india basin

India Basin

Design Guidelines & Standard

AIA California Council Certificate of Merit - Urban Design



India Basin Design Guidelines and Standards provide a comprehensive framework for the transformation of a waterfront project site in Bayview, SanFrancisco. The series of graphics represent the distillation of the project sponsors’s and community’s collective values and aspirations - as manifested through urban development - into explicit, actionable, site- specific improvements. The master plan design is being led by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill (SOM) in collaboration with Bionic Landscape Architects and Gehl Studios.

The redevelopment project presents an unparalleled vision of the future. The transformation of former industrial land through this multiphase, mixed-use development will enable a uniquely pedestrian-first, human-scaled neighborhood where amenities are accessible with a short walk. Urbanity is reimagined as integral with ecology to create a connected, complete and resilient village that contributes to the surrounding community. The principles guiding the design of the project are as listed below: 


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Complete the Neighborhood

At present, the India Basin community at large is in need of many of the basic amenities commonly found in San Francisco’s walkable neighborhoods. The project connects into and augments the neighborhood by adding a wide range of amenities, public services and recreation options so that the surrounding community can meet basic needs within a 10–15 minute walk. 

Shape Public Space for Public Life

India Basin’s focus on public life compels integration of development with a dynamic open space system; interweaving parks, plazas and gathering places with an extensive pedestrian and bicycle network. Scale and configuration of space are modulated to purpose—from the intimate Town Square to the flexible Public Market and expansive waterfront terraces and boardwalks edging the shoreline. 

Craft a Village for the Human Scale

Contemporary development often lacks the attention to detail, articulations, subtle nuance and material quality that condition the richness of experience manifest in pre-modern urbanism. The calibration of form, size, texture, proportion and articulation of physical elements is emphasized to the characteristics of human perception.

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Cultivate a Robust Urban Ecology

India Basin is a dynamic coastal environment with unique hydrology, topography and habitat conditions supportive of a distinctive cross- section of San Francisco Bay ecology. The site presents a rare opportunity to achieve the degree of horizontal and vertical habitat continuity needed to nurture urban biodiversity. 

Foster an Authentic Sense of Place

Embodying a commitment to authenticity, the project embraces the storied history and unique physical characteristics of the site—harnessing its idiosyncratic qualities to create a distinctive sense of place. 

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Advance a Legacy of Stewardship

The India Basin sponsors have made an unparalleled commitment to progressing environmental stewardship and community resilience. Holistic thinking permeates district-wide strategies for water, energy, waste, ecology, habitat creation and shoreline adaptation. 



The approximately 30-acre project site is centrally located among a number of the city’s rapidly transforming Bayview Hunters Point neighborhood. Major redevelopment efforts are expanding housing options and extending transit, community-services and neighborhood amenities into these under-served former industrial areas. 

The shoreline located in India Basin Open Space includes 2.5 acres of mitigation wetlands. New tidal marsh wetlands are proposed as mitigation for impacts and bayfill. The project proposes a long-term robust adaptation approach for the shoreline that can adapt and evolve as tide levels become better defined. Portions of the project site where existing soils are more suitable for development. To promote resilience, development is limited within the area of stable soils. The area of less stable soils is reserved for open space, plazas, rights-of-way and lightweight temporary structures. 


Physical Framework

Derived from the project vision and guiding principles, the physical framework illustrates the opportunities and challenges of India Basin’s contextual setting and elaborates the fundamental organizing concepts for movement, place-making, function, and physical form. The framework shapes and connects the public and private realms—the streets, plazas, parks, buildings and infrastructure, the shoreline and the Bay itself. Systems of movement are layered and woven throughout, intersecting with gathering nodes and moments for interaction or quiet repose. Ecology is integrated across public and private territory, creating a built environment that nurtures habitat, residents, and visitors alike.


Public Realm

Small blocks with many intersections and a network of open spaces provides a variety of engaging pedestrian focused streets, lanes, paths, and trails that encourage walking and biking. While the intensity of activity is focused around the Public Market, the open space plan offers opportunities for a wide array of outdoor activities, fostering social interaction among residents at various scales. The landscape is visually rich and varied, featuring areas for both active recreation and passive enjoyment, while also supporting district wide sustainability objectives for water management and biodiversity. 



