Uber Advanced Technologies Group R&D Center

Marcy Wong Donn Logan Architects


Uber Advanced Technologies Group is a self-driving technologies R&D team. Fittingly, within San Francisco's historic Pier 70 ship repair yard structures, Uber extends into the 21stC the legacy of transportation endeavors within industrial ship-buildings dating to the 19thC.

The project's four structures of "20th-Street Historic Buildings at Pier 70" were originally constructed at various times between 1885 and 1937. Four connected, unromantically named "Buildings 113, 114, 115, 116" originated in different decades, and have diverse construction types and materials, including un-reinforced masonry, reinforced concrete, and wood or steel trusses. The challenges in accommodating a state-of-the-art technology company into a physically deteriorating and seismically substandard historic building, were technical and architectural. Fortunately, the old buildings are blessed with great architectural "bones", magnificent potential natural light from skylights and windows, plus iconic "craneways" in dramatic volumes that allowed the insertion of mezzanines, bridges and stairs. In addition to the physical elements of architecture, architectural lighting shaped the spaces, defined functions and highlighted emblematic industrial artifacts (such as the yellow cranes).

This adaptive-reuse is noteworthy for not only the contrast but also the similarity of historical and new uses in "Buildings 113, 114, 115,116" at what was until a few decades ago, a complex that was home to Bethlehem Shipbuilding - one of the largest shipyards on the west coast. Today Pier 70, of which this project is a significant part, is regarded as the best preserved 19th century industrial complex west of the Mississippi.

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