Mission Creek Stormwater Park

San Francisco, CA

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Image Credit: Sam Oberter

Functional Biotreatment Meets Gathering Spaces

Stormwater treatment was the key design factor and function for the park – the San Francisco Public Utilities Commission requires the park to treat offsite stormwater runoff from 13.8 acres of adjacent open space and streets. A series of three vegetated basins and swales span the length of the park. These biotreatment areas are both functional and beautiful; their geometries define gathering spaces and more intimate moments along the adjacent building frontage, distinct from the more exposed promenade along Mission Creek.

The park is a place for passive uses such as strolling, outdoor dining, socializing, and enjoying the waterfront views to complement the more active programs provided by the surrounding Mission Bay open space. The experience is urban, site-specific, and pedestrian-oriented, implementing the planning vision of the Mission Bay design criteria.

The waterfront park experience is defined by its biotreatment basins, commonly known as rain gardens. The design of these gardens is both functional and beautiful; their geometry and native planting create lush and immersive places to gather and buffer more intimate spaces from the open waterfront edge. The rain gardens have the capacity to treat a 90th percentile 24-hour storm event, equivalent to 0.75 inches of rain in 24 hours. In winter of 2023, heavy storms in northern California tested Mission Creek Stormwater Park’s green infrastructure and the stormwater gardens functioned as designed.
Image Credit: Sam Oberter

The park is anchored by two paved plazas at 4th and 3rd Streets, that provide picnic and gathering areas for adjacent retail and crowds attending games and events at the ballpark. The building that fronts the park features an amphitheater that allows visitors to sit and overlook the park and water. Boardwalks extend to small promontories over Mission Creek for unique waterfront access. The park allows for spill-over activity on game days and will be activated by the everyday retail program in the adjacent building—in addition to providing protected circulation along the waterfront for cyclists and pedestrians as part of the Bay Trail.