Hyperloop San Francisco

Introduction and Design Principles

In the time of world wide networking, personal mobility is becoming more and more important. The internet and the resulting habit of immediacy further strengthen this idea to go further than before and in a shorter time frame. Multinational corporations also often require an employee to be flexible in their place of work with travel becoming more and more necessary for them.

Even today employees can take jobs that are further away than ever from their residence and commute by faster and more efficient means. At the same time cities become magnets for international workers and grow even bigger, making commuting more of a hassle. That’s because taking a job there usually requires relocating and congesting the roads.

This might soon be a thing of the past because the Hyperloop enables the merging of metropolises without adding more road traffic between them and furthering personal mobility to an as of yet unheard of degree.

This design of a Hyperloop station is based on Elon Musk’s idea of a Hyperloop transportation system that he published in 2013. The design is a proposal for a further integral development of the Hyperloop to enable a smaller footprint in the cities and to make the whole system even more flexible. This is manifested in the addition of self driving Modules that then go into the Pod, which adds a second layer of engineering to the whole system but makes the experience smoother.

Musk’s first proposal for a connection between Los Angeles and San Francisco has a reduction of travel time down to about 30 minutes in mind. The necessary speeds require a mostly straight and direct route between the cities. For the most part the corridor along highway I-5 can be used since it is almost the ideal route already.

Both cities function as opposite poles within California that are also very similar. Together they represent a varied section through society and culture: media meets technology, universities meet each other and all get connected for a better exchange. These two regions alone contain over 25 million people that are then put into immediate vicinity to each other. The design of the stations has to incorporate these factors. The stations have to have a perfect connection to existing infrastructure like the metro lines, busses and trains, to be most efficient and not overload the cities with more people than they can handle.

San Francisco’s position at the end of a peninsula makes these connections to transregional infrastructure harder by necessitating either a bottleneck (tunnel or bridge) to connect directly to the East Bay, or a much longer land route around the whole bay. This of course influences the building and placement of a Hyperloop Station – especially in terms of later expansion or addition.

The most time-efficient route would be through a tunnel beneath the bay like the Transbay Tube. Such a tunnel would bring a very high cost with it, thereby making the inclusion of more tracks more cost-efficient and future proof. At least 4 or 6 tracks would be a good starting point.

The overall concept is built on this Hyperloop Tube that connects to San Francisco close to Rincon Park and the Ferry Building, self driving people and cargo Modules within an underground tunnel system inside of the city, and the conceptional development of three typologies of stations that incorporate different urban contexts in their design while offering a starting point for later expansion.

A part of San Francisco’s character is its pedestrian accessibility and certain density in the general Downtown area. This makes it different from other cities that rely on cars to navigate. This also creates different poles within Downtown that have varying degrees of infrastructural connections and a different clientele of travelers. While these poles have a different focus they also are not far enough apart to warrant a system change (e.g. take a bus the last mile) to bring the traveler to their destination. The lost time on these last few parts of their journey makes a system change – that has to be made daily by commuters – very annoying and frustrating.

This is why this concept contains three poles that are either important hubs for commuting or are destinations themselves. The three stations each also represent a type of construction project that is very common in the urban context of today’s architecture: building within existing contexts, integrating into a new city block, and totally new construction. This general concept can then be adapted for different cities while keeping the same architectural corporate identity that connects the stations.

The facade and shape are inspired by the Hyperloop tube and also represent the connection to the city by using a downward facing quarter tube section. This shape is generally reflecting the surrounding so that either the city or the interior are projected onto it – depending on the person’s point of view. This reflectiveness varies depending on the context and can also be quite transparent. Inside the Gates function as a mediating element between city and Hyperloop tube. To keep these as small as possible they are only used when the Module is actually in it, waiting is done outside of them. This way arrivals can leave the Module in peace and departing travelers enter after they have left.

The tunnels enable future expansion not only in terms of additional stations, but also more vacuum airlocks. The city streets are not further congested by any additional tunnels. The following stations present the concept in more detail.

Station Matson Building Building in Existing Contexts

The position right by Market Street and the proximity to Embarcadero Station makes the Matson Building the prime location for a Hyperloop station that connects directly to Downtown as well as an important commuter hub. The historic facade can mostly be kept intact to preserve the building’s exterior since the Gates as well as the connecting walkway to Embarcadero Station are located underneath the ground floor. This connection brings visitors into the mezzanine level of Embarcadero Station and thereby guarantees access to both MUNI and BART trains.

The open entrance embraces and guides the travelers by emulating the colonnades of the Federal Reserve Bank and opening the station towards the surface. The quarter pipe section with built in LED stripes further guides the people downstairs while also reflecting either the inside to passersby or the outside city for arrivals before leaving the station.

The Hyperloop station uses the double height facade as well as the double height columns to capture the typological image of old train station halls. The LEDs as well as the mirrored facade on the inside function as a contrast to such a historic image by emphasizing the technological aspects of the Hyperloop.

Station Beale / Howard Integration into City Block

South of Market is being rebuild to accommodate more high-density constructions and also received the newly constructed Transit Center to improve San Francisco’s public transportation infrastructure. Medium density structures give place to taller buildings that sometimes span whole city blocks. This presents an opportunity to integrate a Hyperloop station into a city block while only using a comparatively small ground floor footprint. The recessed ground floor can then still be used for shops or other surface level functions. The area in front of it is used to access and lighten the lower parts that contain the station. Pedestrian bridges span the gap to connect to the shops.

The facade again emphasizes the downward motion of the passengers and also mirrors the city as well as the interior of the station to the respectively other side. This gives arrivals an impression of San Francisco before even leaving the gate. The full mirror effect takes place above the ground floor to allow the shops to have their shopwindows but the glass still functions as a mirror depending on the angle.

A direct connection to the Transit Center in the form of a pedestrian tunnel is present as well to ensure the best possible utilization of existing and future transportation types.

Station Waterfront New Construction and Event Architecture

The location between Ferry Building and Bay Bridge is perfectly suited for a modern Hyperloop station as an image for progress overlooking the bay. Arrivals experience landmarks right away upon entering the city and residents are visually informed about the Hyperloop – even from the Bay Bridge. New technology needs these kinds of symbols to be fully embraced.

The station itself represents a transformation of a quarter tube leaving the water in which the travelers arrive and ascend into the city. A artificial tank in front of the glass facade right outside of the Gates illustrates San Francisco’s connection with water to the new arrivals. The curved shape of the building guides the people three-dimensionally into the surrounding city.

Like with the other stations the interior is visible from the outside so that passersby can view the comings and goings of the Modules through the panoramic window behind another artificial water tank. The landscaping continues and connects directly to Rincon Park while also adding a viewing platform on top of the station to overlook the East Bay.