Baylands Speakers Series

Printer-friendly versionIn preparation for the development of alternatives to the project, the City has engaged several outstanding speakers who will focus on relevant topics to this process. The speaker series is intended to be insightful, informative, and thought provoking.  Video is shown where it is available - it is also available in at City Hall.

The Art of Architecture in the Age of Ecology

June 23, 2006
James Wines, President and Creative Director of SITE, a New York based Art and Architecture firm

Mr. Wines highlighted the importance of the relationship between architecture, landscape design and the visual arts, as we respond to the potential impacts of development on the ecology of a site.  He explored the gaps that that must be bridged between these disciplines, in order to bring this green building revolution together, in a comprehensive and responsible fashion.  He looked at the social, psychological, artistic and ecological concerns that need to be addressed to shape the future of the built environment in a manner which is both ecologically sound and aesthetically pleasing.

Value of Public Recreation Facilities and Open Space Land to a Community

February 13, 2007
Dr. John Crompton, Texas A&M University, Department of Recreation, Park and Tourism Sciences

Recreational activities, parks and open spaces fulfill a wide range of human needs, ranging from the physical to the social and psychological.  The value of parks and open space extends beyond the obvious functional and aesthetic benefits, but into the economic realm as well.  His insights and case studies illustrating the economic value of open space to both nearby property owners and the community are a valuable lesson for the City as the Baylands process moves forward.

Alternative Energy Systems

March 12, 2007
(click on names to download their presentations)
John Doyle
,  Manager, Energy Generation Projects San Francisco Public Utilities Commission; Todd Thorner, Vice President and Founder of Foresight Wind Energy; Rick Nuessle, Next Energy Solar Company; George Wagner, Vice President and Co-Founder of Wind Harvest; Paul Fenn, Founder and CEO, Local Power

Mr. Doyle discussed the design and implementation of a number of renewable energy generation projects around the San Francisco area (i.e. solar panel on Moscone Center), including their challenges.  
Mr. Thorner provided an overview of how utility-scale wind power generation facilities are developed.  He described advances in propeller turbine technology, and factors in evaluating site suitability.     
Mr Nuessle provide an in depth discussion of solar technology and demonstrated that while shortages of materials for the production of solar cells is an issue, the potential return on investment is enormous.
Mr. Wagner explained the efficiency and simplicity of the vertical wind turbine technology (as opposed to the propeller type), and provided a historical perspective of the alternative energy industry in California.
Mr. Fenn discussed "community choice aggregation," a legal approach whereby a City can control its power supply purchasing, thereby allowing it to preferentially invest in alternative energy sources.  He discussed a preliminary study undertaken by a class he taught at SFSU which demonstrated the site's feasibility for wind and solar energy development, and strongly encouraged the City to explore this option.

The Economics of Redevelopment

March 22, 2007
Tom Murphy, former Mayor, Pittsburgh, PA; Michael Cohen, Director, Base Reuse and Revelopment Team, San Francisco Mayor's Office; Chris Meany, Partner, Wilson, Meany, Sullivan, a San Francisco development company

Mr. Murphy discussed the renaissance of Pittsburgh that occurred during his tenure as Mayor.  He encouraged the City to develop a vision for itself and the Baylands as the first step in the development process.  
Mr. Meany described the development plan for Treasure Island, San Francisco.  He discussed one fundamental concept for a successful development- namely that the economic return of a project must be sufficient to cover the costs of the desired public benefits.  
Mr. Cohen discussed the development of Treasure Island from the City of San Francisco's perspective.  He noted the development was an opportunity to realize public benefits and amenities without cost or risk to the City at large.  He emphasized that there needs to be a partnership between the developer and City to make a project of this magnitude a reality.    

Transit and Land Use

April 2, 2007
Alan Hoffman, Mission Group, San Diego-based planning firm specializing in strategies for transportation and urban development.

Mr. Hoffman observed that successful transit systems are based on three fundamental principles:  1) They get people from where they are to where they want to be; 2) They get people to their destinations in a timely way;  and 3)  They make people feel good about the experience.  He added that the mode of transit (ie train or trolley or bus) is secondary.  He illustrated how bus rapid transit is designed and successfully implemented in many countries.  He suggested that there are transit opportunities on the Baylands, when viewed in a regional context, but that the project alone would not sustain meaningful, economically viable transit.     

Zero Carbon/Zero Waste Mixed Use Developments

October 29, 2007
Greg Searle, Executive Director, Bioregional North America/One Planet Living

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Mr. Searle discussed how western lifestyles result in the use of resources that far exceed their rate of replenishment, and how the goal of his organization is to provide examples of how to live within our means as a planet.  He discussed the One Planet Living Bedzed development in England, which was designed to optimize sustainability.  He characterized the organizing principals of sustainability as zero carbon and waste, sustainable transportation, food and water, local materials, natural habitats and wildlife, culture and heritage, equity and fair trade, and health and happiness.  He noted that while green design is important, lifestyle choices are equally important in reducing the ecological footprint. 

Natural Capitalism Strategies for Sustainability

November 14, 2007
L. Hunter Lovins, President and Founder, Natural Capitalism Solutions, and Founding Professor of Business at Presidio School of Management

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Global reinvention around the paradigm of sustainability will require unprecedented cooperation among business, government and citizens.  Ms. Lovins suggested that lessons learned from nature can translate into a business model of natural capitalism, thereby increasing efficiency and productivity, closing production loops to eliminate waste, and restoring human and natural capital.  She noted that the integrated bottom line of sustainability is catching on with business, as these efforts translate into cost savings while reducing environmental impacts.  

Iconic Architecture and Landscapes

November 16, 2007
Charles Jencks, Author and Architectural Historian

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Dr. Jencks discussed the history and role of iconic buildings.  He discussed the "Bilbao Effect", the implications of the Frank Gehry-designed Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao, Spain, which has generated an estimated $100 M annually in tourism.  He pointed out that iconic buildings elicit powerful reactions, both positive and negative.   Dr. Jencks further discussed his Garden of Cosmic Speculation design, wherein various natural forms ranging from the sub-cellular to the galactic were represented through the combination of landform and art.

In regard to the Baylands, Dr. Jencks suggested the site is an opportunity for rebirth, and should be tied to the San Bruno Mountains.  He noted the opportunity for a significant urban park and the need for 3 or 4 anchors to make it viable, from both an economic and vitality perspective.  He suggested such uses as a Guggenheim Museum, Pacific Rim Art museum, corporate headquarters or sustainability/tech institution as examples the City might want to target.  He further discussed the regional context of the site as a gateway to San Francisco, and suggested 4 significant open space features along the north/south length of the project to reinforce the open space image.

Ecocities: Rebuilding Cities in Balance with Nature

December 3, 2007   
Richard Register, Urban Ecologist and Author

Mr. Register discussed  the need to bring nature back into cities, and provided a number of examples of how this is being accomplished, such as daylighting streams, passive architectural design, and green roofs.  He endorsed wind and solar energy sources.  He stated his opposition to transportation or technological solutions intended to improve automobile efficiency, as they would detract from the desired solution of creating denser, more compact cities which do not require the automobile for mobility.  He acknowledged the difficulty of creating this urban form, noting that it has not been achieved in his 30-plus years of advocacy.