San Mateo’s Shoreline Parks

SHORELINE PARKS, a two-mile stretch along the San Francisco Bay is interrupted by utility towers carrying power lines across the parks’ site and the mound of a capped landfill near the water. Yet this once desolate and often windy expanse of waterfront under the jurisdiction of the City of San Mateo was transformed in 2005 with parks that are part of the 450-mile continuous corridor around the San Francisco Bay and the San Pablo Bay to the north called the Bay Trail.

Endres Ware provided architecture and engineering services for the site, including the design of a bridge with a 105-foot span for pedestrians and light vehicles that leads to newly restored wetland areas.

Bridge deck plan

The wood deck of the pedestrian bridge, which is cantilevered from a torsion pipe beam that  spans between concrete piers,  is set back from its support so that it gives the illusion that the bridge is floating above the natural landscape below. The sinuous railing provides areas for people to lean out over the creek without blocking the deck.

Along the trails through the park are a maintenance building, public restrooms, and picnic and shade shelters that Endres Ware also designed for Ryder Park. The structures contribute an open framework that allows visitors to pursue the activities of their choice from strolling, jogging and cycling to picnicking. The uniform palette of materials: Ipe wood, also called ironwood, decking, solid concrete bases, steel pipe, and the curvilinear forms shared by the structures promote a perception of the meandering park as a single entity.

References to nature are most obvious in the splayed forms of the two picnic shelters arcing away from each other that suggest wind-blown leaves. Wood slats recalling leaf veins are bound together by upper and lower steel cables that run through them to form the central vein like that of a real leaf.


Picnic shelters plan

The shade structure, shown here in structural drawings and a photograph continue the palette of materials used in the picnic shelters and their skeletal form.

As shown in the photograph above, the 70-acre park projects a festive feeling appropriate to a waterside recreation area.

4 Responses

  1. Sally Woodbridge says:

    My thanks to Jay Claiborne, Sixdog37, and Daniel Gregory for their comments!

  2. Thank you Sally! That “torsion pipe beam” bridge is a stunner and makes the Millenium Pedestrian Bridge in London look like the work of an amateur. Ware’s biomorphic park ensemble deftly blends structure and symbol — as if each element were a kind of architectural divining rod.

    With the new span over Hoover Dam, not to mention Calatrava’s over the Sacramento River, engineering art would seem to be undergoing a renaissance.

  3. SixDog37 says:

    Actually, @Jay Claiborne I think Endres Ware got the contract for the East Shore State Park improvements that are coming up.

  4. What beautiful improvements. Take notice East Shore State Park and weep.

    Jay Claiborne
    JWC Urban Design

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