Events at the
Bay Area Metro Center
375 Beale Street
San Francisco, CA
Metro Talks is a speaker series hosted by the Bay Area’s four regional agencies at the Bay Area Metro Center. The series brings together prominent leaders and experts to discuss issues of regional significance like housing, community development, climate change, the economy, technology and innovation, and transportation. Metro Talks invites Bay Area residents to mingle over refreshments and light appetizers and connect with neighbors, regional agency staff and leadership and other interested parties in the beautiful atrium of the Bay Area Metro Center.
Metro Talks: Three Perspectives on Resilience
Henk Ovink, Rupal Sanghvi and Cathy Simon
Thursday, October 12, 2017
This special edition of the Metro Talks series featured three design experts participating in the Resilient by Design Bay Area Challenge, a collaborative research and design project to help make the Bay Area more resilient to the impacts of climate change including sea level rise and flooding. Each shared their unique professional and personal perspectives on what resilience means and why it matters. Henk Ovink, the Special Envoy for International Water Affairs for the Kingdom of Netherlands, Rupal Sanghvi, Founder of HealthxDesign, and Cathy Simon, Fellow, American Institute of Architects, are leaders in integrating the disciplines of public health, architectural design, ecology, social equity and public sector ingenuity. They shared some stories and insights for how the Bay Area can navigate the challenges and opportunities ahead in local and regional resilience building.
Metro Talks: Ralph McLaughlin
The Yin-Yang of Housing Affordability and Development in the Bay Area
Ralph McLaughlin, chief economist at Trulia, leads the housing economics research team and provides house hunters with key insights about the economy, housing trends and public policy. His educational background includes a B.S. in geography and regional development from the University of Arizona and a Ph.D. in planning, policy and design from the University of California at Irvine (with a specialization in urban economics). He has more than a dozen publications and research papers in the fields of housing economics, land use, housing policy, and industrial geography, and most recently was the director of the Real Estate Development Program at San Jose State University.
Art at the Bay Area Metro Center
Earth, Water, Atmosphere
Linda Klein, Leslie Morgan and
Jack R. Mesa
October 2, 2017 - January 5, 2018
Bay Area Metro Center
First Floor Atrium Lobby
375 Beale Street, San Francisco
Hours: Weekdays 7am-7pm,
Resilient By Design Preliminary Designs
Over the past few months, the Resilient by Design I Bay Area Challenge has been proactively bringing together community members, public officials, and local, national and international experts to learn about the challenges facing our communities related to the effects of climate change and sea-level rise around San Francisco Bay.
The 10 multidisciplinary Design Teams have been touring sea-level rise hot spots around the region and developing innovative ideas to address this threat and other aspects of climate resilience. The project's research phase culminated this week when the Design Teams unveiled their initial ideas, both at an event in San Francisco and virtually on the web. Since the talented and energetic Resilient by Design staff are housed in our building, it made sense to put a selection of the preliminary designs on display in the Metro Center lobby. To see more designs and comment via the online forum, visit neighborland.com/resilientbay.
These initial Design Opportunities lay the groundwork for the Collaborative Design Phase in which the Design Teams will partner with local leaders to come up with real, implementable design solutions that work for our communities and our region.
Now Playing on Our Video Wall
Above the Bay
This footage, shot by the Center for Land Use Interpretation, was featured in the Oakland Museum of California’s 2013 exhibit “Above and Below: Stories From Our Changing Bay.” Beginning and ending at the Golden Gate Bridge, the film takes you counter-clockwise around the entire perimeter of San Francisco Bay, providing a bird’s-eye view of the nine counties represented by the regional agencies housed here at the Bay Area Metro Center.
PRESERVING & REINVENTING
Regional leaders re-envisioned the historic eight-story building at the intersection of Beale and Folsom streets as a contemporary and environmentally friendly facility that reflects the missions of the Bay Area agencies who call it home, and that will become an asset to a neighborhood that is also undergoing transformation. Investing in renovating this existing 1940's structure rather than new development represents a prime example of adaptive reuse — something the regional agencies have been championing for years.
