The Canyon San Francisco tower building, MVRDV North Californian office architecture, SF waterfront high-rise photos

The Canyon tower building in San Francisco

10 October 2023

Design: MVRDV

Location: San Francisco waterfront, California, USA

The Canyon tower building

Photos © Jason O’Rear, © Mission Rock Partnership

The Canyon, USA

Geology-inspired tower “The Canyon” is completed in San Francisco’s new neighbourhood Mission Rock.

MVRDV’s residential complex The Canyon on San Francisco’s waterfront is complete. The 23-storey mixed-use building, MVRDV’s first completed project on the west coast of the United States, is part of a masterplan that creates the wholly new neighbourhood “Mission Rock” overlooking San Francisco Bay. Incorporating a sizeable volume of housing for middle-income residents, together with offices, shops, and restaurants, the development which evokes California’s dramatic geology will keep Mission Rock vibrant throughout the day and night.

The Canyon tower building

Located opposite the Giants’ Oracle Park, The Canyon is one of four buildings that form the first phase of the new Mission Rock neighbourhood, which is being developed through a partnership of the San Francisco Giants, Tishman Speyer, and the Port of San Francisco. Located on an 11-hectare site, these buildings were designed in a collaborative process in which four internationally renowned design firms – Studio Gang, Henning Larsen, and WORKac in addition to MVRDV – worked simultaneously, creating distinct designs which work seamlessly together.

The Canyon tower building

Positioned in the north-west corner of the neighbourhood, The Canyon is the first building to welcome visitors crossing the Lefty O’Doul Bridge. The building comprises a five-storey plinth, topped by a 73-metre (240-foot) tower in the western corner of the plot, and will soon be fronted by China Basin Park, like all the buildings of the masterplan, the ground level of The Canyon hosts small-scale shops and restaurants that will help to establish a community feeling in the new neighbourhood.

The Canyon tower building

In the case of The Canyon, the ground floor is topped by two floors of offices, in turn capped by 283 apartments. Over a third of these apartments are available at below-market-rates to middle-income residents. The development will have a positive impact on San Francisco housing crisis, with the 102 apartments suitable for a range of households subject to a lottery.

The Canyon tower building

The Canyon is instantly recognisable thanks to its ruggedly textured red-brown façade. The design references Californian rock formations, and features a landscaped public “canyon” that cuts diagonally through the building’s plinth, connecting to the offices and to shared amenities for residents. Providing a lush and lively space for both relaxing and working, the canyon also offers a shortcut from China Basin Park to the heart of the neighbourhood. The walls of the canyon and of the eastern side of the tower are jagged with step-backs and overhangs giving the impression of steep rocky walls. These have the added benefit of creating bay windows and balconies for 40 apartments, taking advantage of the city-skyline views and over San Francisco Bay. The roofs of the plinth are also landscaped with abundant native greenery, creating communal spaces for residents to relax, exercise, or meet friends.

“The Canyon helps create connections in several ways, with the landscaped ravine as its focal point”, says Nathalie de Vries, MVRDV co-founder. “The ravine binds the public realm’s shops and restaurants with access to offices and resident services to keep Mission Rock vibrant, and residents can further meet, relax and entertain on The Canyon’s green communal spaces. That a significant proportion of rentals are available at below-market- rates will also help engender the diverse and inclusive communities that are vital to sustaining and enhancing cities.”

One benefit of the simultaneous design process for the masterplan is that the four buildings share critical energy and water infrastructure. Based in the building designed by WORKac, for example, is a water recycling plant that will process black water from the whole neighbourhood for reuse. For its part, The Canyon hosts the key mechanical elements of an efficient district heating system, hidden away in parts of the ground floor and basement. The proximity to the San Francisco Bay provides the site with the opportunity to utilise bay water for both cooling and heating of Mission Rock via a water exchange system. The system leads to a reduction of CO2 and lower water, sewer, and energy usage.

The Canyon tower building

Further enhancing The Canyon’s sustainability, the building level has been raised by more than five feet to accommodate for projected sea level rise. Lightweight glass fibre reinforced concrete (GFRC) was used for The Canyon’s façade panels which compares favourably to precast concrete. With Caltrain and Muni Metro stations, ferries, regional buses, and connections to BART within walking or biking distance, these shared systems and interventions allow the neighbourhood to significantly reduce its carbon emissions and it will become one of the exemplary projects for the area.

The Canyon, and the wider Mission Rock neighbourhood, are being developed in a partnership between the San Francisco Giants, Tishman Speyer and the Port of San Francisco. MVRDV worked with executive architect Perry Architects, landscape architect GLS Landscape/Architecture, PAE Engineers, structural engineer Magnusson Klemencic Associates, and Swinerton Builders as contractor. For more information about and to check current availability at The Canyon, visit

The Canyon in San Francisco, California, USA – Building Information

Project Name: The Canyon
Location: San Francisco, California, USA
Year: 2023
Client: SF Giants + Tishman Speyer
Size and Programme: 34,900 m2 Mixed use (residential, office, retail) Have sustainability certification: LEED Gold

Architect: MVRDV –
Founding Partner in charge: Nathalie de Vries
Partner: Frans de Witte
Design Team: Fedor Bron, Mick van Gemert, Fouad Addou, Matteo Gramellini, Teodora
Cirjan, Andrea Manente, Claudia Consonni, Aneta Rymsza, Marina Kounavi, Sandra Jasionyte, Ievgenia Koval, Nicolas Garin Odriozola, Paul van Herk, Kamila Korona Copyright: MVRDV Winy Maas, Jacob van Rijs, Nathalie de Vries

Executive Architect: Perry Architects
Landscape architect: GLS Landscape/Architecture Structural engineer: Magnusson Klemencic Associates MEP: PAE Engineers
Contractor: Swinerton Builders

The Canyon tower building

Photography: © Jason O’Rear, © Mission Rock Partnership


The Canyon in San Francisco, California images / information received 101023 from MVRDV Architects, NL

Location:San Francisco, CA, United States of America

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