades and streetscapes are designed to improve the pedestrian experience both inside the facility and along the public perimeter. A large courtyard welcomes plant staff and registered visitors to the Southeast Plant. Natural landscaping and interwoven walking paths transition this industrial site into a usable community space.
The goal is to improve the plant and provide tangible benefits and amenities to the community. The architectural aesthetic will relate to and transition between the industrial and residential characteristics of the surrounding neighborhood.
A variety of neighborhood revitalization projects now underway offer a unique opportunity for this project to contribute to these positive transformations and become a catalyst for future improvements in this neighborhood.
Responding to the culture of the community in which it resides, art and visitor education will be integrated at key points around the public edges. A tour route will highlight the biosolids process, provide views into process areas and demonstration areas, and incorporate interpretive signage to encourage access and education. The tour route runs through the lobby, wraps around the large balcony, and concludes in the learning center.
The SFPUC Southeast Plant Biosolids Digester Facilities earned the Envision® Platinum award for sustainable infrastructure, which considers the following: quality of life, leadership, resource allocation, the natural world, climate, and risk.