New Entrance, New Address
The plan for transforming the building formerly known as 390 Main Street into the regional agency headquarters called for relocating the front entrance to the opposite side of the building to take advantage of streetscape improvements and create a more inviting and accessible entryway. The new address — 375 Beale Street — pays tribute to Senate Bill 375, landmark 2008 state legislation that charted a path toward sustainability and dramatically reducing greenhouse gas emissions.
Thinking Outside the Box
Two features help to break up the building’s boxy exterior and enliven the work space: a top-floor terrace overlooking the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge that has become a favorite lunch spot for staff, and a three-story cut-out for a Ginkgo tree.
New Ways to Work
Isolating workers in enclosed individual offices is old school; new concepts of work environments call for more open and flexible floor plans that foster communication and collaboration.
To bring natural light into the massive, 64,000-square-foot floor plate — and reduce energy costs — architects carved an eight-story atrium into the center of the building, topping it with a lightweight “pillow” skylight made of transparent plastic sheeting filled with air. At the street level, the atrium is the centerpiece of an expansive lobby destined to become an indoor crossroads for the four regional agencies occupying the building. Above the lobby, the atrium is lined with glass panels that create a contemporary stained-glass effect.
The upper floors of the building house the partner agencies’ staff, who are intermingled rather than grouped by agency. As another way of breaking down barriers, the design emphasizes informal gathering spaces conducive to casual interactions on the partner agencies’ common agendas.
Second Life for Historic Wood
In a nod to the neighborhood’s past, the Bay Area Metro Center makes ample use of wood from 40-foot-long Douglas fir logs that served as pilings for the old Transbay Terminal, which was demolished to make way for a modern new facility. Full of character from 70 years of sitting below the water line, this salvaged wood has been incorporated into the first floor lobby security desk and the board room dais and wall paneling, as well as the coffee bars and lobby paneling on the partner agencies’ office floors.
The Bay Area Metro Center is the new home for some 600 staff members of the four partner regional agencies, but it’s also much more. It is intended as a public forum where issues can be aired and solutions discussed, a neighborhood and regional resource, and a place where the public can connect with the agencies and access their services.
Library: Information for the Asking
The place to research transportation, demographics, planning topics, economic trends and much more is the new MTC-ABAG library, located on the 7th floor of the Bay Area Metro Center and available to visitors by appointment. With over 15,000 books, periodicals, reports — and four daily newspapers — the library is a goldmine of information. The catalog can be accessed remotely through the MTC website.
Branching off the first-floor lobby — itself an inviting public space — are a pair of spacious multipurpose rooms available to the partner agencies for meetings and events. Across the lobby is a formal, auditorium-style board room that is shared by the partner agencies.
Bay Area FasTrak® Lives Here
Customer service, account management and payment processing for the Bay Area FasTrak® electronic toll collection system operate from the second floor of the Bay Area Metro Center. FasTrak® is managed by the Bay Area Toll Authority, an MTC affiliate.
Window on the World of Traffic Operations
At the first-floor Regional Operations Center — or the ROC — operators monitor MTC’s growing network of Express Lanes via a real-time traffic map and live video feeds visible to the public through a large window. During a regional emergency, the ROC will function as a command center where MTC staff can manage and coordinate transportation assets with regional partners.
Tracking Air Quality
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District’s new state-of-the art lab will perform over 25,000 air quality analyses per year on samples collected from monitoring stations, manufacturing facilities, dry cleaners and the like across the nine Bay Area counties to determine compliance with air quality standards and regulations — also performing analyses for other air quality organizations. Information from the region’s air monitoring network is used to develop models and examine long-term air quality trends.
Coffee, Clipper®, Commute Help and More
Ada’s Café (see menu) and The Hub are co-located in a ground floor storefront at 375 Beale, providing the public with one-stop access to products and services offered by the regional agencies located at the Bay Area Metro Center, all in a cozy café that serves gourmet coffee drinks and fresh breakfast and lunch options. Visitors will be able to get a FasTrak® toll tag, load cash value and passes onto a Clipper® transit fare card, apply for an air quality permit, find the best Bay Area bus route or buy a boxed set of San Francisco Bay Trail maps, among many other options. Ada’s Café is a Palo Alto-based nonprofit dedicated to hiring and training people with disabilities.
The HUB @ 375 Beale is the region's newest resource for transportation information.