The project has established goals for water reuse, electricity distribution & storage, and on-site renewable production as well as an approach to conserving material resources, creating healthy environments, and adapting to changing coastal conditions. 

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India Basin aspires to manage stormwater and wastewater resources on-site and produce non-potable water for the Project’s use. Available water supplies from on-site rainwater, greywater and foundation drainage sources are treated to meet the site’s non-potable demands (toilet flushing and irrigation).


Both centralized and decentralized stormwater facilities will prioritize the use of biotreatment methods, including but not limited to bioretention areas, flow through planters and treatment wetlands. 

Energy and Greenhouse Gas Emissions

The project aims to implement a micro-grid that includes direct current (DC)  and alternating current (AC) electricity distribution to provide increased control over distributed renewable resources, minimize conversion losses, and increase community energy resilience.

Coastal Adaptation

The shoreline area is intended to protect the development and major infrastructure from inundation by situating these improvements at upland elevations. It also intends to create habitats in both the short-term and long-term through material selection for enhanced sea life, pilot projects, and upland habitat migration 


Land Use

The land use strategy for India Basin focuses social interaction along main routes and around key open spaces. In order to create a complete neighborhood, India Basin includes allowance for a variety of social amenities and services including a grocery store, small scale retail and commercial spaces, F&B options, and a school in addition to a spacious public park with recreational facilities and waterfront access. A Public Market provides the centerpiece of the neighborhood with the flexibility to accommodate a range of social activities including: farmers and craft markets, music and art festivals, and large community gatherings.

The land use designations for India Basin (Mixed Use, Residential Mixed Use, Multi-Family Residential, Public, Park/Plaza and Shoreline) advance a 21st Century model for a healthy, vibrant and complete neighborhood. Streets of varying types and levels of activity, differentiated by function are featured within the circulation network, as well as by configuration and adjacent uses. Parking supports urban functions, but can also detract from the experience of place. Reducing the presence of automobiles in the public realm makes streets and open spaces more comfortable, attractive and welcoming for pedestrians.


Urban Form

As a pedestrian-priority community, India Basin is intended to be experienced at a walkable pace. This requires the calibration of Form, Proportion, Articulation, Variation, Modulation, Depth, Materiality, Texture, and Color of physical elements to the speed, range and capabilities of human sensory perception. Detail has been focused on the zone of experience in the public realm – to the open space edges, rights-of-way, lower-floors of buildings and to the threshold interface between public and private.

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Break down facades into discrete components in order to create a diverse and rich urban environment

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Emphasize building massing direction and articulations towards open space and waterfront

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Create a contiguous and well-defined active ground floor and streetwall that promotes social interactions and a strong street presence.

Setbacks and Stepbacks

Establish adequate relationship between the public and private realm.



Composition of buildings and spaces emphasize diversity with complementarity. The Architecture guidelines are organized according to building element: Base, Façade, Roof, and Systems Performance, describing desired outcomes which are illustrated by a non-exhaustive selection of possible strategies. Flexibility is preserved to enable and encourage a variety of architectural responses. An architecture for the Human Scale compels Variety, Tectonics and Resonance. 


Modulation of the ground floor on 4 to 5-second intervals at average walking speed provides a frequency of new activities and sights that helps to stimulate the feel of a vibrant environment


Buildings that provide an active and transparent threshold create an engaging interface between exterior and interior uses, this can be achieved through a fluidity between public and private realms, variation, modulation and articulation. 


Roof design is integral to building character, thoughtfully-designed roofs can provide amenity, support habitat, and supply green energy.

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Building Energy Performance

In accordance to San Francisco's Title 24,  India Basin aspires to be a leader in building energy efficiency targeting net zero energy operation for low-rise residential buildings by 2020 with a 2030 target date for non-residential and high rise residential buildings.

Modulation strategies are occupiable façade elements that are generally less than five feet in depth. Modulation strategies involve creating volumetric shifts that result in proportional parts—or “modules”— in an architectural façade. These strategies may be rhythmic or asymmetric.

Articulation strategies are non-occupiable expressions of material properties, craft, treatment, pattern and assembly, which comprise the depth of the façade. Articulation and material application shall reinforce building massing and modulation strategies to create a cohesive façade system.