Visit the HUB for...
- FasTrak® assistance
- Clipper® transit fare cards and value
- Air quality permits
- Bay Trail information and maps
- And other Bay Area transportation information
Open Monday-Friday 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and
Saturdays 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Pedal to the Metro Center With Ford GoBike
Now there's a new way to get to the Bay Area Metro Center: Ford GoBike. A station with 11 cycles has been installed in Rincon Place, the new parklet on the north side of our building. You can ride from the Embarcadero BART station, the Ferry Building or other points in town and drop the bike off at our station. Or, you can pick up a bike from our station to get to your next destination. Ford GoBike, which is co-sponsored by MTC, is a convenient, carbon-free, low-cost way to get around town. Plus, you can use your MTC-issued Clipper® card to unlock bikes. For more information, go to www.fordgobike.com.
Association of Bay Area Governments
The official council of governments for the San Francisco Bay Area, the Association of Bay Area Governments (ABAG) works to strengthen cooperation and collaboration among the region’s nine counties and 101 cities and towns and to provide innovative and cost-effective solutions to their common problems.
Bay Area Air Quality
The Bay Area Air Quality Management District (Air District or BAAQMD) is entrusted with regulating stationary sources of air pollution in the nine counties that surround the San Francisco Bay. The mission of the Air District is to protect and improve public health, air quality and the global climate.
Metropolitan Transportation Commission
The Metropolitan Transportation Commission (MTC) plans, finances and coordinates transportation in the nine-county San Francisco Bay Area, with the goals of improving connectivity, promoting sustainability and equity, and protecting the environment and the health of the region’s infrastructure.
Bay Conservation and Development Commission
The Bay Conservation and Development Commission (BCDC) was created to protect and enhance San Francisco Bay and to encourage responsible use of this regional treasure. BCDC also leads the Bay Area’s ongoing regional effort to address the impacts of rising sea levels on shoreline communities and assets. (BCDC will move to the Bay Area Metro Center in late 2017.)
A Building of Many Uses
While the structure has adapted to a variety of government uses for the military, U.S. Postal Service, U.S. Mint and U.S. Treasury, its mid-20th century style — represented by clean, horizontal lines and lack of ornamentation — has remained largely intact over the last 70 years.
Between 1933 and 1943, two important structures were built in record time to fill vital needs — the San Francisco-Oakland Bay Bridge and its neighbor, the building now known as 375 Beale. Both are notable for their no-nonsense, “workhorse” functionality and lasting durability, and their proximity to each other provided a strong symbiosis of warehouse activities and easy transportation access.
Women Report for Duty
During World War II, members of the U.S. Marine Corps Women’s Reserve reported for duty to the San Francisco military complex that included a supply depot at this building. With a motto of “Free a Marine to Fight,” they performed jobs from typing, posting records and drafting blueprints to driving tractors and installing radios in tanks.
Reviving “Dead” Letters
In the 1960s, the building became a regional U.S. Post Office center, eventually handling over 10 million undeliverable dead letters and parcels per year. Before giving up on delivery, however, qualified postal workers opened unaddressed or misaddressed mail to look for addresses inside.
In a dynamic, urban landscape, few buildings meet the needs of a changing society, and many must make way for new structures. An exception, 375 Beale Street has survived and been adapted from a major military supply depot to a Marine Corps dormitory to a regional U.S. Postal Service facility and now, after a period of near vacancy, has morphed again — into
the home for four major Bay Area regional agencies.
Meeting Wartime Needs
Completed in 1943, this sturdy, capacious warehouse with its vast, open floor plans (shown at left) served the needs of the U.S. military through three wars — World War II and the Korean and Vietnam conflicts — providing a vital supply link for American soldiers in the Pacific.
During the Vietnam War, the facility served as a main hub for mail delivery to U.S. soldiers. Some 115,000 pounds of mail per day were sorted, loaded into huge plastic “igloos” and rushed to San Francisco International Airport for flights across the Pacific.
HQ for “North Pole” Mail
As a regional postal center for many years, the building met a
special need every year for letters addressed to Santa Claus. Many of the hand-scribbled letters were answered by San Francisco volunteers, saying Santa would do his best; some volunteers actually fulfilled children’s wish lists.